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'Filipinos have a reading culture': 'Big Bad Wolf' founders share top book picks, bestsellers |

Arts and Culture

'Filipinos have a reading culture': 'Big Bad Wolf' founders share top book picks, bestsellers

Kathleen A. Llemit -
'Filipinos have a reading culture': 'Big Bad Wolf' founders share top book picks, bestsellers
From left: Big Bad Wolf Books co-founders Jacqueline Ng and Andrew Yap; Parents, educators and students can now conveniently browse and shop Rex Education’s huge lineup of learning solutions in print or digital format.
Photo release

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos may not be able to scour rows and rows of books at the expansive halls of the World Trade Center like in the previous editions of Big Bad Wolf Books (BBW), but Wolfies still kept their shared passion for reading alive with their overwhelming patronage of the yearly book fair. It's still successful that it was even extended. 

Andrew Yap and Jacqueline Ng organized the first Big Bad Wolf Books warehouse sale in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2009 and since has expanded to neighboring countries like the Philippines.

With the aim to spread the love of reading globally, the Big Bad Wolf Books co-founders shared their book picks from this year's online sale.

"Can you imagine two hours before the sale, we already have 10,000 people at one time?" recalled Jacqueline Ng, BBW co-founder.

The Big Bad Wolf Books Online Sale was initially scheduled from June 30 to July 7. The eager reception from Filipino readers and Wolfies, the endearing term used for BBW regulars, pushed for an extension.

Ng and her co-founder Andrew Yap sat with in an exclusive interview that had them share their dreams for their brainchild, their must-read titles and some good news from the Philippines.

"It is a fantastic market. It's just not that but because you guys have the reading culture and you have been reading. When you're going to the market, you know what you're going to read because you have been reading. Whereas a lot of our other markets, we even need to promote reading as a culture first," Ng explained.

BBW tours in cities in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. It started as a warehouse sale in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2009.

They are replenishing some of the over 60,000 titles available and on sale on their website ( Ng said they have opened their warehouse that stores 20 million books. In their previous edition, they only brought in around 20,000 titles and 2.5 million books due to logistical concerns.

Yap commended how Filipinos are deep readers, a trait that makes the Philippines a good market for book fairs.  

"The Philippines has probably the most matured readership. You should be very proud of that. The type of books that Filipinos read are akin to Western countries like the United Kingdom and the United States," Yap observed.

They noted the Filipinos' have equal interest, about 1/3 each, in fiction, non-fiction and children's books.

With flash sales and discounted prices at 99%, this year's BBW online edition attracted every bibliophile in the country, even as down south as Dinagat Islands.

Ng and Yap shared that they've had orders from places they did not expect, including the island northeast of Mindanao.  

It's these surprises that excite Ng and Yap. It showed them a positive of the online sale where people need only to click on a button and successfully purchase their books.

If the situation will be better by next year where health safety and concerns will not be major threats and issues, Ng and Yap look at organizing a hybrid Big Bad Wolf that marries well their beloved physical fair and the online sale.

As first and foremost a global reading advocacy program, Yap shared that they hope to work with the Philippine government in their cause.

"We really want for the Philippine market, especially since it is a big market, we want to work with the government to bring millions of classics, for every students to have the whole set of classics and they can buy USD 60, 30 cents each. That is what we're planning to do," Yap shared.  

He asserted that the classics will never fade as they're well-written and most are the standard for good storytelling.

Ng and Yap also gave their top book picks. Apart from sharing their picks, they also shared the best-selling books of all time and the current top selling books at this year's BBW edition.

Related: Over 60K book titles off for grabs at first-ever online Big Bad Wolf book sale

Top 5 best-selling books of all time at BBW:

1. "Little Hippo"

2. Rick Riordan titles

3. "The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations" by Oprah Winfrey

4. "Rich Dad Poor Dad"  by Robert Kiyosaki

5. "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey

Top 5 recommendations by BBW co-founders:

1. "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and "For One More Day" by Mitch Albom

2. "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be" by Paul Arden

3. "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell

4. "The Curious Incident Of The Dog in the Night" by Mark Haddon

 5. "The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations" by Oprah Winfrey

Top 10 best-selling books at 2021 BBW:

1. "The Atlas of Fairy Tales" by Claudia Bordin (P350)
Category: Picture and reading book for kids
This collection of incredible adventures of all your favorite fairy tales and children's classics is told through a series of stunning illustrations that young readers will definitely enjoy.

2. "Superheroes Without Capes" by Isabella Grott (P350)
Category: Picture reference book for kids
This picture book features the stories of 20 men and women who use their skills and talents to make the world a better place – because not all superheroes wear capes.

3. "Junior Dictionary & Thesaurus" by Cindy Leaney (P390)
Category: Reference book
Every page of this dictionary and thesaurus for young readers is packed with colorful illustrations and pictures to help them improve their spelling, expand their vocabulary, and polish their grammar skills!

4. "Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan (P230)
Category: Asian Literature, Romance
This acclaimed 2013 New York Times bestseller follows the story of Rachel Chu, as she spends the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend Nicholas Young and his family. "Crazy Rich Asians" is the first novel in a series from Kevin Kwan.

5. "A Wrinkle In Time" by Madeleine L'Engle (P230)
Category: Young Adult Fiction
This special, movie tie-in edition of the upcoming major motion picture features the complete, unabridged original text of the 1962 novel. Winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, "A Wrinkle in Time" is the first book in Madeleine L'Engle's classic "Time Quintet".

6. "Trickery" by Roald Dahl (P190)
Category: Contemporary Fiction
In this collection of short stories, Roald Dahl takes readers on a journey into ten different stories that reveal the dark, twisted deceptions that humans are capable of.

7. "Keep It Simple" by Joe Calloway (P190)
Category: Business and self-help
With over 30 years of experience as a consultant and coach to high performing companies and individuals, Joe Calloway is an expert in how to focus and simplify. By getting clear on what really matters most, you can streamline your life, reduce stress, and achieve the personal and business results you desire.

8. "Success Affirmations: 52 Weeks For Living A Passionate And Purposeful Life" by Jack Canfield (P230)
Category: Business and self-help
Jack Canfield is a master motivator, world-renowned teacher, and best-selling author of "The Success Principles." In his latest book, "Success Affirmations", he helps readers break through to new levels of passion, purpose, and prosperity with 52 affirmations and proven wisdom.

9. "Unlimited Power" by Anthony Robbins (P230)
Category: Business and self-help
Unlimited Power from Anthony Robbins is a revolutionary fitness book for the mind. It is the ultimate guide to peak performance in the age of success and shows how you can achieve an extraordinary life.

10. "The Courage To Be Happy: True Contentment Is Within Your Power" by Ichiro Kishimi  (P230)
Category: Business and self-help
In "The Courage To Be Happy", Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga once again share their wisdom into simple yet profound advice to show on how to find true happiness.

Print books or e-books? 

The new normal of education is changing so many facets of how students learn and experience school. 

For the longest time, textbooks have always been a non-negotiable learning material for students from basic education to graduate school. When the pandemic forced many schools to adapt an online distance learning setup, institutions began to review the need for printed books, and the alternative opportunities presented by digital books or e-books. 

In response to the need to make more alternatives available for more students, Rex Education expanded their offerings of printed textbooks with e-book versions and various digital complimentary learning and assessment materials. The goal is not to replace printed books, but to create more options suitable for the varying needs and circumstances of the Filipino Whole Learners that they serve.

The dawn of e-books, effects on learning

The students now are digital natives; they breath and live the internet and the digital age. That makes using e-books more natural and familiar to them.

The biggest strength of e-books lie in its portability. An unlimited number of e-books can be stored in one device, and can be carried around and read whenever, wherever. The ease of transport and availability of e-books became very significant especially during the pandemic school year. But while e-books came with many strengths in an online digital learning setup, they also came with limitations and weaknesses. 

Nowadays, when children are stuck at home, they are exposed to an unhealthy amount of screen time. Rex Education, a leading provider of learning solutions in the Philippines, recommends that the amount of screen time for elementary students aged 6-12 should only be up to 1.5 hours a day. For secondary school students aged 13-17, the recommended screen time should not be more than two hours per day. That recommended number is easily surpassed when classes are held online and assignments require online research, and the learning materials they have access to are digital as well. The additional exposure to screen time definitely increases the students’ susceptibility to screen fatigue, which may lead to blurred vision, redness, dryness and irritation.

People who read e-books tend to get sidetracked more easily, as well. Digital readers tend to spend more time scanning for keywords than actually processing what they’re reading. It’s easy to get distracted by links and get sucked into an internet rabbit hole of irrelevant—and sometimes, dangerous—content on the web. 

Value of printed textbooks in the digital age

Print books have been around for decades for a reason: they are less strenuous on the eyes and provide a more tangible experience for the reader. And when it comes to the retention ability and learning experience between e-books and printed books, printed books have been found to reign supreme.

According to a study that was presented in Italy, readers of print books were found to absorb and remember more of the material that they were reading compared to e-book readers. Books also give the students the ability to write notes and highlight important information, helping them absorb and understand the subject material better. 

Students who have books at home are also more likely to score higher on tests, according to a study of readers from 42 countries. 

Compared to e-books, printed books present not distraction, but imagination. Books provide gateways to unlocking the capabilities of the brain, encouraging the learner to put the things they learn together, therefore enabling better learning retention.

The new normal in learning materials

To balance the strengths and weaknesses of both printed and digital books, Rex Education has made it its responsibility to offer as many options as it can to match the varying needs of the students—both printed and digital.

“As schools implement different models of distance learning, it is important for us to be more inclusive and flexible in providing access to quality and relevant learning materials. Since schools may be serving students with different setups at home or even from different locations, providing the option of both digital and printed books makes it easier for students to choose which learning material suits their needs,” said Don Timothy Buhain, chief executive officer of Rex Education. “We believe that quality education should be accessible to every Filipino Whole Learner—and that is what we always strive to achieve in every printed and digital book that we create.”

To date, Rex Education ( has made available a wide suite of printed books and e-books on its digital bookstore to make quality education more accessible to all. 

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