The Rough Guide to the 31st Manila International Book Fair

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, and before I knew it, voila — it’s now the eve of the opening of the much-awaited Manila International Book Fair, the biggest book event in the country!

Now I know a lot of you have been waiting for the rough guide to this year’s book fair like the one I posted last year. A bit of the background — the nature of my work requires me to attend the Manila International Book Fair year after year (contrary to popular belief I  don’t actually get to shop until the last few days!), and this is the sixth year running now. While I generally make my rounds, I do have some top picks for the must-see booths.

The grounds can get pretty daunting if you’re a first-timer, or if you don’t know what stuff to look out for, and that’s the primary reason I started doing the rough guide. I must say the best way to get to know the layout is to actually scope it out, but to illustrate it for you here’s an image of the floor plan. You won’t be able to magnify it, but I hope you get the general idea anyway. You can find a blowup of floor plan mounted on a post at the lobby, or you can try the secretariat booth to see if they have copies, but even at bond paper size, it will still be tiny. Anyway, the layout is pretty simple, and there are signs to help you anyway.

To make it easier for you, I’ve broken it down into colored sectors. Will start from the left by color block. Note: the colors are mine; the exhibit halls are actually divided into columns from A-S and the booths from 1 to 490+. I can’t go through all the booths but I’ll try to include as many as I can based on what I remember from past years. Of course, there are always a lot of surprises on the first day, so do check back for my opening day post.

Green (A and B) – I won’t go into a lot of detail in this block, as this is the area for Edu.Shop, a small trade fair area for school materials, supplies, equipments and facilities. It’s mostly a non-book section, but if you’re a stationery junkie like I am, there are plenty of great finds here — pens, notebooks, educational toys, gift items, and many more. The foreign language organizations (British Council, Instituto Cervantes, and Goethe Institut) are in this section too, and they often have interesting publications, a listing of course offerings, and it’s always fun to talk to people from other parts of the world.

Anyway, on to the book fair proper.

Yellow (C to E)

Book Wagon. If you’re musically-inclined, this is your stop for hard to find sheet music spanning various genres! They also have a thoughtful collection of children’s books, the type you won’t find anywhere else.

Precious Pages. A great stop for children’s books (Lampara Books) and other educational items, plus they throw in a lot of freebies with every purchase (and while you’re at it, get a copy of Alamat ng Atis, wink wink)!

WS Pacific. Books at rock bottom prices! A wealth of children’s books: baby books, board books, workbooks, general references, pop-ups, paperdolls, sticker books, and activity books like wordsearch and sudoku. A good selection of cookbooks too.

Scholastic. Another favorite stop (and I get to say hi to Scholastic friends, too!) for me. They often have a bag-all-you can promo going, a good deal if you want to get their series books in one go.

Felta Multimedia. For techie kids — robot demonstrations are always fun to watch!

Church Strengthening Ministry. If you like inspirational books, or you’re looking for a Christmas present for someone who likes inspirational books, check out their P99 promo for business and leadership books, devotional books, relationship books, teacher resources and supplements, and even audio books.

Indigo (F to I)

The University Presses: Ateneo, UP, and UST Catch up on the latest titles from these university presses, especially if you don’t have the time to go to their campus stores. The books are often discounted, and the proximity of their booths will allow you to compare what each one has to offer.

Adarna House. One of the liveliest booths in the book fair, for sure, as it’s always bustling with activity – book signings, storytelling, games and mascot appearances. They’re celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and it looks like they’ve got a grand launch planned on Saturday (the 18th).  Oh, and if you spot bargain items in their booth, just go and get them tagged and bagged; chances are they’ll be gone as soon as you let go of them.

Culture and History: Tradewinds and NHI. Small booths, but they pack a lot of local flavor. Where else will you find a collection of Kenkoy comics (Tradewinds) or facsimiles of Rizal’s Noli and Fili manuscripts (NHI)?

Bookmark. Filipiniana, coffeetable books, and children’s books. If you’re hunting down hardbound copies of Lacson-Locsin’s Noli and Fili, this is the place to go, you won’t get a better deal anywhere else. Ooh, and postcards! You can never have enough Filipiniana postcards!

OMF Literature. A popular stop for inspirational books and children’s books.Another booth always bustling with activity — book signings, live deejays, and storytelling sessions; there always seems to be a party in there. They have a great bargain book selection every year, too!

Aklat Eklat (specifically, in G198). Lovely lovely leather book covers and bookmarks specially priced for the book fair!

New Day. Filipiniana trade books and rows and rows of bargain bins!

Tahanan Books. Beautiful storybooks and drool-worthy Filipiniana. Discounts worth taking advantage of, and some bargain items too.

Goodwill Bookstore. Good selection of arts and crafts books, classics, and some hard to find children’s books. They have bargain books as well, slim pickings, but I’ve lucked out a few times.

A-Z Direct Marketing. Promos for subscriptions to Reader’s Digest and other international publications, and great deals on Reader’s Digest books.

PSICOM. Quick reads (ghost story collections, joke compilations, comic books)

Red (J-N)

Asean Book Publishers Association. Interesting showcase of publishing in the various Asean countries.

Diwa Learning Systems. Big on science — they have a lot of interactive science displays that will keep the kids — and you too! — entertained.

National Book Store. Always an exciting showcase of the latest titles from various publishing houses, with exclusive promos per publisher. And the bargain area is always awesome, with a different selection every year! Freebies with every purchase, too.

F & J de Jesus. Imported books on a variety of subjects, including art, education, and children’s books. Some fiction titles as well.

Cyan (O to S)

Vibal Publishing – Textbooks, children’s books, and affordable but beautiful Filipiniana coffee table books and art books. They’re introducing a whole line of e-books (Vee Press) this year, too, making them the pioneers in e-book publishing in the Philippines.

Anvil Publishing – Always one of the booths I spend the most time in. Good buys (especially the latest titles), multiple bargain bins, cozy reading areas, and it’s always a great spot to hobnob with the literati!

Summit Publishing – Get your magazine fix here, with the latest issues of Summit mags and bundled back issues. Oh, and Summit books too!

C&E Bookshop– All the textbooks you could possibly need.


My tips are more or less the same as last year’s:

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. And get all your magazine subscriptions at the book fair, the promos for subscriptions are out of this world!

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! Better yet, enjoy the co-located events in the function rooms on top of the exhibit halls:  SuperKids 2010 (Sept. 17-18, Function Room 3), an early childhood educational fair that will showcase focused discussions, learning sessions and workshops that will equip parents, guardians, educators and adults with the latest in child care and development, parenting and education, and cool activities for children; JobFest 2010 (Sept. 16-17, Function Room 4), a career fair that gathers the country’s leading employers in search for the best additions to their rapidly growing teams; ACCESS: The 2nd Philippine English Language Conference (Sept. 16-17, Function Rooms 1 and 2); and The Best of Anime (Sept. 19, Function Room 5), a festival featuring anime exhibits, gaming, cosplay,concert and special activities that will thrill anime and manga enthusiasts.


That’s it for now — I need all the shut-eye I can get for the next five days.

Will try to update you about the book fair as much as I can, especially for the deals and steals, but I really hope I’ll see you there!

12 thoughts on “The Rough Guide to the 31st Manila International Book Fair”

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