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Read this, get lost

By Jullie Y. Daza

DO people who read newspapers also read books?

If your answer is yes, this is for you.

“The world’s biggest book sale” at low, low prices is coming to Manila with two million books gathered on one flat floor – no stairs – from Feb. 16 to 25 at the World Trade Center, 24 hours each day of the sale, admission free.

Big Bad Wolf, as the event is called – “huff and puff and blow away” the high prices of books, named after the beast that tried to devour Little Red Riding Hood – has been wildly successful in Malaysia, where it started in 2009, and in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, too. Traffic jams at midnight marked its impact in Kuala Lumpur; this book feast could well be a bigger success in Manila, where Filipinos enjoy the reputation of being the most English-literate readers in Southeast Asia (with a few publishers in Filipino invited to participate).The lure of shopping with a suitcase to hunt for books across all genres, fiction and nonfiction, with 30,000 titles to choose from, speaks volumes and chapters and pages to bookworms. Forty-two cashiers will be on the floor to handle 50,000 book lovers expected every 24 hours.

Miguel Mercado, marketing head for BBW Manila, said the fair, on its first edition here, was conceived last July with Andrew Yap and Jackie Ng of KL. Shipping, unloading 50 containers, and finding a temporary home for their cargo was a logistical problem. Not only are our exhibit halls too few or not large enough, only SMX and WTC are accessible to forklifts because they have no stairs. In contrast, Bangkok has humongous halls with double the space at half the rent. What was no problem was pricing the books at 60 to 80 percent less their cover prices – they were acquired from publishers with massive overruns.

Unlike Manny Sison’s widely popular Book Sale’s previously owned books, Wolf’s appetite would be satisfied only with brand-new books. Besides targeting part of the proceeds for Gawad Kalinga, the goal of BBW is to create or rediscover for readers the thrill of holding a “physical” book made of paper between their hands and feeling its texture, smelling the ink and fiber, and getting lost within the words and worlds contained between the covers.

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