ONCE UPON a time in Malaysia, there lived a couple named Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng who shared a dream of opening a book shop and starting a regular book fair. However, they had no money for advertising. So they enlisted the help of The Big Bad Wolf.
“We started very small. It was just me and my husband with no management staff. We don’t have resources, we don’t have proper background, we don’t have [an] investor… nothing,” BookXcess founder and executive director Jacqueline Ng told BusinessWorld.
Still the couple persevered and opened BookXcess, a book store dealing in excess or remaindered books from international distributors. There were so many books that the couple took them on the road.
But they needed to establish a name for their book fair, and the couple thought of one interesting literary character whose name would spark curiosity.
“We chose the Big Bad Wolf because it is a character that most of us know. The Wolf allowed us to be more creative and interesting,” she said. “When you are forced, you become more creative. It ended up to be a brilliant name.”
In 2009, the book sale opened with 120,000 books. Its success led The Wolf to travel to countries such as Indonesia, Dubai, and Thailand.
The Big Bad Wolf Book Sale visited Manila last year and was so successful that it will return to Manila again this year. It will run from Feb. 22 to March 4 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. This year, the 24-hour book sale is expected to carry 2 million books, from young adult fiction to romance, science fiction to crime thrillers, business and self-help, architecture, design, cooking, and children’s fiction, all with discounts ranging from 50% to 90% of normal retail prices. Admission is free.
“Big Bad Wolf is not just [about] someone selling books. We advocate reading. The whole purpose of bringing a huge volume and selection of good books at affordable prices is to bring the excitement that even if you are not a reader, you are excited just to come to the event, just to take a look at what it is about,” said Ms. Ng during a press conference on Jan. 29 at the Edsa Shangri-la hotel in Mandaluyong City.
“And hoping that by encouraging someone to come to an event, even though they’re not a reader, they do not intend to buy one book, they will be inspired to touch one. They’ll be inspired to be curious about [them],” Ms. Ng said.
This year, the sale will carry augmented reality (AR) books for children by Little Hippo books. Classic children’s stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears are enhanced with digital pop-up images with the use of the free Hippo Magic App. Readers get to explore the pages of the book as they navigate the story through their phones.
Aside from encouraging all kinds of people to read, The Big Bad Wolf is supporting communities with good works.
In October 2018, the Big Bad Wolf donated P5 million to Gawad Kalinga (GK) which was used to build and refurnish libraries in many of GK’s communities.
“This partnership of GK with Big Bad Wolf hopes to bring books to the poorest which can be life-changing. So, we built libraries and we intend to build more in Visayas and Mindanao,” said Luis Oquiñena, executive director of Gawad Kalinga.
“The building blocks of GK are the communities and the homes. The building blocks of Big Bad Wolf are the books… More than the commercial aspect of it, it’s really [about] starting an advocacy that can inspire the next generation,” he added.
The people behind the sale also have plans to schedule visits to Cebu and Davao. “We are definitely looking towards going back to the cities that we have been [to] last year. We know that having a reading advocacy is not about being there once. It’s about [being] able to continue to nurture,” Ms. Ng said.
“We are [also] looking into venturing into the smaller provinces so that we can have a wider reach, especially to the smaller areas that are even more deprived of books,” she said.
For information, visit www.facebook.com/bbwbooksphilippines. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman