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May 6, 2015

A Different Kind of Book Signing

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia Borneo – It was a success of sorts. I think. Maybe. Everybody said it was. The book signing.

The first thing we did was purchase the bunting. Here, bunting means posters on canvas with printing. We had six of them printed. One for each store (3) across the river in the Kampung and two for the signing. I knew where to go and the price, so that was an easy part.

Next, we had to go to each of the three newspapers. I planned to run the ad in English, Malay and Chinese in three separate publications. The Malay and English papers were published by the same person, so that meant just one office.

Ironically, it was the English paper that gave us the most trouble. A young, thin, svelte Chinese girl sat behind the desk and she spoke, well, she didn't speak just seemed to go through the motions. We got a price. I think she expected us to drop off the ad copy and pay her.

We left, me very frustrated. We went to the Chinese newspaper which I expected more of the same. To my surprise, we met a salesman who spoke broken English, but he tried, he really did. We, not speaking a word of the language, managed to hammer out a four line ad. He said he would receive help from his friends to compose the ad. We thanked him, paid and left.

The next day, we went back to the Malay and English newspaper, but I refused to deal with the lady I had worked with before. She sort of looked off into space as we corralled another English speaking worker. There were only two of them.

We had the ad written in Malay, courtesy of my wife and English newspaper. The girl spoke fluent English, but not Malay. She said she would send us the ad for our approval. All three ads came in and we understood the first two but not the one written in Chinese characters. It could have said "Two idiots came in and bought an ad and we sold it to the morons." But we approved it anyway.

The big day came and we went to the newest shopping mall. I say the "newest" because they are building shopping malls all over Kuching. Many of them only about 40% full. There are just not enough businesses in the town to support these huge megaliths.

The people at the Mall had set up a large table and we produced the bunting. There were five of us, me being the only white guy. Next to us was a huge loud box that produced music.

To my surprise, one of the artists grabbed several magazines and worked the crowd. I was surprised because he was the shyest of all the artists. Another girl worked the crowd also. I sat there and looked stupid.

For three hours we sold 80 books. However, only two of our friends showed up and none from the clubs I belonged to. Maybe they just didn't like me. Other people whom I was assured would come, didn't. If it wasn't for the efforts of the artists, we would not have sold many.

I guess it was a successful, but we now have 4,200 more to go.


...Life is good. . . . .


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