Publishers exhibited to the 33rd Manila International Book Fair

Sunday is usually the exam day in Economics. So after taking a not-that-difficult exam, I decided to go somewhere to relax and make my eyes be filled with excitement and things I’ve never seen before.

It was the last day of the 33rd Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) when I decided to go there. It was at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

A fee of Php 20 for adult and Php 15 for students and children for the entrance at the MIBF were not expensive and the very practical way to spend it. Green ticket or red ticket, no matter what is your social status, will not be and never be a big gap.

This year’s book fair was a very big event. It was attended not just by the most celebrated publishers, but also small publishers in the Philippines. Importing international book companies were also displayed and sold their books.

When I entered the entrance door, books welcomed me immediately, children’s books especially. Its Php 10 price was the reason why mommies were really extending their hands just to get any books that would satisfy the taste of their kids.

The big signage and the wide space of the National Book Store mean power over the other bookstores in MIBF. People buy more though they are doing it periodically outside the event.

Turning left, my eyes immediately saw the big signage of the National Book Store. Even though I am visiting their stores outside periodically, I never felt any sickness or I am not satiated. I entered the right wing entrance so reference books were the first shelves. I looked for my books. I was disappointed at first because it never gets any discount. So then, I just realized at that time that in MIBF, books were not just sold but it also showed to the people that there were those books or titles existing or existed. By the way, the National Book Store occupied the biggest space in the convention. They are national, after all. And it was my first time to see NBS selling only books not school and office supplies where they were known for. The event was book fair, after all.

I just turned two shelves then I went out the NBS booth to where I entered. Near the red booth was the J and J De Jesus, Inc. They exhibited international books about engineering, medicine, communication, tourism and other major fields. The books were a little bit pricey, ranging from (as what I have just held) Php 400 to Php 2000. But the price complemented the book itself.

Name matters. This was what PSICOM proved as customers piled up just to buy books by not-so-mainstreamed Filipino authors during the 33rd MIBF.

After walking through booths and booths, I remembered some publishers that had been publishing good books and known to many. Then, I looked for the PSICOM. It was publishing books by Filipino authors. The True Philippine Ghost Stories collection was the ultimate books they had published and it got popular. Days before, Ramon Bautista retweeted the tweets of people who bought his book. I sought for it but good thing it was sold out. As in, sold out. But, I’m lucky because there was in the booth the authors of ‘To Kill an Angry Bird’ and “Kwentong Bigote’. I wasn’t able to buy the book.

Next thing to my mind after when I came across the PSICOM booth was the Rex Book Store. Rex Book Store, as what I remembered, was publishing textbooks and references made by Filipino authors. I remembered when I was just in my 2nd year high school, I used to request to my grandfather to buy me books made by the Rex. It helped a lot with my studies before. The Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo of the Rex were the two books I have until now. Their booth was located at the back part of the area. They had the purpose, by the way. They made a stage-like or cave-like booth, mostly brown. Their booth placed 3rd in the award for the Best Booth category. But I was expecting bigger booth for them.

Simply Rex. They do not deserved to Win 3rd place for the Best Booth. 1st must be given to them.

Philippine Hearts Romances continuously gives the factor of ‘kilig’ to the Filipino women so they have the reason to have their spare time consumed.

Complemented to the Rex was the booth of the publishing house where pocketbooks, mostly enjoyed by housemaids, teenage girls, mommies and women at home, women at work or even, professional women and or gays, were the common books. Precious Pages significantly entered the publishing industry as they are printing books known as the Precious Hearts Romances focusing on love, lust, compassion and revenge emphasizing on women and women empowerment, written in Tagalog or Tagalog-English. They were also writing books for men and the bachelors but still, their audiences are women. The PHR somehow became more popular as one of the biggest networks gave life to some of its books. I did not enter their booth so I did not see what were their products aside from pocketbooks but I believe, there were others. I got a free poster saying, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey in Filipino Version’. Then, I got curious.

Hardbound books at the Goodwill Bookstore.

Because I am a random person, I randomly entered booths to booths. Big spaces of publishers and their big names attracted me. Goodwill Bookstore had it, done it. They imported hard bound and paperback books that you wouldn’t expect that they had. Ranging from engineering to mathematics, arts to communication and sciences to medicine, these were all the books you would find in their shelves. BookSale was but another store to look for international books in different fields of study.

OMF Literature was also eye-catching. I knew this bookstore because I usually read privately at their branch in Boni Avenue. OMF Lit was known for publishing and selling Christian-related books such as, of course, the Bible, their thinnest book entitled, ‘Buhay na ‘Di Bitin’, which is all about

OMF Literature never ran out of customers. Christian books were good to them so this can be the result.

contentment in life and life we seek and dream of, inspirational books and even, self-help. They were selling their books at Php 5 as the cheapest but very meaningful.

The Philippine Biblical Society, the Jesuits Communications, International Buddhist Progress Society of Manila, among others were selling books about religion, also, gifts and souvenirs. But let me just be honest, as what I had observed, that not-that many people were scanning in the shelves of the Bible and other books related to religion. Those people may include me. But I never forget to look on them. My mind was just overwhelmed and overexcited with what I was seeing.

Children’s books in Filipino language also deserved hands down. They did not run out of customers. Ilaw ng Tahanan. Lampara Books and Adarna Books still had the pride for books in Filipino with very good covers and cheap prices.

University Presses also brought their books in the book fair which was of course made by their students and alumni. The University of Santo Tomas and the Ateneo Manila University presses were there. I entered both booth and one of the staff of one asked me which I did not want to say which university, if I am a student of that school. I answered no and I proudly say, ‘I’m from UP’. Then, I heard no reply. But sorry to say, there was no UP Press exhibited. Sayang.

(Left): Ateneo de Manila University Press. (Right): University of Santo Tomas. These two presses stood by their names as they published books by their great minds.

You already know that NBS had the biggest space and within the grounds of it was the Anvil Publications. It was only where I saw the books of Ricky Lee, Ambeth Ocampo, Virgilio Almario and other Filipino authors. Anvil Publications has the tagline of, ‘The premier source of Philippine Literature.’

When I walked towards the other side of the convention, I walked in an aisle. Then, I just knew that the both sides had the same image of selling imported books, usually from Scholastic. The booth had no name above it so you would never know what was the store. And looking on the side, there was their tarpaulin. This was the Fully Booked. It was where you were always seeing staffs in their maroon-colored uniform. And if you were there, you were like a professional and rich because many of its customers were acting like that and for the reason that the books were costly, who could afford it? But the books were very good in quality. As in, the covers were eye-catching that would make you to buy it.

Vibal Publishing and Scholastic, Inc. did not sell books or any reading materials. Their booths were very interactive. Vibal used technology where kids could answer questions on-screen, touching the big screen. Scholastic put a number of computers where people who sat in the front of it would answers some questions after reading a selection. And how they performed there would say what was the rate of their reading proficiency. It was like a how well did you read challenge. Many booths were also put ipads and kindles for the people who were new to it would experience reading in the form of ebooks.

National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the Manila Bulletin, Merriam and Webster Bookstore and others were the other exhibitors that caught my attention but they only occupy not more than the third of that of the NBS.

Deep analysis to the Philippine History and other books were the kind they were selling at the MIBF.

New Day will have the future in publishing industry as they set off their machines for unique books for Filipinos.

Of all the bookstores and publishing houses exhibited in the MIBF, there was this only booth that really got my attention and I was surprised. They were selling books – old and new books about mostly of history. Their books range from Php 5 to Php 500. Nothing new if you could see but there were titles that were new to me, very new. There were books I never imagined existing. There were also about activism, local histories of the provinces in the country and others. It was the New Day Publishers.

The Manila International Book Fair was there to showcase not the publishers, not the companies nor corporations, not the enterprises but the authors and of course, the books that continuously being read and patronized by the people. Hundreds or thousands of people had gone to the MIBF and this signifies that there are still those people who believe in the power of books, despite of its challenges it face with technology as an important factor. The long queues for authors’ sign would be an evidence. Pol Medina of Pugad Baboy, and Alex Cruz and Arnel Aquitania, both from PSICOM, not only just signed their books but also written their messages to the people who bought their books.

(Left): Pol Medina of Pugad Baboy. (Center): Alex Cruz of Kwentong Bigote. (Right): Arnel Aquitania of To Kill an Angry Bird.

The Manila International Book Fair has gone too far. Its 33rd years will hopefully be 100th or 150th year in the future. This would only continue if people would never stopped doing, publishing and buying books. [Oops! Filipino authors only!]

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