A rough guide to the Manila International Book Fair


Three days to go until the Manila International Book Fair!  A lot of people have been asking me for tips about the Manila International Book Fair, so I decided to create this (unofficial) guide  based on what I’ve seen over recent years.

I’ve been attending the MIBF for five years running now, covering events, shopping, and just generally enjoying the flurry of bookish activity around me. And every year, the exhibitors offer something new, and there is always a different lineup of special events to look forward to.

My pick: Exhibitors

You can find the complete list of exhibitors and other details on the MIBF website,  but here is a list of my favorite stops (in no particular order). I don’t know what they have in store this year, at least not until the first day of the book fair, but these are the booths I end up getting my haul from, and what I’ve been shopping for over the years (disclaimer: this is in no way endorsed by the MIBF organizers or any of the exhibitors):

1)  A Different Bookstore – Aside from discounted titles, they usually have bargain-bin bundles, e.g. buy 3 and get one free at different price points (P99 up), a good mix of fiction and non-fiction titles, and YA.  Best to check their booth out on the first day, and when you see a book you like, grab it already, as the best titles go fast and you don’t know if it will still be there when you come back for it. One year I got six chick lit books for about P50 each. Another year I got a great deal on mysteries and thrillers.

2) Bookmark- Great selection of Filipiniana coffeetable books, trade books, and children’s books, from around P50 up. They also sell the Lacson-Locsin Noli and Fili at much cheaper prices at the book fair  (I’m planning to get them in hardcover this year, please don’t beat me to them!!!). Also a great place to get Filipiniana bookmarks in bundles, from P20 up.

3) National Book Store– Pretty hard to miss. While the selection changes each year, the bargain books are always a good deal. One year I got a bunch of design books, and one year I got a great chick lit haul.  Last year was their best so far, I think — I got a lot of hardcovers, YA books and manga at their booth. They restock throughout the five days, so just keep going back to their booth.

For the latest titles, check out the individual publishers’ tables/shelves (the NBS booth is usually arranged according to publisher), they usually have a lot of promotional freebies. NBS also usually throws in a little something extra (a pencil case, a notepad or a pocket dictionary) when you buy from them.

4) Anvil Publishing – Another one of my favorites, as I can root around all day in their bargain bins (from P10 up) and come home with a great stash, from cookbooks to history books, poetry and pop culture books. They restock practically everyday so I end up with lots of books from Anvil.

They also offer discounts for their latest releases, and have wooden benches where you can hang out, read a book or two, and rub those sore feet.  The Anvil booth is also great for literary celebrity sightings. I remember poking about in their bargain bins one year and Ambeth Ocampo was right there bargain hunting as well! Their authors also graciously sign autographs when they’re over at the booth.

4) Vibal Publishing – Great selection of children’s books and Filipiniana coffee table books that are high quality but affordable. The Lolo Jose book that I love is going to be available there this year, if I’m not mistaken.

5) Adarna House – Awesome bundles of children’s books, as well as single titles at great discounts are available here, but they run out fast (especially the bundles) so make sure to get all the books you want on the first days of the fair.

6) Precious Pages – Good selection of children’s books, both local and imported. You can get the book I illustrated, Ang Alamat ng Atis (hehe, can’t resist plugging) here. Plus they give a lot of free posters, which is great if you have kids in the house.

7) OMF Lit– Also has children’s book bundles, but again, they run out fast. Get those during the first few days of the fair.

OMF also has great discounts for inspirational books, which aren’t really my thing, but make great gifts for my mom, so I often mosey over to see what they have.

8 ) Scholastic – I just love checking out what new books they have. I’m a big fan of Scholastic books (Harry Potter + 39 Clues + The Hunger Games + Chicken House books) and it’s always great to see their collection of titles. Great promos with freebies too.

9) Tahanan books– I end up buying a lot of Filipiniana trade books and excellent children’s books. They have bargain copies of some children’s book titles, going for around P30. And their booth is always so homey.

10) Book Wagon – A thoughtful selection of children’s books and hard to find sheet music. I go for the children’s books, but I mention the sheet music because they have a great selection you can’t find elsewhere. And their staff is very accommodating.


11) Felta Multimedia– I don’t buy anything from the booth but I enjoy its interactivity. Lots of kids getting into the toys, and they have robotic demonstrations too.

12) Goodwill Bookstore– I go straight to the bargain bin. Slim pickings, but once in a while there are great finds — novels, coffee table books, cookbooks, children’s books — for under P100.  My cousin (who’s an intern) tells me they have a lot of medical books in stock too.

13) Ateneo Press– I always pass by, out of nostalgia. I hope they stock sesquicentennial memorabilia this year, I’d love to get my hands on those.

14) UP Press– Great contemporary lit selection at discounted prices.

15) National Historical Institute– I like browsing through the history books, although I haven’t bought anything from them so far. Maybe this year.

16) Instituto Cervantes – I love checking out the quaint Spanish children’s books, they have great illustrations even if I can’t understand them. And IC gives out a lot of bookmarks!

17) New Day– Filipiniana trade books at low low prices. I also love rooting around in their bargain bin.

18) WS Pacific – Get your Christmas shopping done here, they have a varied selection of children’s books, cook books, and multimedia, at very low prices.

19) A-Z Direct– I don’t go here but my boss renews her magazine subscriptions with them every year at the book fair and gets a lot of promo freebies.

20) PSICom– I haven’t bought anything here as well, but their booth is always full of kids buying the latest compilations of jokes, or horror stories, etc. Very budget friendly as books are about P50-P100. A lot of author/artist signings here as well.

21) Visprint– I want to drop by their booth this year, as they seem to have very edgy titles and a lot of graphic novels.

That’s it for my pick of exhibitors, but every year has always surprised me. Will do recon on the first day and blog about it so I can give better pointers specific to this year’s book fair.


I’ve posted the special events schedule here, but aside from that, there will be a Tomas Pinpin exhibit (not sure where exactly it’s located, though) at the MIBF.


Tomas Pinpin is the Prince of Filipino printers, who was an important instrument in the beginnings of the Philippine book industry.

In preparation for the book’s 400th anniversary in 2010, the MIBF will showcase a replica of Tomas Pinpin’s book “Librong Pinag-aaralan Nang Manga Tagalog Nang Uicang Castilla” and the first printing press in an educational exhibit that will allow Filipinos to have greater appreciation for Pinpin’s contribution to the Philippine book industry.

That should be interesting.

Aiee! Of the special events, I’m really looking forward to watching (darn that I’m too old to join!) The Hunger Games Live Action Role Play (LARP) on Sunday (Sept. 20) at 1 pm. I’d have loved to play Katniss (wahaha!). Or Rue. Haha. Who wants to watch with me?!?


Other MIBF tips:

1) Wear comfy shoes. Make sure you wear shoes you can walk in, as it is no joke to walk thousands of square meters in high heels (I’ve tried, believe me).

2) Bring recyclable bags, or a wheelie bag if you’re planning a big haul. If you have multiple recyclable bags with you, there’s always the package counter. But if you don’t want to keep bailing to the package counter, a wheelie bag will be your best friend.

3) Weigh your options. Some stocks run out on the first day, while some last all five days, so deliberate your purchases. Will you want to kick yourself after passing up a good deal you saw on the first day? Or will you regret splurging in one booth when you find something else you like later on in the day? Tough, I know, haha, I have the same dilemma every year!

4) Get the best deals. Inquire about the exhibitor’s promos. You never know, they might have something that will catch your interest. Want something extra? Try your hand at bargaining, as some exhibitors can give you a lower price if you ask nicely, or give you a freebie.

5) Celebrity-spotting? Inquire at the exhibitors’ booth if any of their authors or illustrators are scheduled to make an appearance, and you might be able to get a signed copy, or a photo taken with them.

6) Got kids? Keep them entertained with interactive exhibits, storytelling sessions, mascot parades, and other kid-friendly events at the book fair. Alternate between the exhibitors you like and the exhibitors they like to keep them from getting bored.

7) Come back on the last day. Some prices go down on the last day, as some exhibitors prefer unload their stuff rather than pack it all up again, so keep an eye out on last-day bargains.

8 ) All shopped out? Who says you have to buy books to enjoy the book fair? Enjoy the various special events scheduled throughout the duration of the fair, chat up some fellow bibliophiles, or grab a seat somewhere and enjoy a book!

That’s all for now folks! Drop by again on Wednesday night, when I’ll blog about the sights at the 30th Manila International Book Fair.

on Tomas Pinpin, the Prince of Filipino printers, who was an important instrument in the beginnings of the Philippine book industry.

In preparation for the book’s 400th anniversary in 2010, the MIBF will showcase a replica of Tomas Pinpin’s book “Librong Pinag-aaralan Nang Manga Tagalog Nang Uicang Castilla” and the first printing press  in an educational exhibit that will allow Filipinos to have greater appreciation for Pinpin’s contribution to the Philippine book industry.

The first Filipino author in Tagalog and Spanish, Tomas Pinpin was also the first native Filipino printer by typography. He was the first Filipino poet in Tagalog and Spanish and the first Filipino to write a grammar book called “Librong Pag-aaralan Nang Manga Tagalog Nang Uicang Castilla” for Tagalog natives to learn Spanish.

Born in Abucay, Bataan about the year 1590,  Pinpin received his education from the Spanish Dominican missionaries. But it was from Fr. Francisco Blancas de San Jose that he received his training in printing by typography.

In 1610, Fr. San Jose wrote the book “Artes Y Reglas de Las Lengua Tagala” which Pinpin printed.

The last book printed carrying Pinpin’s name was dated 1639,  narrating the martyrdom of Father Marcelo Francisco de Matrilli in Nagasaki in 1637. Since 1640, Tomas Pinpin has entered into perpetual silence as a printer but his heroism and diligence is ours to remember and emulate. His story of fidelity to the Church and loyalty to his countrymen ought to be modeled through the lives we live.

28 thoughts on “A rough guide to the Manila International Book Fair”

  1. I’ll go there on the 19th. Can’t go on a weekday because of work. ^_^ I went there last year and bought a lot. But being surrounded by so many books what made me happy. Hehe

  2. From Carlos Malvar, YA novelist for Visprint: (from the FFP threads)

    I’ll be hanging out at our booth signing books and body parts (if need be) the whole day of the 16th, and it will be really, really cool if I can get to meet some of you here. :) Also, we’ll be launching two fantastic new titles on the 17th.

    BTW, we’ll be having a BOOKSWAPPING BOX in our booth. Feel free to leave us with books that you enjoyed and would like to share with other people, and in return, HELP YOURSELVES TO ALL THE FREE BOOKS IN THE BOX (coz they’ll be pretty lonely without new owners to take them home). Brilliant system, eh? Take as many from the litter, as long as you don’t keep the box empty.

    You might aslo be interested to check out our amazing promo, offered exclusively at the bookfair! http://visprintpub.blogspot.com/2009/09/advanced-order-promo.html

  3. Thank you so much for this guide! At least now I know where to go and what to expect from the event. I’m glad to hear there’ll be cheap books seeing that I’m short on funds right now. Haha!

    “You can get the book I illustrated, Ang Alamat ng Atis”

    Wow! I didn’t know you were also an illustrator. I swear, I think you have the coolest job in the world! :D

  4. Wow, thanks for this post! It’ll be my first time seeing book fair and I’m rather excited about it :)

    Is Visprint by any chance connected to VizMedia? Can we expect titles from popular publishing houses like Vintage, Penguin, and Macmillan? :)

  5. Hey, Blooey, thanks for linking to the LARP. :) You know what, you’re not really too old to join, since it’s for people 13 years old and above! As long as you look young enough to pass for Katniss (and you do!) you’re welcome to join the LARP. Join na! We still need teams. :)

    -Meann (Co-Editor, NewWorlds.ph)

    p.s. Not sure if you remember me, I’m Marlowe’s friend from high school. :)

  6. @Patrick – I just illustrate on the side, when I (ulp) have the time (not a lot). mainly i work as a writer for a private firm

  7. @Mark- Visprint is a local company. Vizmedia does manga right? So I don’t think they’re connected.

    National Book Store houses the popular publishers :)

  8. Woohoo! Exciting stuff. I hope to go this year – missed out on the last 2 years’ worth of fairs because of mommy duties. I usually do my Christmas shopping in the months of August and September, during the bookstore sales and the book fair!

  9. Yay! Its MIBF TODAY! Great guide, Bloo :D This question might be more personal but how much exactly do you spend in a single day at the MIBF, eh blooey? Hehe just so I know how much cash will be rolling away from my measly savings.

  10. @Kath- today I spent around P1k. And I didn’t exactly shop yet, I was running around touring writers and photographers…

    @BMw boy – 10am-8pm until Sunday

  11. hi i actually need to find bookwagon guys. as they have shut down all their retail outlets wld you know how to find them? pldt listings was no help


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