I missed last year’s Manila International Book Fair and it took me a year to get over it, especially after learning of the great deals that fellow bookworms were able to get at the event. As soon as I heard of its return at the SMX for September 11-15, I cleared my schedule to make sure that I became part of the action this time around.
I went to the book fair alone because everyone that I knew were either a) busy or b) already went to the book fair during the weekday. But as soon as I entered, it didn’t feel like I was alone. Rather, it felt like a homecoming of sorts, to be among people who shared the same excitement about being enclosed in a space lined wall to wall with books.
I must admit though, that I was bit overwhelmed — at first.
My initial dillema when I initially went in was that I didn’t know how I was going to navigate the maze of book stalls of distributors, retailers and other specialized publishers. When my friends told me about last year’s book fair, I immediately assumed that the promo items would be free flowing and books that I wanted were going to be immediately accessible whichever way I went. In actuality however, it would take a while to get the complete lay of the land. It took me about 20 minutes to check out where certain types of books were before I finally buckled down to seriously hunt down marked down titles that I wanted. When I started to get the hang of it, it was pure heaven.
The book fair was pretty organized in terms of layout. The religious book stalls were organized in one area along with the inspirational and self help books of literature. There was even one stall that featured books from local authors, all brand new and all for the price of P100. I bought five books from said stall. I also checked out the National Bookstore stall where most of the stuff were 20 percent off. The Fully Booked stall was bigger but proved to be more difficult to navigate than the former. It seemed like two branches of the book retailers were inside the expo. The collection was that extensive. There were also travel books on sale that originally sold for over P900 but were on sale for less than P300. I lucked out and got a Lonely Planet guide to Beijing for P75. There were also bestsellers that sold for P99 each. I quickly nabbed a couple of them.
What really struck me was actually the Learning is Fun booth where Children’s Book titles and activity books were being sold for a fraction of their original price. I got gifts for my nieces and godchildren for only over P100. The items were originally priced at over P300 in local bookstores so it was a total steal.
There were even authors scheduled to sign books purchased during the event, and there were prizes raffled off in most of the booths.
All in all, I thought that the best thing about the book fair was the general air of excitement among the attendees. The opportunity to find books on sale makes these literary materials accessible to bookworms, parents and children alike. This not only advances the advocacy to continue reading, but also gives book lovers an opportunity to add to their collections and spend hours curled up with words from their favorite writers. At the end of the day, I left the expo with my pockets a little lighter, my mood brighter, looking forward to the next book extravaganza. By then, I think I will be more prepared and more experienced in getting the best out of the book expo, hopefully this time accompanied by a friend with similar tastes.