If you've been asked by Kinokuniya to provide them with your house address, they'll be nice enough to add their newsletter to the junk-mail, promotion leaflets and numerous bills you get in your mailbox every month. The newsletter, called "Gems of the Month", showcases the book offers they have in the current month and interestingly, what books their staff recommend to read.
Last month however, they started asking their readers to submit book recommendations instead. (I think they ran out of staff to ask for recommendations.) Readers who submitted their recommendations, and were accepted to be published in the May newsletter, got to choose a book from the May Gems of the Month selection. I don't mind a free book (who wouldn't?), so I emailed in a short review of Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. About a week later, someone from Kinokuniya called me up and said my recommendation was going to be published in the May newsletter. Hooray! (I regret to share with you that I misspelled Coelho's name, and Kinokuniya didn't even bother to edit the error.)
When the May newsletter came, Hari Kunzru was on the cover; I thought I'd get one of his books then (either The Impressionist or the Transmission). I heard they were good, and for the longest time I couldn't decide which to get. Finally I decided on getting The Impressionist, but when I went to Kinokuniya to claim my free book, they said I couldn't claim that, because it wasn't one of the Gems of the Month. No probs. So I chose Naguib Mahfouz's three-novels-in-one book, Respected Sir | Wedding Song | The Search. It would have been great if the story ended there. I mean, I got my free book right? Ho ho!
The reason Hari Kunzru was featured in the May newsletter was because he was coming to Kinokuniya for a meet-the-readers session. First 15 people to sign up would get a free Hari Kunzru book. After getting my Naguib Mahfouz book (worth RM64.32, yikes!), I signed up for the Hari Kunzru meet. My girlfriend, who was with me at the time, also decided to sign up.
When the girl at the counter gave us our forms, she said, "You're the first two to sign up."
"Cool. Does that mean we get a free book each?" I ask.
"That's right, congratulations!"
Three free books in one month! And I get both Hari Kunzru books! Not bad, huh?
By the way, Hari Kunzru's coming to Kinokuniya this Wednesday, 10th May at 7.30pm. Or you could come to Borders on Thursday, 11 May at 8pm. Sharon Bakar has more details in an older blog post.