Today is the last day of the 38th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), a 5-day long event held at SMX Convention Center, which showcases and sells basically all the books available in the Philippines. From local to international bestsellers, you may purchase them from 20%-70% off their original price!
This event is held once a year, usually in the month of September, and for 2017 it was scheduled from the 13th to the 17th of the month. If you want to know more about it, please visit their website.
Personally, I only discovered this wonderful event in the year 2013 where I bought my first copy of my most favorite book on earth. So you can see why I consider this place and event a magical moment that only passes by once a year. Kind of like Christmas…but in September!
I didn’t get to visit in 2014 and 2015 because I was at a point in my life where I didn’t read at all (yikes!). But in 2016, after my discovery of BookTube and Bookstagram, I attended the book fair and made sure I came back this year.
Last year I went on the first day of the event and came back on a weekend. BIG MISTAKE. The difference between the amount of people who went on a weekday and weekend was so vast, you will not believe it. Not to mention the books available.
During the first day, everything is organized and fresh out of the boxes. The books are still put together in order in their designated bookshelves and sorted by genre.
Now, I’m NOT saying that the staff of each store do not fix the shelves before the day starts anew, but people tend to get crazy and lazy as the event moves closer to the weekend.
This year, I made a vow to NOT come back on a weekend. Last year was enough for me. You can barely walk and set a pace for yourself while browsing because people are constantly bumping into you and basically pushing you in a tide of people where you can’t help but just go along with the current because you’re powerless. The lines for the cashiers are also blockbuster long! You’d think that this is their last chance at buying books (which it probably is because the event ends on a Sunday).
So I went on the first day and the third day for this year.
And you best believe how relaxed and easy my experiences at MIBF was for 2017!
Day 1: September 13, 2017 (Wednesday)
I was ready to go by myself because let’s be real, going on a weekday in the morning is not something a lot of people can do because people have jobs. So I couldn’t invite my bookish friends or my family. But in the end, my big sister ended up coming along with me. Instead of commuting by myself, I got to sit in the passenger sit of the car as she drove us to SMX Convention Center.
I got free admissions passes from National Book Store which they gave away during Readers and Writers Festival about a month ago. But if you don’t happen to get free passes, you can just pay a fee of PHP20 for adults and PHP15 for students. Fullybooked also gives away free admissions passes to anyone before MIBF starts. You just need to visit any of their branches and ask for it from the Customer Service counters.
I didn’t want to wander the isles and end up buying books that I didn’t think hard enough about if I really wanted them, or end up buying a book which I’ll end up hating and giving away in the end.
So I came up with a plan.
- I read reviews of each of the new book releases beforehand
- I listed the titles and authors on my phone as reference
- I asked my bookish friends their opinions about said books
- I contemplated whether some of the books on my list, I can buy for cheaper price somewhere else (i.e. Robin Hobb books)
- I consulted my TBR pile and see when I can best read the new books I’m going to buy
Here’s another tip to fellow Filipino readers:
Check if National Book Store has the titles you want before you run off to Fullybooked and purchase there.
I personally know how much we all prefer Fullybooked nowadays because they carry more YA literature, adult high fantasies, and newly released books in general.
But trust me, you may think that National Book Store doesn’t have it, but look around and ask around first.
Their books are far cheaper!
You want examples? I got a copy of Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo from them for PHP370 with the discount! Whilst in Fullybooked, you get it for PHP440 with the discount.
Another example? The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was on my book list and I was going to buy it from Fullybooked because I just thought they had wider variety of fantasy books (which is true), but I didn’t buy it because it cost PHP415 for a mass market paperback! I stumbled upon a copy at National Book Store for only PHP299!
See what I mean?
I didn’t see any other books on my list at National Book Store. I asked if they already have Warcross by Marie Lu because the staff were wearing promotional shirts of it. Sadly, they didn’t have it yet.
So my sister and I transferred to Fullybooked stall. I saw it from afar because they had that giant black banner with red print of their name and it felt to me like a pirate ship in a sea of books! It was awesome.
Now although their books are overpriced and far more expensive than the other bookstores, I will not deny the fact that their store is the most beautiful.
It is like stepping in the cozy library at the home of the wisest and most prominent reader of all the land.
Rows and rows, stacks and stacks, of the most beautiful classics, collector’s editions, box sets, and just all the books and titles you can think of!
Although I only buy books from them which I can’t find from National Book Store, most of the books in my list were available in their store. So I kind of went a little gaga. I was close to tears when I realized that my money was nowhere near enough for me to afford all the books on my list. But I had to forcefully down size.
The best find, however, was Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff… A SIGNED 1st EDITION!!!
I was strolling through the young adult shelves when 2 girls passed by in front of me. I saw one of them carrying a stack of hardbound books (which I can never think of buying for myself because I’m a paperback kind of girl and low-budget reader) and of top of her stack was THE book that I was most looking forward to seeing in MIBF.
But I didn’t dare hope that it’ll be available because MIBF 2016, I came with the hopes of purchasing Nevernight (the first book) and was disappointed that none of the bookstores carried that title. I had to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and visit Kinokuniya just to get my hands on the book (but that’s another story for another blog post!).
As my life’s motto goes: expect the unexpected.
I broke my pattern of strolling around the store and searched for the shelf carrying Godsgrave and I found it! I spent around 10 minutes there searching for the least battered looking and most beautiful copy they had. And truth be told, I even switched the dust jacket of the copy I deemed perfect from the other copy.
- Godsgrave – Jay Kristoff (signed first edition! This one definitely put a hole in my pocket)
- Warcross – Marie Lu (Of course they got to release these first. I knew I’d get them cheaper someplace else but I didn’t think it’ll be in MIBF and I didn’t want to pay full price so I swallowed my pride and just bought it from them)
- Words of Radiance – Brandon Sanderson (I don’t know when I’ll read this, but I have the first book still brand new and covered in my shelf for months now but I want to see them side by side so I finally relented and bought it)
- Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence (I’ve been hearing great things about this book and I’m really curious and want to start the trilogy soon)
- 11/22/63 – Stephen King (I’ve read an excerpt of this and really loved it! But everytime I see it in bookstores, I don’t buy it because it’s expensive and I get distracted by other books but since they IT movie came out, everyone’s talking about Stephen King once again and I just had to read something by him already)
An hour and almost PHP3,000 poorer, my sister and I bought milktea from Coco and it is the best! Try out their Panda Milktea. You won’t regret it.
Then we walked around the mall and went home.
Shortest trip to MIBF, honestly. But I came home happy.
I saw the online posts of other people on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and realize how much I’ve missed by NOT going up to the 2nd floor where they extended the book fair! I also realized how I skipped so much shelves from the other stores and my regret was so real.
So I swore to myself that I will come back. Just not on a weekend.
Day 3: September 15, 2017 (Friday)
After a sleepless Tuesday and stressing over how I want to come back to MIBF asap, I finally decided to brave the Friday traffic and go back.
I feared a bigger crowd because 15th of the month is when people receive their wages here in the Philippines and trust me: Filipinos go straight to the mall and/or go spend their money the moment they receive them. Especially if it’s on a Friday.
This time, I went by myself, though. My sister and I parted ways when it was time for me to transfer to a jeepeney and she was left in the van to go straight to Divisoria where she was headed. We commuted this time.
I just want to apologize to everyone who had the misfortune to bump into me while I was on my way to MIBF and while I was browsing around. I was sweating profusely. It is always so hot in this country. Add the fact that I was commuting and walking around under the sun and carrying a backpack which did nothing to air my already sweaty back.
I didn’t smell or anything. At least I hope I didn’t. I just don’t like it when sweaty people made contact with me by accidentally touching their arm’s skin to mine. So I know the feeling.
I discovered a novella of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin there and it had illustrations on it and I was tempted to buy it but I’m only on the 2nd book of the series and I’m not in a hurry to finish it anytime soon. So what’s the use of the novella aside from it looking pretty?
I went back down to the main convention hall and made sure to go around 3 times in each store before I bought anything.
The guards were already looking at me funny because I took my time inspecting every bookshelf and every book that caught my attention and I wasn’t even holding a shopping basket or one book in my hand that I seemed to be interested on purchasing.
But in the end, I only purchased one book from Fullybooked and I was so happy because it was on my list but I didn’t see it during my first visit and lost all hope that it was even available here in the Philippines. It’s The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner.
I wanted to buy Sabriel by Garth Nix but they only had Lirael and even though I was tempted to buy it, I forced myself not to.
I went to National Book Store and purchased a physical copy of To All The Boys I’ve Love Before by Jenny Han. I was going to attend her Manila book signing event on Saturday and I needed the book so even if I already read it twice in eBook format, I still coughed up the money. It seemed wrong for me to have books 2 and 3 signed because I already have physical copies of those and then NOT have book 1 signed. Especially since book 1 is my favorite out of the trilogy.
I also ended up buying a copy of Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I don’t know what possessed me especially since I was so disappointed with how Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended.
And that concludes my experiences, haul, and feelings about the 38th Manila International Book Fair.
I already can’t wait for next year!
Though I wish bookstores will offer more than 20% off the new releases.
Books are getting more expensive as times go by.
Have I mentioned that Nancy Drew books by Caroline Keene have DOUBLED its price since I last bought copies of them around 10 years ago??? No? Well they have! And I am upset.