A guide to Big Bad Wolf Books

This time of year, I look forward to one thing, and it's not Valentine's. The Big Bad Wolf is coming to town!

Little Moon at BBW in 2018

What is BBW?

The Big Bad Wolf Books (BBW) is a 10-day event that tours Asia, and has finally started bringing millions of discounted books to Philippine shores. A large number of these books come from publishers that are not available in local bookstores. The sheer variety of choices makes this event one of a kind. What excites me even more are the price points - you get brand new books at thrift shop, second-hand prices. Another perk for a vampire like me? It is open 24 hours! And entrance is free.

BBW started coming to Manila in 2018. So for the past 2 years in a row, my Little Moon and I have been going to World Trade Center (BBW's home in Manila) with our trolley bag in tow. We usually go three or four times throughout the duration of the 10-day fair. We camp out for more than 12 hours at a time, browsing through titles, adding to and editing our shopping carts, in a futile attempt to stay within budget.

So here is a guide to Big Bad Wolf Books Manila, from a self-proclaimed veteran who has about 100 hours of BBW shopping time under her belt. Haha.

1. Prepare a wish list.

It can get pretty overwhelming. There are hundreds of books you'd want to take home, from the thousands of titles available. If you're a mom, you'd go broke just by going through the Children's section. What I do is prepare a wish list early on, by browsing through the website of Book Excess (the "proud parents of Big Bad Wolf Books"). I take a screenshot of the books I like there, print it out, and bring it with me to BBW. This way, there's a tiny chance I stick to my budget. Haha. Last year, I purposefully skipped the cookbook section so I wouldn't get tempted. In 2018, I didn't take a peek at the Fiction aisles. It's a struggle. LOL. I always end up going over budget.

Another good thing about having this wish list on hand: I don't miss out on the stuff I really want to purchase. The venue is huge, and you're bound to not see some of the display. I sometimes show the print out to the staff and ask if they have it available. Please note that not everything on the website is at the event, and vice versa.

2. Go early on the first day.

The books are well-organized and the display is not so chaotic on Day 1. The BBW staff do try to keep things neat and tidy every so often, but with the influx of people browsing (and not putting things back  where they belong!), things can get pretty messy. It's hard to find the book you are looking for when the display is already topsy turvy. So if you're someone who gets overwhelmed when the stocks are not organized, I suggest go early on the first day.

3. Expect heavy traffic.

Especially this year since Day 1 just happens to be Valentine's Day, which falls on Payday Friday. My goodness. Can you imagine the carmageddon? Best to go super early on Friday while people are still at work! Or have someone drop you off. I'm not so sure you can get a Grab car on a Valentine's-Pay-Day-Friday! Plan accordingly.

4. Go multiple days.

BBW has tons of books in storage, and they do not put everything on display on Day 1. So every once in a while, they bring out boxes of new titles. If you have the time, I suggest going back once or twice throughout the duration of the event. There's no schedule when they bring out new releases. So I go back multiple times in the 10 days they are here.

Boxes of books behind World Trade Center, yet to be displayed.

5. Is there a best time to go?

If I had written this guide last year, I would've said to go in the wee hours of the morning. But I would have been so wrong! Last year, I went at around 2 in the morning, and ended up waiting in line until 6am. They had a problem with their cashiers at that time, so the line was creeping like a snail, through the payment hall all the way around the main event halls. There really is no guarantee you'll avoid long lines when you go at odd hours. That might have worked in 2018, but it wasn't the case last year!

The payment tent - the cashiers have a hall of their own adjacent to the main event hall. This was the epic line one Friday last year.

6. Wear comfy shoes.

Anything can happen, so prepare like you're going on a really long hike. Haha. Wear rubber shoes and leave the stilletos at home. Trust me. I wore my super comfy huaraches, but my toes died.

7. Bring a trolley bag or luggage if you can.

There was a time when shopping carts were hard to come by, and you had to wait in line for one. So if you want to be able to go around the venue right away, bring your own rolling bag. This is also an eco-friendly way to avoid unnecessary plastic bags! On this note...

8. Bring your own eco bag.

BBW used plastic to bag purchases the past 2 years. I hope they use paper bags this year. But all the same, please bring your own bags for your purchases! BYOB!

9. Please be nice to the staff.

Please don't expect the staff to be able to answer your questions, they may not all be bookworms like you. Last year, BBW partnered with Gawad Kalinga and hired people from GK villages to man their event. They all come from different backgrounds. Please be kind. And please return books where you got them, so the staff don't have a harder time maintaining the order of things.

10. Don't open the books that are sealed.

There are samples provided for you to browse through. Please wait for your turn if you see someone already checking the sample. And please remember to return it where it belongs. Don't go around the hall with it! Also, sometimes, people forget and put the sample in their shopping cart, instead of getting one of the sealed books, haha.

Here are some more information about the event:

When and where is BBW?

For it's third year, BBW Manila will be on Feb. 14 to 24, 2020 at World Trade Center in Pasay. It is open starting 9am on the first day, operating for 24 hours every day until 12mn of Feb. 24. There's a VIP Day on Feb. 13, and only guests with VIP passes get to go to this preview. VIP passes are usually given away through contests on the BBW social media accounts. Entrance is free.

What's the perk of going to VIP Day?

You get first dibs on everything. And as mentioned in Tip #1, the display is still well-organized on the first day. VIP Day is Day 0, IMHO. But I've never been lucky enough to get tickets for VIP Day, huhu!

Is there parking?

Yes, there's parking at World Trade Center. However, there were some days when parking was full, so we had to park along Macapagal, and had to walk far. (But we got to eat seafood paluto, yum! hehe) Best if someone can drop you off or pick you up. Getting a Grab car was pretty much impossible for me, no matter what day I went.

How is the restroom?

There are two restrooms inside the halls, and one outside. Relatively clean.

Is there a baggage counter?

You can leave unpurchased books at the baggage counter inside the hall. However, one time it was really full, so we weren't allowed to leave books. (This was the day mentioned above when I had to line up at the cashier until 6am!) There is another baggage check outside the hall, for when you've already paid for your purchases and want to go back inside or eat at the food bazaar.

Are there restaurants in the area?

Not sure if this year is going to be like the last, but the food was pretty awesome at the food bazaar adjacent to the book sale last year! There was lechon stall, and a mango graham stall. Aaargh, my mouth waters just at the memory of it. There was also dimsum and lugaw. Lots of other stalls that I didn't get to try. I had a blast food tripping after a long day going around looking for books. Oh and there was The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf pop up last year. I hope they come back this year.

Some of our loot from Big Bad Wolf Manila in 2019

That's all for now. In my next post, I'll show you some of our best buys from last year. Will update this post when there's new info. See you at Big Bad Wolf!


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