Colombo International Book Fair: a reader’s treasure trove every September

Renowned for its great deals and availability of various genres, the annual Colombo International Book Fair is the everyday Lankan reader’s treasure trove every September.

Organised by the Sri Lanka Book Publishers Association, it took off this year on  21 September, 2018 following its inauguration by Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.

Despite the scorching hot Saturday afternoon, large crowds were amassed at Bandaranaike Memorial International Convention Hall where the stalls were spread out throughout the premises. Whilst having notable book publishers such as Master Guide Publications, the ideal place to obtain past papers for almost any subject, Sarasavi Publishers Pvt Ltd, Vijitha Yapa Publications and even Jeya Book Centre (Pvt) Ltd , the fair further housed an immense number of small scale publishers as well.

Most who attend the book fair do so for the simple reason of being able to purchase books whilst retaining the value for money. One individual attested,

“I usually try and come every year. I go to several stores in search of new arrivals for good deals and I think the book fair is ideal for this.”

She further added that the book fair provides a great opportunity for children to browse what’s available in the market today.

It’s worthy to note that the purchase of past papers and school books for the local curriculum happens to be the motif of a majority.

“It takes place once a year. We are able to purchase school books for our children, and also become aware of the curriculums for the next year,” stated one of its annual attendees.

Something that has to be mentioned is that most of the crowds scattered throughout the premises were indulging in food and not really interested in the books; this is probably because there were way too many food stalls.

There’s no conventional rule stipulating that the fair be merely open to those interested in reading; it does however raises concerns as to whether those who attend the event are true, enthusiastic readers.

One attendee noted,

“I come here every year. Unfortunately, one thing I notice is that people purchase food than books. It’s rare to find anyone actually reading a book.”


By Chenelle Fernando
Pics by Indika Handuwela