Text and photos by Giselle P. Kasilag
TO PARAPHRASE the saying, it takes a library to raise a child. For a country like the Philippines where children (14 and below) account for 35% of a population of 104 million, it will certainly require more libraries filled with more books to adequately raise the nation’s youth.
The arrival of the Big Bad Wolf — a massive book sale boasting of 2 million books under one roof — last year appeared to have energized the country and increased the engagement with the physical book. For over a week, thousands lined up, browsed, and purchased cartloads of books while taking the required selfies for various social media platform.
The much-awaited return to Manila, however, raised the question of whether the interest would be sustained or even surpassed. Big Bad Wolf officially opened on Feb. 22 and while it is still too early to tell how it compares to the success of the first run, clearly the interest is still there.
A good number of changes were made. For one, more traditional shopping carts are available on top of the plastic bins. After all, pulling the latter filled with hardbound books can be painful to the shoulders. The traditional carts are more friendly to buyers looking to bring home a bigger haul.
Like last year, buyers are allowed to store their finds temporarily before heading to the cashier. This allows them to shop for more books without the difficulty of pulling around a heavy bin. This year, however, the temporary storage has been expanded and more personnel are on hand to assist people who are buying more than a cartload.
Food, which was a major issue in last year’s sale, has now been made available within the complex (but outside the sale area). It is still quite small and the number of tables are not really adequate but there are far more choices this year and many options are of the street food variety — easily to hold and can be consumed without having to sit on a table.
The main focus, however, is still the books. And just like the year before, there are many bargains to be had. This year’s sale follows exactly the same lay-out as last year. The row of fiction books greet buyers entering through the far-right (facing the building). The opposite end is where the children’s books can be found. The rest is non-fiction heaven — including art, sports, culinary, history, travel, crafts, and science books. In the center are special titles — either special editions or boxed sets of hard to find books that are pricier than the rest but are still a massive bargain.
Bargain is best defined by a full-color, hardbound book entitled Aftermath by Joel Meyerowitz. It is a photographic record of Ground Zero after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. In pristine condition, it is available for P480.
Similar quality books on history and art sell for under P1,000 including Life And Death of Picasso (P480), The Art Of Living (P580), and Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists Fifty Years (P780).
Just like last year, there were several tables devoted to graphic novels. But even casual comic book fans would be happy to bring home books highlighting the favorite Marvels Avenger characters. Hardbound copies of Marvel: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know sells for P580; Ultimate Marvel sells for P980; and for the more serious Marvel geek, the Marvel Infinity Companion sells for P2,350.
While the original Harry Potter series books are still unavailable, there are companion books that can be purchased, especially those the highlight the magic it took to bring the books on to the big screen.
Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson fame) fans, however, will have much to celebrate. An entire spread is dedicated to his books. Hardbound copies of his various series’ are sold for P230 each. A large, hardbound companion book entitle Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes sell for only P350.
Fans of Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, and other major authors of thrillers can bring home pristine paperback copies for P190 to P230 per title. The arrangement can be a bit confusing since every Crime and Thriller table (spanning about four rows) would contain different titles from the same authors rather than having the same author on the same table. If the title needed isn’t on the first table, buyers can check the others and may be rewarded for their patience.
For parents looking to stock up their libraries with classic titles that their children will definitely study in school, there is an ArtFolds series that provides readers with folding instructions of the book pages (yes, they want you to fold the pages!) to create a sculpture that is related to the story. Treasure Island & Other Adventures folds up to reveal a sun pattern. The Snow Queen & Other Tales folds up to a snowflake. Sense & Sensibility folds up to reveal the word “Love.” All the books are being sold for P290 each.
Culinary books still offer some of the best bargains. Hardbound books by noted chefs such as Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Mike Isabella, and Heston Blumenthal go for P380 to P580.
Clearly, printed books are not a thing of the past. Beyond the selfies and the social media check-ins, the success of the Big Bad Wolf is a wonderful affirmation that reading is always fashionable.
The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale is ongoing at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, open 24 hours until March 4. Admission to the sale is free. There are on-ground contests with 20 winners selected daily. There is also one grand prize to be won — a bookshelf worth of books. The winner for this grand prize will be announced on March 3.
Text and photos by Giselle P. Kasilag