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​​Vietnamese book firm sells ‘books by the kilo’ this Christmas

Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 12:36 GMT+7

Alpha Books is putting 25 metric tons of books on sale for $3.9 a kg to celebrate Christmas

A Vietnamese book company will celebrate Christmas with a special event whereby titles will be sold by weight, but not all booklovers are happy with the idea.

During the ‘Year-end Book Hot Pot’ event, running from December 15 to 17 in Hanoi, Alpha Books will sell 25 metric tons of books not by the price on their back covers, but by weight, the book company said on Monday.

The books, of all genres from economics and business administration to self-help and sciences, will be available at a fixed rate of VND88,000 (US$3.9) per kilogram.

The event will also give “1,000 books collectively worth VND1 billion [$44,053]” to lucky visitors, and offer 2,000 titles at a 50 percent discount.

The idea of selling books by weight and associating them with a ‘hot pot,’ a soup made with various ingredients, has sparked mixed responses from local bookworms.

Making books cheap?

Some are looking forward to attending the event as it is a chance for them to buy books cheaply, while others have raised their eyebrows at it, with ‘selling books by weight’ considered a devaluation of books by some people, especially as books are still deemed a source of knowledge.

“Doesn’t it sound like selling old, unused books as scrap paper?” one wrote on Facebook user, while others criticized describing books as a ‘hot pot’, even though books are considered ‘food for thought.’

Other critics say the event, which is intended to empty the company’s stock by year-end, cheapens books, exacerbating the sad reality that on average Vietnamese read only one book a year.

However, many still support the idea, saying books are after all a commodity, and should be treated as any other goods.

“The value of a book is decided by one who owns it,” a reader named Nguyen Thanh Tuan Kiet, wrote to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

“Books are born to be read, so what’s important is whether people will buy them or not, not how they are sold.”

Another reader, Vu Linh, said there is nothing offensive for a book company to sell its products by the kilo.

“At a time when few Vietnamese read books, the company is doing nothing wrong by trying to find a larger audience for books,” Linh said.

Linh Pham, a Ho Chi Minh City resident, holds a moderate view on the issue.

“For bookworms, the idea is unacceptable as it makes books cheap and valueless, but they should also look at the issue from the perspective of a business,” he said.

“For a book company, the ultimate goal is to sell their stuff and empty stock, so this is just a standard business tactic.”



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