I always look forward to this annual event, ever since I was in third grade, when I first went to the MIBF on a field trip with the school Reading Club.
Even back then I was already a voracious reader, and the MIBF was such a magical place — I had never seen so many books all in one place!
My friends and I happily spent the day poring over all sorts of books, going from booth to booth, strategizing on how we could best spend a couple of weeks’ worth of pocket money. And after we had settled on our books, we made the rounds again, this time to collect freebies from the various booths, chase down the mascots, listen to a story or two, watch some cartoons, and of course, take note of books we planned on begging our parents for as soon as we got home.
More than a decade later, the MIBF still works its magic, and I enjoy it every bit as much as my eight year old self. The smell of new books, the specialized events that launch new books as well as new ways to read, meeting up with fellow book lovers and comparing our purchases, the prospect of rubbing elbows with famous authors and illustrators, and the crunch and crackle of bags containing a fresh new stack of books for my ever-growing library, makes the MIBF the ultimate destination for me — and thousands of other bibliophiles in the country — each year.
30 years of book love
For three decades now, book lovers from all over the country have been marking this event in their calendars, with the headcount reaching a record number of 70,000 visitors last year, to witness what the local book industry has spent the whole year preparing for.
Regular MIBF goers, like me, hold out on book purchases, earmarking book-shopping money for months in advance in anticipation of the biggest book event in the country, and it’s always been worth it. The MIBF has, year after year, proven to be the best place to buy books – from that newly-released mystery thriller taking over the bestseller lists; that anthology of essays written by Filipino authors; that home-improvement book that will come in handy for home renovations; that elusive academic book that will guarantee an aced exam; or even that book that will spark a child’s lifelong love for reading.
Bibliophiles of all persuasions lose themselves in the sprawling exhibit area, browsing for hours in booths of over a hundred exhibitors, checking out the latest titles and the best deals among local and foreign publishers, wholesalers, retailers, and publishers’ representatives and taking home a fresh stash of books to tide them over until the next day of the book fair — or until the next MIBF rolls around.
Teachers and school administrators flock to the book fair to scope out new acquisitions for school libraries, taking advantage of the opportunity to compare offerings from various exhibitors side by side, and get the best prices for bulk purchases.
The MIBF also offers a wealth of books and reading materials for every member of the family: textbooks, educational supplements, general references, religious and inspirational titles, self-help books, management books, Filipiniana, coffee table books, popular novels, children’s books, art books, graphic novels, rare and hard-to-find titles, magazines, audio and e-books, multimedia, teaching supplies and services, publishers’ technology, and travel materials.
Showcasing a huge number of books and learning materials are A-Z Direct Marketing, A Different Bookstore/ Asian Books, Abe Wood Toys, Academic Book Sales, Adarna House, Adbox Book Distributors, Alexan Commercial, Anvil Publishing, Arc N Ciel / Britannica, Asean Book Publishers Association, Asia/Pacific Circulation Exponents, Asiatype Distribution, Ateneo de Manila University Press, Bayard Assumption Media Foundation, Belview Co., Inc., Book Trends enterprises, Brunei Darussalam Language and Literature Bureau of the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, Buddha’s Light International Association Philippines, C & E Publishing, Cambridge University Press, Catholic Book Center, CD Books International, Cengage Learning Asia, Central Book Supply, Christian Literature Crusade, Church Strengthening Ministry, Claretian Communications Foundation, Cyclophil Educational Promotion, Diwa Learning Systems, EDCA Publishing & Distributing, Edcrisch International, Eduaide Asia, Emerald Headway Distributors, Eternal Publication, Evangelical Outreach Inc.,F & J de Jesus, Fastbooks Educational Supply, Felta Multi-Media, Forefront Book Co., and Fujian Publishing Industry Trading.
Also present at the fair are Global Learning Media / Verve Multimedia, Goethe-Institut Manila, Golden Books Services, Goodwill Bookstore, Gunnar Lie & Associates Ltd., High Access Line Philippines, IBC IBC Infotech, Ibon Foundation, Ilaw ng Tahanan Publishing, Image Builders Services and Publishing Foundation, Indonesian Book Publishers Association, Info-Ed Marketing, Instituto Cervantes-Manila, Jaypee Brothers Medical Publishers, Jesuit Communications, Jing Si Books and Café, John Wiley & Sons (Asia), Lauterbach, Lighthouse Educational Corp., Lighthouse Inspirational Books & Gifts, Linar Educational Materials, Malaysian Book Publishers Association, McGraw-Hill Education, Media Zillion Services, Megatexts Philippines, Merriam & Webster Bookstore, Mind Mover Publishing House, Ministry of Information and Culture Department of Publishing (Laos), National Book Council of Malaysia Ministry of Education, National Bookstore, National Historical Institute, Network Magazine Subscription Services, Inc., New Century Books & Gen. Merchandise, New Day Publishers, OMF Literature, Pahina, Inc. / Book Wagon, Paulines Publishing House, Pearson Education, Philippine Book Development Federation (Philbook), Philippine Bible Society, Philippine Christian Literature, Philippine Educational Publishers’ Association (PEPA), Philmont Academic Solutions, Phoenix Educational Systems, Precious Pages Corporation and PSIcom Publishing.
Rounding up the list of exhibitors are Rarebook Enterprises, Rex Group of Companies, Saint Mary’s Publishing, Shepherd House Publishers, Shepherd’s Voice Publications, SIBS Publishing House, Sinag-Tala Publishers, Singapore Book Publishers Association, St. Pauls, St. Augustine Publications, Summit Publishing Co., The Bookmark, The Century Gifts Corporation, The Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand, Tradewinds Books, UST Publishing House, University of the Philippines Press, Vibal Publishing, Vietnam Publishers Association, Visprint, Wiseman’s Books Trading, Word & Life Publications, and WS Pacific Publications.
Aside from the amazing showcase of books, the book fair also presents a wide variety of special events that take place throughout all five days of the fair.
Fans can rub elbows with famous and up-and-coming authors and illustrators, and get their photos taken and their books autographed.
Those looking to expand their knowledge can attend talks and seminars on writing, literature, the book industry, and a host of other topics such as photojournalism, online writing, the care and maintenance of books, and many more.
Kids and kids at heart can also enjoy story telling sessions, art workshops, puppet shows, reading-related contests, robotic demonstrations, and picture-taking sessions with exhibitors’ mascots or cosplayers of their favorite book characters.
This year, the MIBF offers a unique highlight that no book lover can resist: a peek into the beginnings of the Philippine book industry with educational exhibit featuring Tomas Pinpin, courtesy of the diocese of Balanga, Bataan, dubbed as “the Prince of Filipino printers.”
Showcased in the exhibit are replicas of Pinpin’s book “Librong Pag-aaralan Nang Manga Tagalog Nang Uicang Castilla” (the first book authored and printed by a Filipino) and the first printing press. The exhibit is mounted in preparation for the book’s 400th anniversary in 2010.
Also co-located at the MIBF this year is Edu.Shop, a trade fair for school materials, supplies, equipment, and facilities.
Truly, the MIBF offers a book experience like no other, and as the MIBF marks its pearl anniversary in promoting books and reading to the Filipino public, I know that I’ll definitely be back there this year.
The 30th Manila International Book Fair is slated on Sept.16-20 at the SMX Convention Center, Seashell Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.
MIBF is organized by Primetrade Asia, Inc. in partnership with Asian Catholic Communicators, Inc., Book Development Association of the Philippines, Philippine Booksellers Association, Inc., and Publishers Representatives Organization of the Philippines. For details, call 890-0661 or 896-0682, or e-mail email@example.com.
*This article was first published in Manila Bulletin, Students and Campuses section.
*Photos taken from the 29th Manila International Book Fair