After its postponement due to the various movement control orders, the 39th Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair (KLIBF) will be held online from 25 June to 8 July
According to their website, KLIBF will be hosting over 140 booksellers on Shopee for the annual book fest starting next Thursday.
The announcement came after the initial cancellation of the fair that was originally supposed to take place from 27 March to 5 April at Putra World Trade Centre, with over 750 exhibition booths planned.
Vendors are expected to offer more than 30,000 book titles alongside thousands of book and game vouchers to be won
There will also be literary discussions posted on KLIBF's social media during the two weeks.
It will be the first time in 38 years that KLIBF will be virtual
The fair was first officially held in 1982 after a series of successful attempts in the decade prior.
Although the book fair kicked off that year, it was not until 1991 that KLIBF opened up participation to foreign publishers.
The organisers of KLIBF hope their online initiative will both revitalise the book industry and promote a reading culture in Malaysia
Many sectors of the economy were negatively impacted by COVID-19. The book industry was no exception, recounts National Book Council of Malaysia director Mohd Khir Ngadiran in an interview with Astro Awani.
Regarding the decision to partner with Shopee, Khir Ngadiran told Astro Awani that it was a strategic move.
He explained, "The organisers believe that companies are better suited to cope with the crisis as they are able to adapt to the new business world and stay relevant. Therefore, we strategically partnered with Shopee, Malaysia's largest e-commerce platform."
The Shopee app has over 20 million downloads to date.
Digitalising KLIBF will also enable Kuala Lumpur to fulfil its role as World Book Capital 2020
In 2018, Kuala Lumpur was named 'World Book Capital 2020' by the The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) director-general Audrey Azoulay. Cities who are given this title are expected to organise activities and campaigns that celebrate books and reading throughout the year.
According to UNESCO, "[Kuala Lumpur] was selected because of its strong focus on inclusive education, its development of a knowledge-based society, and accessible reading for all parts of the city's population."
Under the slogan 'KL Baca - caring through reading', one of the city's main goals is to ensure inclusivity and digital accessibility to books.
By transitioning online, the organisers of KLIBF expect to reach more than its yearly average of two million visitors.
The shift is also in line with the National Book Council of Malaysia's ongoing campaign #DudukRumahBacaBuku, which encourages Malaysians to read at home.
The Malaysian book industry was hit hard during the Movement Control Order (MCO), forcing beloved bookstores like MPH to close down:
Many book sellers are making the shift to online stores, including this one where you can buy second-hand books from as low as RM3: