The 38th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) was more than a five-day expo at the SMX Convention Center last Sept. 13 to 17; it was both a homecoming and a welcome party.
It was a homecoming for authors, publishers, and bookworms who came together for book bargains and exclusive signings catering to the special needs and wants of every bibliophile; and it was a welcome party for people who are just starting to realize the wonders of the literature.
All for the love of books, the swarm of people during the MIBF would be the least of your concerns as multitudes of stories that ranged from diverse genres were on display, patiently waiting to get picked up by a reader.
If Google was an actual place, the MIBF was a perfect visual representation, as books were divided into stalls for people to navigate through.
Local publishers such as some of our country’s top universities, such as the Ateneo University Press, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, and University of the Philippines Press, were also there to offer educational textbooks, classics, and poetry collections, among others.
With over 100 booksellers covering the stands of the convention center, dedicating one whole day for it wouldn’t be enough. As if the organizers saw it coming, free passes were generously distributed nationwide via local bookstores, making the event easily accessible for everyone. Additionally, the welfare of each literary enthusiast was taken care of through goodies like tote bags and kits, as they were available throughout the fair for anyone who needed extra hands in carrying their own stack of books.
All eyes were definitely on Fully Booked and National Bookstore. The country’s two major bookstores went head to head in giving the best deals possible for all kinds of books. New releases from local and international authors were up for grabs, as each book was marked down, making it impossible to come out with just one purchase.
Every genre had their own buzz. In Fully Booked to name a few, their mystery/thriller category was overpowered with Stephen King’s massive novel, “It.”. The latest book-to-movie adaptation became an easy favorite as all copies down to the very last, were sold in a span of four days.
Another would come from the young adult genre, copies of Sarah J. Maas’ “Tower of Dawn,” which was the sixth installment in her popular fantasy series, were being handed out personally by staffers as it became a huge demand throughout the fair.
On the other hand, National Bookstore invited influential authors to give the opportunity for readers to personally meet their favorites through book signings. The main attraction was saved for last when New York Times’ Bestselling authors, Jenny Han, the writer behind “To All The Boys I l Loved Before” trilogy and Siobhan Vivian of the “Burn for Burn” series were warmly greeted by hundreds of dedicated fans who lined up for hours to get their copies personally signed.
Anyone who visits the MIBF may come out exhausted, cranky and drained, but then again, it’s not everyday where you get to go home with 10 or more hauls of books. Although it may seem absurd for non-bookish people, only a true reader can understand the inner battle one goes through to get their hands on those discounted books.
After all, there’s no such thing as having too many books.
Photos by Inah Maravilla