"Used" English Books?

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Oct 31, 2016 02:06
Books written in English are not very popular in China, not only because many people’s English is not good enough to read them, but also because English books are expensive. The Chinese versions of these books are cheaper, so some of them sell very well.

There is a section on Amazon China that exclusively sells imported English books. I sometimes visit it to check if there are any new recommended best-sellers, and I always see furious customers leaving complaints in the comment sections. They usually write something like: “Is Amazon selling pirated books? The book I’ve received is so terrible. It looks like a used or pirated book!” With that, they tend to rate the order poorly, giving it 1 out of 5.

Whenever I see that, I can’t help but laugh. I know why they are so angry: the pages of imported English books are mostly brownish, and the paper is usually rough. On the contrary, the paper of the Chinese versions is white and smooth. The customers bought English books at twice or three times the price of the Chinese versions, but ended up receiving books that seemed as if they had been purchased from second-hand book stands. Naturally, this makes them pretty upset. I’ve gotten used to those brownish books, because I used to borrow some of them from libraries. Couldn’t it be that they had also purchased recycled books? Not necessarily.

They say every stuck-up person who wants to pass as an an intellectual has shelves full of unread books. In Chinese, there is also a saying, “You won’t read books unless they are borrowed.” So, going to libraries and borrowing some to read is a smart choice. Since people here don’t often read English books, I don't need to worry about competing with others for the latest English best-sellers whenever I borrow them at the library. Few of the spines on those books have ever been cracked. Haha.