Andrew Yap, Big Bad Wolf co-founder said: We wanted to change the world one book at a time.
The Big Bad Wolf book fair toured Iloilo City for the first time with 2 million books at SM City Iloilo from October 13 to 22, 2023.
It was the iconic Jean-Michel Basquiat who drew us together into a conversation. Incidentally, we found each other wearing Basquiat merch during the first meeting with media and bloggers. I was in a gray T-shirt, and Andrew Yap, the co-founder of Big Bad Wolf, showed his sneakers with the artist’s famous signature.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American contemporary artist with Haitian immigrant parents. He became popular in the 1980s New York art scene through his graffiti-inspired paintings described as neo-expressionist style.
Andrew and I talked briefly about art and art books while I picked up a hardback copy of Street Art by Allessandra Mattanza as a token gift from Big Bad Wolf.
A passionate person about books and their power to change a nation, Andrew Yap shared that Big Bad Wolf was founded with a simple vision of changing Malaysia one book at a time through an initiative that will make books accessible and affordable, especially to young children.
It gave birth to Big Bad Wolf in 2009, and “we never imagined bringing Big Bad Wolf to the world stage, he said, yet after six years of successful runs around Malaysia, they realized that many countries likewise suffer from poverty because of low literacy and weak reading cultures, despite advances in modern education and the internet.
“We believe that accessibility and affordability of books are key factors that can help raise the literacy of people,” Andrew Yap expressed, and so Big Bad Wolf ventured to Indonesia in 2016, followed by Thailand and Sri Lanka in 2017, the Philippines and United Arab Emirates in 2018, then Myanmar, Pakistan, and Tanzania, among other countries.
The Big Bad Wolf team was happy to bring books to other nations. They have learned that there are still countries with children whose parents have to borrow money just to acquire books for their children to learn and become educated.
Since then, the Big Bad Wolf has been recognized as the biggest traveling book sale in the world, and it has visited 15 countries.
The Philippines is an interesting nation, said Andrew Yap, because it is an archipelago in Asia with the highest reading culture, yet it still confronts issues of accessibility and affordability of books, and this is where we want to be of service.
Filipinos treat books as a tool for improved literacy, and they believe that education is the key out of poverty. Hence, the Big Bad Wolf intends to imbibe the reading culture of both big and small cities across the archipelago.
This is the first time the Big Bad Wolf Tour has held a bookfair in Iloilo. According to Andrew Yap, “Iloilo is an attractive city because of its huge reading population and vibrant reading culture. It took us 5 years to come here, and we really like the atmosphere and the warmness of the Ilonggo people.”
Iloilo is the third venue for Big Bad Wolf. The first one was in Pasay, Manila, and then in Cebu City. It transported to SM City Iloilo around 2 million books from 200 publishers abroad, with the United Kingdom and the United States as major sources.
“Digitization is approaching its peak, and people are coming back to books,” especially children,” said Yap.
“The Big Bad Wolf is here to encourage the habit of reading and help develop a reading culture in both young and old. People around the world have a renewed realization of the power of books to transform society for the better, and that is our mission—to help change the world one book at a time,” said Andrew Yap.