For the third year running, the Big Bad Wolf Book Fairs finds its way in the busy streets of Manila. An annual book fair that originated in Malaysia, Big Bad Wolf book fair features a plethora of books from BookXcess stocks. BookXcess is a book store selling excess books from international distributors. BookXcess and the Big Bad Wolf Book Fair were both founded by Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng.
Not missing out on the opportunity to participate again in this annual book fair, I dropped to take a peek. Well, not really a peek because I managed to snag a score of wonderful titles from the various book piles. Basically, it is me being unable to resist the temptation to purchase more books. Oops, my 2020 New Years Resolution is waving at me. Honestly, I went to the fair just to see if they have a copy of two books which are part of my 2020 Books I Look Forward To List. But things are more complicated than that I guess.
The 2020 Big Bad Wolf formally opened its door to the reading public in Valentines Day. The venue for this year’s fair is at the World Trade Center in Pasay City; it was also the home for the book fair in its first two Philippine editions. I wanted to drop by the furing during its first day but, you know, responsibilities. Going there on its second day is not really a bad idea though.
I arrived at the venue late in the afternoon, expecting a huge crowd scavenging the various bookshelves and book piles. Surprisingly, the crowd this year was not as big as it was during its first edition; I was there during the first day of the first edition and the crowd was simply, huge. I surmise that this is not due to the people’s interest waning. Rather, buyers are wary of the latest contagion, i.e. COVID-19, that is sweeping the world over. Even I am very cautious getting stuck in huge crowds.
The event organizers did there own fair share of preparations to assuage everyone’s fears. As a preventive measure, everyone’s temperature is taken before one can enter the venue. Everyone is also required to have their hands be sanitized. Otherwise, the guards can refuse your entry to the venue. The procedure was a quick one though and won’t hurt one much. Everyone’s safety is, after all, the top priority.
As it was during its first two stagings, the entry to the book fair venue is on the right side of the hall. The first section that greets everyone is the fiction section. It is, by miles, the section that is teeming with the most activity. This is not surprising at all because from my two-year participation in the book fair, the fiction section has always been the biggest crowd drawer.
The Fiction section is also divided into various sections – Crime/Thriller, Romance, Science Fiction, Literature, General Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It was disappointing, although unsurprising, to note that the Young Adult Fiction occupied the most space and has the most books. Although I wish the General Fiction and the Literature sections had more books, I was impressed by the variety of titles in both sections.
I guess it is unsurprising that I find myself immersed in the Literature and General Fiction sections. As I scavenged the book piles, I’ve noted a score of familiar authors from classical authors like Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Daniel Defoe Gustave Flaubert, Thomas Hardy, to Nobel Prize in Literature winning authors like Gunther Grass, Orhan Pamuk, and Kenzaburo Oe. This year’s variety, in all honesty, beats out the previous two editions. Even I was pleasantly surprised by the number of African authors in the piles.
So I found myself going over the Literature and General Fiction section. I spent a third of my time there. Before I realized it, I’ve already filled my cart with over 20 books. I just unconsciously piled one book after another. I tried going over the other sections in hopes of finding the two books I set out to find – My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell and Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez – but my efforts were all in vain.
I failed my original mission but I walked away from the book fair with amazing titles and a big smile (and a smaller wallet! LOL). I hate to admit it but in buying these books, I relieved some stress. I do buy books when I get so stressed out at work. It is more than just a pet peeve. Looking at my purchases, I am truly satisfied as I bought books covering a wide array of subjects, and were written by a diverse set of authors. To name a few, some of my 2020 Big Bad Wolf purchases are:
- The Idiot by Elif Batuman, a 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction finalist
- Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe, a Nobel Prize in Literature winner
- Far from the Madding Crown by Thomas Hardy
- A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi
I’ll talk more about my purchases in a separate post.
The book fair has sections dedicated for other interest groups as well. There are sections dedicated for religion, travelling, cooking, photography, and history. The children’s section has an extensive offering as well.
To the uninitiated, the book fair doesn’t charge any entrance fee; it is free of admission. For those who are interested to participate in the book fair, you’ve got until February 24 to visit the venue. The good thing is that the fair runs round-the-clock so if you want to avoid any crowd, you can visit the venue around 12 midnight to around four AM. With over two million books from over 33,000 titles, you’ll never run out of choices.
Big Bad Wolf is also tied up to philanthropic works, more specifically Gawad Kalinga. A portion of the proceeds of this year’s sale will go to the victims of the recent Taal Volcano eruption. Not only are you buying books at a bargain price, you’re also helping our fellow Filipinos as they rise above the unfortunate tragedy.
Here are some of my tips to prospective buyers:
Prepare a list of the books you want to buy.
1. Know what genre the books you want to buy to easily locate them. For instance, Anne Frank’s Diary is in the Biography section and NOT in the Fiction Section or John Green’s books are in the Young Adult Section.
2. There are facilitators but they are not familiar with all books. Don’t be surprised because there are a LOT of books and we can’t expect them to know every single one.
3. Be courteous and patient. At numerous times I wanted to push the carts of other buyers because they blocked the passageways. I don’t know why there are so many insensitive individuals. Please, let us be courteous to others.
4. Return the books where you got them. There are signs all over the place reminding everyone to return the “unwanted” books where they originally got them but heck, they barely heeded the call. I mean, it was a very simple request but buyers are too adamant. I ended up arranging some of the books. Some of the books I wanted were buried in a pile of other books; it was a good thing that I rearranged them.
5. Do not unwrap books covered in plastic cover. There are sample books you can use to check out these wrapped books. Again, there are buyers who simply cannot comprehend simple instructions.
6. Bring a friend. The more, the merrier. It will also cut the time looking for specific books. Moreover, it can help to have one friend queue in advance at the cashier section.
7. Visit on a weekday. If you don’t like the crowd, visit the sale on a weekday or, if you can, on the wee hours of the morning (i.e. 12 midnight to 4 AM) as the fair runs 24-hours.
8. Bring your own eco-bag. Sustainability is one of this year’s fair’s aim. The organizers are no longer providing plastic bags for book purchases. Either you bring your own eco-bag or buy one at the cashier for PHP 20.00.
9. Refrain from bringing your own books.