Nothing is sold for the full price in the MIBF.

Sea of Books: The Manila International Book Fair 2013

The annual Manila International Book Fair is already on its 34th year, but this self-proclaimed bookworm is a newbie.

With my free ticket from Fully Booked in tow, I dropped by my first MIBF yesterday afternoon—the end of the workweek, a payday, and Friday the 13th. None of these omens rattled my adventure.

Don’t just “drop by.” Spend a whole afternoon or day to make it worth your while.

My top three highlights:

1. They don’t call it the Filipino Woodstock of books for nothing. I give National Bookstore the marketing medal for being the first gigantic section you’ll lay your eyes on as soon as you enter the fair. I was so engrossed with completing my collection of classic literature that I forgot there are other indie groups and rockstars to visit, including Fully Booked.

2. There’s something for everyone. I was nearly knocked down by teens gushing over Paulo Coelho’s section. I rubbed elbows with bargain-hunting moms looking for red-tag coloring books. I saw dozens of nuns and priests with eco bags full of paperbacks and hard covers. I hope they didn’t see me paying for my sister’s 50 Shades Trilogy (I swear it’s not mine, Father!). I even found Barney Stinson’s The Bro Code drowning in a pile of chick lit titles.

3. It’s like a Black Friday Sale! Everything from National Bookstore and Fully Booked is at least 20% off. There are freebies and bundle deals plus the additional 20% off when you check out. There are raffles and book signing events with both local and foreign authors. Other vendors and local publishers like Anvil, Goodwill, and OMF Lit have sales up to 80% off. There are rows of independent and small-scale publishing groups for those looking for something other than the usual bestsellers.

Some tips if you’d like to come out alive:

1. Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale.

2. Bring a shopping list of titles you’ve always wanted to buy, or topics and subjects you really need. Do your best to stick to the list.

3. Think about where you’ll store the books. If you can’t picture it fitting in any spot in your house or office, then forget about buying that doghouse-sized hardbound set.

4. Step away from the mosh pits, a.k.a. unorganized stacks of cheap warehouse clutter that other gullible customers are browsing and hoarding—unless your kid truly wants that outdated High School Musical coloring book. That’s also the place where most thieves lurk to pick your pocket while you’re busy gloating over a P50 find.

5. Watch your valuables. This is still Manila, where you can lose an iPhone faster than you can say, “Encyclopedia!”

Last day is September 15, bookworms!

The MIBF runs from Sept. 11-15, 2013, 10 am to pm at the SMX Convention Center, Seashell Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.