40th MIBF and reflections from a book haul

Bookworms, hoarders and curious people of all ages gathered from September 11-15, 2019 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City for the 40th edition of the Manila International Book Fair. It was worth the visit though a bit frustrating because of some inefficient crowd control systems in place.

MIBF 2019

In general, the Fair was a success as almost everyone satisfied their respective interests — publishers and sellers sold books, book worms and hoarders got their loots, and curious people addressed their questions. It was also a very good opportunity for almost unknown authors to showcase their books.

Available also in the Fair are books on local literature and history. In fact, it was a privilege to find the titles of the works of Kristian Sendon Cordero, Jose Cabalquinto, Danton Remoto and others without paying a visit to Ateneo de Naga Press.

On another note, however, the Fair highlighted the unequal opportunity among book readers – enthusiast or forced alike — to access the books they need. While those in Metro Manila and the nearby provinces from as far as Tarlac and Batangas can pay a visit to the event and avail of the discounts, the case is otherwise for those residing up north and down south. This is also true with MV Doulos and the Big Bad Wolf .

But of course, it is economies of scale that dictates the impracticality of bringing the books anywhere under the sun to the people that need them. Even the Department of Education is struggling to do that as three children in public schools particularly in far flung barangays has to share one book while 3 million books and learning materials lie idle in warehouses according to the Commission on Audit.

These being so, how can we encourage the love of books in a nation of non-readers?

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