May 10, 2022

As one of the world’s largest travelling circuses of book fairs gets underway in Dubai, co-founder of the Big Bad Wolf (BBW) tells Al Arabiya English how the heavily discounted books are able to make their way around the globe for readers who cannot afford to pay retail.

Andrew Yap pointed at “affordable and accessible” books as the solution to a growing gap in education and knowledge among the youth between different classes of society.

“Kids are hungry. The faster we can educate the world, the faster we can solve this problem,” an optimistic Yap said in the interview.

Having started in 2009 with a mission to provide English-language reading material to children without the means to acquire books, the operation has since grown into a trans-global affair that attracts thousands of readers.

The journey hasn’t been without challenges.

In December last year, the primary warehouse that held millions of BBW’s books was submerged in floods after severe rains battered Malaysia.

At least 4.5 million books were lost to direct flood damage or mold from the adverse conditions, in addition to damage to the building and equipment.

“We were preparing for Dubai, we were preparing for so many events since the pandemic was becoming an endemic and opening up,” said a downhearted Yap as he recollected the flood damage that nearly put the mission permanently out of operation.

For the 2022 edition, Yap said he was equal parts nervous and excited. The event has been widely shared and eagerly awaited by many Dubai residents as evidenced by the strong interaction on the company’s social media platforms.

The event opened with an exclusive preview late Wednesday. The expansive space was throbbing with the sounds of rapidly flipped pages and excited murmur from attendees who felt the crushing weight of the large venue’s offerings.

The 11-day-long event is reportedly displaying over one million books and offering discounts between 50 to 80 percent.

In 2019, BBW reported a 50 percent sell-through rate, while this year, they are expecting up to 80 percent.

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