by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by ISMAIL CHE RUS
The graphic novel genre is gaining better traction these days and has attracted the younger set to read again, with visually appealing works that seem to enhance their reading experience.
MPH Bookstores Sdn Bhd COO Donald Kee (picture) said most of the readers are also gravitating towards “intellectual graphic novels”.
“They are looking for things that are intellectually challenging. They don’t just read things for leisure, but books that make sense and are relatable,” he said at the launch of the World Book Day in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Kee said previously graphic novels that were purely fictional and entertaining were published more due to high demand.
He said these days, however, relatable pieces are now more sought after.
“We also noticed that books with short stories are now very important, as they offer more opportunities to local authors because readers are getting tired of international settings.
“They want local content that is relatable, regardless of language,” he said.
The uptrend in graphic novels and comics is also the impetus for DX Comic — a label introduced by MPH Bookstores and its publishing partner White Coat Enterprise Sdn Bhd.
Meanwhile, Kee said MPH Bookstores is facing a challenge in expanding further from its current 32 outlets, as a result of the popularity of online shopping, as well as the increasing numbers of shopping spots.
“With many malls mush-rooming now, customers are more spread out and choosing an outlet is a difficult decision to make,” he said.
He said MPH Bookstores could choose an outlet at a shop lot, but Malaysian weather has kept locals at shopping malls.
“We are also unlike a retail shop, where you can just leave the store to anybody who is not passionate about books. It is a must that we hire somebody who can gauge the customers’ interests, as well as giving them recommendations,” he added.
The Malaysian Reserve had earlier reported that locals are reading again thanks to increasing interest in Malay love novels, which made up around 20% to 30% of the bookstore’s total turnover.
However, the bookstore also noticed that the market has been shifting to action, fictional, crime, suspense and thrillers.
MPH Bookstores is a subsidiary of MPH Group Malaysia Sdn Bhd. MPH Group also owns MPH Distributors (Malaysia and Singapore), MPH Group Printing and MPH Group Publishing.