The Colombo International Book Fair kicked off today, with literally hundreds of people melting out in a long-winded queue on an extremely sunny weekday morning. News has it that there's a 156 local and 36 foreign exhibitors out there this year. Our event page gives you more details, but we're going to give you a how-the-first-day-went write-up over here as well.
It was supposed to open up to the public at nine, but there seems to have been a glitch in the organization because it was way past ten before they admitted people inside. After this minor hiccup, we were in. The crowds (inside) weren't as bad as I initially thought they would be, but it was surprisingly full for a work and school morning.
The set-up was pretty much the same as it's been over the last two years, and barely anything has changed. The majority of English bookstalls (Vijitha Yapa, Makeen's, Jeya) were housed in Hall A, while most of the Sinhala publications were in the adjacent Hall B at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Exhibition Centre. Sarasavi had a couple of huge stalls of their own, which you can't really miss.
The treasure trove of course are the bargain bookstores, and that's at Hall P (if you're standing with your back to the Sirimavo hall, walk right and then take a right turn again. It's opposite Hall K). You'd get some good deals here, and we saw tons of obscure mysteries, romances, crimes and thrillers here. Most of what they had were magazines though, so if you're into Reader's Digest, you'd want to check this out.
However, if you're looking for a vast array of new books (and by that, I mean something else other than what you'd seen last year) you could very well be disappointed as yours truly was. I found the selection to be a bit crippling, and there wasn't many to choose from — Fifty Shades of Grey was still given prominence (really? REALLY?) in some stores — and there were a ton of Coehlos, Wodehouse, GRRMs, Mills and Boon, Picoults, and well, you get the idea.
On the other hand, if you're a younger reader you're going to love this coz there seems to be a ton of novels for you guys. Add to that, I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but dang, there are some really cool covers out there.
While you're at it, drop into the Without Border's stall. This volunteering organization has an interesting initiative — they're crowd-writing a book, which will then be auctioned off, the proceeds which will go to funding a child. If you want to know more about this, read up on Pen a Life, and help out by literally writing out the story of a child you could help.
So there you have it folks, the #CIBF2015. As always, you get a 20% discount in almost all the stores (if not all), and if you're a student or an undergraduate (or from the media) you get in free. Tickets are priced at twenty bucks, and you can hang around from 9.00 am to 9.00 pm.