- The Colombo International Book Fair begins tomorrow
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
The Colombo International Book Fair is organised by the Sri Lanka Book Publishers’ Association, and will be held from 16 September to 25 September this year at the BMICH. Every year, large crowds make their way to BMICH in search of the latest novels, award-winning publications, and stationery. Various literary events and discussions also take place alongside the book sale, which makes September, which is Literacy Month, a true celebration of the written word.
Visiting the book fair is one thing, but purchasing novels, especially in the usual quantities we see in book fair haul posts on social media, is another matter altogether this year. The price of novels, regardless of language, has increased, while people’s purchasing power has decreased. Despite many looking forward to CIBF, as well as Literacy Month, due to the discounts offered by book stores, this year paints a different picture.
The Morning Brunch reached out to a few literary enthusiasts to get a better understanding of how readers feel about the book fair this year.
When asked if she reads as much as she used to, Mihiri said she has noticed that she now struggles to get through books.
“I actually get my books from a library. I still borrow, but less than I used to and I’ve returned books without finishing them, too – something I never used to do.”
Mihiri said she didn’t think she would go for the CIBF this year, when we spoke to her ten days before the CIBF opened.
“I’m trying to stay within a budget and I’m not very good at resisting temptation, so the book fair doesn’t seem like the best idea, though it also occurred to me that it might be a good place to get stationery, especially paper bundles.”
She added: “I suspect I will probably go.”
This is something many of us can relate to. As much as we know we can’t afford to buy books, especially in large quantities, we still don’t want to miss out on the book fair, which has almost become a tradition in Sri Lanka.
Yaz shared similar views, saying she used to save up for the annual book sale, but today, she finds that she can’t justify spending at the book fair, given the current prices.
“A friend and I thought of making our annual book sale pilgrimage for old times’ sake, this time only to window-shop and catch up,” Yaz said.
Meanwhile, Manaal shared that she may visit the second-hand stalls to see if she can buy her daughter’s textbooks, noting: “The UK curriculum middle-school textbooks are over Rs. 10,000 now, so we can’t even think about buying anything brand new.”
While people seem on the fence about buying novels this year, it must be said that a reader’s willpower is usually weakened when surrounded by books, so in the coming days, we will see if people are still willing and able to spend a significant amount on books, or if the days of massive book fair hauls have been put on hold.