My First Big Bad Wolf Experience

For someone, like me, who loves books and reading, a roomful of books and a book sale are a huge come-on. So, when the Big Bad Wolf book sale came to town, I made sure to allot time to visit the book sale. Fortunately, I have a friend who shares the same pastime (and enthusiasm), and another who supports my reading (read: nerdy) lifestyle, the latter offered to drive and accompany us to the venue.

The Big Bad Wolf event is probably the largest discounted book fair in Asia that covers eight countries — Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, and Indonesia. This year the event in Indonesia was held at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE) in Bumi Damai Serpong (BSD), Tangerang, just at the outskirts of Jakarta, on March 1-11. Books were sold at generous discounts and the bazaar operated 24 hours per day during the fair’s duration.

We drove to ICE as the sun was rising on a Sunday hopeful that we would get good finds and good deals. As we entered the exhibition hall, and seeing the piles of books, we just exclaimed, “it’s so fluffy, I could die” (credit: Despicable Me). The hall was a paradise for bookworms. We immediately took our carts and started wading through pools of books.

I started at the fiction section where I took three Gabriel Garcia Marquez classics, three out of the four volumes of a Japanese epic, and a few novels by contemporary authors. I went next to the graphic novels and children’s books section, pored over some, read a few, and grabbed a Japanese manga. The non-fiction section followed next where I found a book on Samsung which I have been searching for for a couple of years now. I was about to take a book on South China Sea but I remembered that I have a digital copy of that which I haven’t read yet. There was a lot of interesting books on photography, science and technology, food, and history and politics but the tag prices weren’t within my willingness to pay. I skipped the Indonesian books section. After almost three hours I ended up buying 11 books.

The “scary” part was the payment section because we knew we were about to pay more than our budget’s worth. But the exciting (and happiest) part is that we were entitled to huge discounts using our credit card points. Wasn’t that amazing?!

Looking back at my Big Bad Wolf experience, it is interesting to note that, despite the Indonesians’ low interest in reading (see links below), there was a decent turn-out of visitors to the book sale. Many came lugging travel luggage to contain their purchases. There were kids holding their parents’ hands tightly, it became a family affair; there were couples who made book-hunting their date; and there were groups of friends who spent their weekend buying books.

It is also interesting to see a number of young Indonesians who were browsing through or purchasing books in the English language. This implies that many young people in ASEAN’s largest economy have improved their facility of the English language.

The Big Bad Wolf, in their marketing and promotion, indicated that imported books were discounted generously between 60% and 80%. However, most of the foreign published books were marked down lower than published discount rate. In fact, nine out of the 11 books I purchased were discounted 30%.

Unless they were sold out, many books/titles of popular authors were not present in the book fair. Children’s books dominated the hall, it seems, and parents were the one’s more excited about this. Starting them, kids, young is great.

The BBW experience was a happy tiresome one but going home with lots of books and reading those is bliss. And, as the 2019 edition of Big Bad Wolf is concluded, we read happily ever after.

…and they read happily ever after.

Additional Readings:

Antara News, “Indonesia needs to revive interest in reading books”

The Jakarta Post, “Indonesia ranks second-last in reading interest: Study”

The Statistical Portal, “Which countries read the most?”

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