Artwork by Eah Dino of The LANCE.
Ah, every book lover's fantasy land. The Manila International Book Fair opened up its gates again from the 14th until the 17th of September 2023, with their fitting theme for the year, "Get Lit!"
Various stalls were set up to feature their books with a wide range of authors and genres scattered around the SMX Convention Center. Books of Romance, Mystery, Young Adult, Dark Academia, Slice of life, and Devotional books were sold.
Some of the exhibits were very familiar to students and their academic lives would not be complete without the books from Rex Education and Phoenix Publishing House, Inc. A few university publishing houses were also present in the fair, as Far Eastern University, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Inc., University of the Philippines Press, and Ateneo de Manila University Press had stalls set up.
Fully Booked racked up tons of people as avid readers flock toward their favorite bookshelves and bookworms pull trolleys to the checkout line. I admit, this exhibit was where we spent most of our time. We perused shelves upon shelves, got excited over titles we wanted to read, and struggled to reach up and squat down just to reach over copies and copies of books.
Seeing new titles and reading the blurb and description while people were tiptoeing to pass by with a few politely saying “excuse me” as they reached over your head to grab the books they wanted on the shelf was definitely an experience. A few instances, a complete stranger handed me a book after I told my cousin I wanted to read it as they were closer to it. As they were passing it to us, they would smile and turn back to the person they were with to gush about the manga they spotted before we could even thank them for helping us.
Part of the fun was calculating how much the books would cost, given that every book was 20% discounted. Some would say that would be a downside of the experience. However, I think budgeting was able to get rid of the idealistic mindset of buying every book I could get my hands on, and actually deciding which titles I could see myself reading in the near future, because trust me, if I had enough money, I would leave the convention with at least three bags full of books.
So, if you see a third year student carrying a brand new copy of “I Want to Die But I Want to Eat Tteokbokki” by Baek Sehee, just know she paid at the counter without even looking at the total because not even reading that book could not hurt as much as the receipt.