The Colombo Book Fair 2012 (A Visit, With Many Photos).

Entering the main hall of the International Book Fair

So the Colombo Book Fair is on, till the 26th of September. Doesn’t sound like a big deal does it? But it is.

The annual Colombo International Book Fair is the largest consumer/public fair in Colombo- attracting, their website claims, over 1 million visitors over its usual nine day run. The terrible state of the traffic in the vicinity of Baudhaloka Mawatha is a frustrating, diesel-belching testament to its popularity.

The ubiquitous discounts

Virtually all the country’s major publishers run stalls at fair and ply their bound, and paperback wares at 15-20% discount.

Just about all the printed matter in the country seems to be available but beyond books the fair has evolved into something of a Colombo recreational event. With Rs. 10 tickets, lots of inexpensive food, a large, pleasant public space in which young men and women can meet and mingle without the imminent danger of sleaze, its not hard to see why people travel from as far as Galle and Negombo to attend this annual anomaly.

Bustling sales at a book stall

To an extent the popularity of the book fair reflects the pointed lack of public spaces and events accessible to most of the city/country’s population. But the books themselves are also remarkably popular. The oft-heard complaint- Sri Lankans don’t read, is clearly untrue. The book fair’s million visitor make it abundantly clear that people do read, and love to read. The cash registers at the more popular stalls work, literally, nonstop and there were vendors from Malaysia, Pakistan and India all making an effort to profit from the Lankan love of books.

A more pulpy book

While a lot of what is being read- sort of Sinhala pulp romance novels or translations of western self-help guides may not be of the highest quality what’s beyond despute is the fact that as ereaders, and (online book stores) storm the rest of the world, in Sri Lanka at least the humble printed book is still in rude health. For our part trawling the English section, that our shameful language incompetence confines us to, we found a pretty comprehensive selection of what’s available in Colombo book stores today – 50 Shades Of Grey anyone? but plenty of classics, biographies, textbooks and cookbooks were also on sale.

The BMICH building and the model farm inside the grounds

The highlight though was really the laid back feel of the fair. It honestly felt like a fair in the old rural English sense of the word, not just a book sale but a place to meet, mingle, ogle, eat and peruse the merchandise. Absolutely unpretentious and just a good afternoon out(gets a bit too busy in the evenings). The BMICH’s sprawling grounds are an added draw- we found an archery lawn and an amazing model farm run by CIC – complete with lemon-groves, pomegrante trees, rows of aubergines, tomatoes and even a few cows.

Good sago from the Mount Lavinia Hotel stall

Tip: The Sago at the Mt Lavinia hotel stall (Rs. 50 )was maybe the first not disappointing thing we tasted all week (its harder than it looks this YAMUing).

Note: While the fair was generally an excellent advertisement for what Sri Lanka can be, relaxed, peaceful, unpretentious and into books there did seem to be relatively few Tamil language books and book shops around. Did we miss something? or is this yet another thing this country needs to work out- almost 30% of Sri Lankans are Tamil speaking, and Colombo has a Tamil speaking plurality but 30% of the books didn’t seem to be in Tamil to me.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp




The Fusion Kottu at Eastern Wok

By Hiruni Herath Hot Butter Kottu - that’s not something you hear everyday but at

Highlights Kamu

More than Coffee – Kaffi Colombo

By Hiruni Herath Ambience and Service The Nordic Bakery and Coffee House located at Crescat

Highlights Kamu

7 Restaurants to dine in July 2022

By Shamrina Carim July hits a beautiful urge to try out different foods, events and

Highlights Kamu Yamu Guide

Hot Chook – all about that Chicken

By Hiruni Herath Service and Ambience The head chef at Hot Chook was very helpful

Highlights Kamu

A glistening night out at Colombo’s finest local bar!

By Shamrina Carim A Sri Lankan experiencing the magical inspiration of Sri Lanka in the


Ceylon Curry Club – Sri Lankan Cuisine With a Twist

By Janani Vithanage Ceylon Curry Club, located in the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, is a



From the Garden to your Skin 

By Menaka Indrakumar  Iris Garden is a brand which started five years ago, with Fuller’s


Bullet Train – movie review

Bullet train is as the name suggest is a fast-paced action movie. Directed by David


Stay healthy & refreshed With KiCO

By Janani Vithanage Boasting over 100 years of trusted excellence, the journey of Silvermill Group

Highlights Trending

5 Reasons why you need to check out Wild Culture Yala

If you are that Wildlife lover who loves being in the wild and looking to

Highlights Trending

Waves Bologoda

SINGHE's Wave Bolgoda, which launched in January 2021, The venue was initially established by lecturer


De Artemis Gallery & Pub

A brand-new restaurant with a Gallery & Pub concept is now being built in the


Yamu Guide.

8 Hotels That Offer Transport – 2022

Sometimes arranging for transport when you’re on vacation is the last thing that you want

Highlights Yamu Guide

7 Instagrammable restaurants to dine in August 2022

By Hiruni Herath We’re always looking for the perfect spot that is a mix of

Highlights Yamu Guide

5 Places to get Gift Hampers – 2022

By RR Gift hampers have been around for quite a bit but they’ve suddenly become

Highlights Yamu Guide

8 FAQ’s on fuel QR Code system

Sri Lanka introduced the Fuel Pass QR code system in full force from today (1st

Highlights Yamu Guide

7 Tips to Ensure Safe Cycling

Cycling on roads full of traffic due to petrol queues can be scary. Here are

Highlights Yamu Guide

6 Cycling Accessories You Need

By Janani Vithanage With the fuel crisis still wreaking havoc in everyone’s lives, a new

Highlights Yamu Guide