The Best Thing About the MIBF Wasn't The Books
by Jace Amodo, October 11, 2018 11:24am
Art by Rejoice Celadina
It wasn't a glorious blue-skied September day when I attended the Manila International Book Fair. The weather condition was twice as erratic and staying in was my best bet—most books are available on iBooks and Kindle anyway, I thought.
I'm glad I made the right decision. The air was an overwhelming welcome when my friend and I reached the convention center. I could almost see myself seated in my favorite chair, fiddling the pages of a new book, a cup of coffee within arm's reach. I missed that.
I pulled myself out of my reverie and saw people lining up on the second floor. National Book Store was having another one of their Book Binge Bazaars, and I knew then that I'd exceed my purchase limit. It’s the Book Binge Bazaar, after all!
At the bazaar, wherever the eyes strayed, there was something to occupy them: books in pristine condition and at affordable price points, carts pulled by different kind of hoarders, and a guy in a red velvet shirt—dope, btw.
I wasted no time on relief or celebration and pulled out my checklist of books I've been hoping to tick for the better part of the year (thanks to the skeptic in me who thinks twice before buying the book's digital version, I have a list too long to erase).
Don't take me wrong, there's nothing inherently wrong with ebooks. In fact, an ebook reader is more ideal when it comes to traveling as it can store hundreds of books, whereas with hard copies, not so much. Features like highlighting and bookmarking also prove useful for backreading.
Truth untold: the "versus" isn't actually placed between digital and printed books, but rather between books and time. I'm sure you've heard of the saying, "too many books, too little time." Literature is literature, no matter what format.
I don’t know about you but people who say nobody reads printed books (or any long-form literature) anymore should have seen what I saw. Fairgoers scrutinizing every nook of this bazaar speaks otherwise. It's as if the shelves were inviting them to swim in the sea of books, whispering "pick me," and invited, they were. It was...therapeutic.
Seeing fellow bookworms splurge on their favorite genres was a love scenario, a heart shaker if you must. What many people thought was a tiny figure in the distance is getting the love it rightfully deserves, hence making it mainstream.
It's comforting to know that there are people who will bend over backward, so to speak, so we wouldn't go back to square one when books were burned and literature was disrupted (although there are rookie fairgoers who hold a book so hastily, which is a sight that'll feel like a punch to the throat).
This was a book fair defined not only by books and our hauls but also by touching family and barkada bondings, genuine author-reader minglings, nostalgic experiences, and utterly inexplicable book-sniffings—a message that speaks to our times today of the publishing industries' situation.
I'm glad I braved the weekend hullabaloos and didn't miss this year's MIBF because I ached for this feeling I didn't realize had set up permanent residence in my right chest. A feeling, a satisfaction, an assurance that even in the midst of technological advancements and a social-media driven society, print is not dead.