CIBF18', better known as The Colombo International Book Fair 2018 organaized by the Book Publishers' Association of Sri Lanka, kicked off yesterday (21st) for the 20th consecutive time.
It takes place at BMICH's Sirimavo Bandaranaike Exhibition Centre, and it'd be open from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm until next Sunday (30th of September). With the participation of 450 exhibitors, including 40 from abroad, this year's exhibition is big as it can get.
Based on our quick trip to BMICH yesterday, here's a tiny heads up about what to expect in CIBF 2018.
1. Up to 20% off
Unfortunately, the highest discount rate that you can get at CIBF this year is 20%. According to what we heard, the Book Publishers' Association has implemented a strict 'not-more-than-20%-off' protocol, as a method of preserving the quality standards of CIBF.
We honestly don't know how it can protect the 'quality standards' of the biggest, most awaited literary event of the year and quite frankly, it's really unfair to the customers. But anyway, we noticed that almost all the book stalls are offering 20% discount, at least for the books that are published by them.
2. Chandana Mendis Publishers – MIA
Well, same as last year, Chandana Mendis Publishers is MIA this time, but his publications aren't. We saw shelves and shelves full of Chandana Mendis's novels, including his new book Wedi Handa, at most of the other stalls. You can get it with 20% discount.
3. Sweet Deal for Stationaries
'Ten' is a stationary brand in Sri Lanka that have been gaining popularity for quite some time now. Their stall at CIBF had some pretty sweet deals for exercise books – buy 50 and get 25 free, buy 100 and get 50 free etc. This is a good one if you have a kid in school, or even to grab some office stationaries.
4. The English Book Collection
Featuring some trending collection of english novels and educational materials, Jeya and Markeen book stalls are here to save grace, as usual.
Also, if you're broke at the moment (like me), and can't wait until the pay day, head on over to your favorite second hand book stalls at CIBF.
5. The Bargain Deals
The bargain shops, conducted by some of the biggest book publishers in the country are presented in the N hall, and their discount rate goes up to 50%.
This includes stalls from Vijitha Yapa, Sarasavi, M.D. Gunasena, Samudra and Akura publishers, Fast Publishers, and Wijesooriya Grantha Kendraya etc. The prices of the books here start from Rs. 100.
6. Other Discounts
Sakhila Book Publishers has this tiny book basket in their stall, and it carries around a few hundred bargain-priced Sinhala novels. Ranging from Rs. 100 – 400, the books in this collection are pretty old, and not very popular, but still, there's no harm in checking them out.
Also there's a special stall for aat students, where you can get aat related books with 10% discount.
Aside from books, there are a bunch of stalls in CIBF that you can visit for arts and crafts. Take the stall by Cultural Ministry for an example. Offering up some great collection of CDs that contain the best stage drama music on this island, it also has a number of books written by our reputed dramatists and playwrights. The CDs include music from the classics – Maname, Kusa Pabavathi, and Wessanthara Noorthi etc. They also give 40% off on these products.
The Central Cultural Fund is also here with some elegant replicas of Buddha – that are available for 25% discount.
7. 'Vindanaye Nawaatheana Ahasa'
Uniting every bit of literary values tucked away in this tiny island, CIBF has this event called Vindanaye Nawaatheana Ahasa at J310 hall. It's dedicated for all the Sinhala poets and basically anyone who admires poetry.
As per usual, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CB) has established a stall at CIBF, featuring the Annual Report of CB – 2017, among other services and documents. Apart from that, we spotted a few stalls that are managed by some higher education centers, including E.T.I Learning, and British Council.
The food scene at this year's fair isn't anything special. It's just the regular stalls of Maggi, Kottumee, Keells, Nescafe, Smak, Coca-Cola, serving up the usual noodles, hotdogs, soft drinks and whatnot.
We stopped by the Game Kade managed by Mount Lavinia Hotel, which offers a range of authentic Sri Lankan snacks like Weli Thalapa, Wandu, Helapa, Manioc, Sweet Potatoes, Pol Roti and even Saruwath.
The staff here doesn't seem to be quite aware of what they have to do, so be prepared to stand in some long lines. We had to wait around 15 minutes to get ourselevs a cup of ready-made saruwath.
It's only day one, and the exhibition seems to be getting packed by the hour, and this long weekend will double the crowd for sure. Anyway, please make sure not to be a garbage person at this event, and be sure to bring an umbrella – Colombo weather is quite muggy these days.
Happy book hunting!