Open for 11 days from 18-28 October
By Bernadine Rodrigo
The world’s most affordable book sale is just around the corner, longing to grace Sri Lanka for the third consecutive year. Having been visited by over 200,000 people in 2018, it is expected that this year, the headcount would be far greater. Their discounts go as high as 90% from 50% onwards, and are open for 11 days from 18-28 October. Although in the past two years, Big Bad Wolf was open 24/7 every single day, this year, to the disappointment of those waiting to sneak in at 3 a.m. without a hoard of people trampling them to the floor, it will only be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. However, the weekends will see the resurrection of the liveliness during the haunting hours. As usual, it will be held at SLECC with over 1.5 million books to be browsed through. Entrance, of course, is free for all persons.
Big Bad Wolf Founder Jacqueline Ng appeared at a press conference prior to the real event and shared her story.
It all began in Malaysia when she and her husband bought a 500-square foot shop to sell books in with the usual 50-90% discount. Her mission, she believes, is to make books, which in countries with rapidly changing currencies are extremely expensive, freely available for those who can’t afford to buy them. This passion of hers comes from the experiences of her childhood, during which due to financial problems faced by her parents she was unable to ever read a proper book. She told the crowd the heartbreaking story of how she believed she was stupid because the other students in her school always knew more than she did. She grew up to find that their parents had been buying them books and taking them to libraries while she barely knew what a book was. Hence, she set out to help all children in her position so they would never feel that empty feeling.
She longs to spread the joy of these affordable books all around the world. Her hopes are to expand Big Bad Wolf to other continents such as Africa and South America. However, she says that it is an extremely large dream, even for her.
The difficulty in this task, as explained by ProRead Sri Lanka (Pvt.) Ltd. Director Nishan Wasalathanthri, comes from having to carry the massive load of books all around the world and finding locations big enough to fit them all in. Right now in Sri Lanka, SLEEC is only as big as 25% of the other exhibition halls such as those in Malaysia or Indonesia. They also need to find a partner in every country as they have in Sri Lanka with Dipak Madhavan and Nishan Wasalathanthri and this is especially difficult in countries where reading is not quite as prevalent as it is in Sri Lanka and also lack the funding to support an event of this sort.
Further, with their delight in Sri Lankan readers, the partners of Big Bad Wolf have deeply considered trying to take the exhibition to cities out of Colombo. However, the same problems that arise when taking the load of books around the world rise when trying to do so within the country. Nevertheless, they are hopeful and are trying their best to take at least mini-versions of Big Bad Wolf outside the main city in years to come.
Whatever their plans may be for the future, this year, they are conducting it as planned, exciting perhaps the entire nation with their 11-day stay. This year’s focus is on children’s books, following Jacqueline’s wish. As presented by Dipak Madhavan, a main highlight amongst the books available this time is a type of children’s books known as augmented reality books which contain stories and preschool learning material coupled with revolutionary technology that allow children to read, sing, and learn at the same time. This, as Jacqueline says, would help prompt those children who simply refuse to read into beginning the process.
Although the priority is given to children, people of all ages can most certainly find what they are looking for and get lost once again in the beautiful world that is a book.
Photos Eshan Dasanayake