The countdown has begun to the annual Colombo International Book Fair (CIBF), Sri Lanka’s best-patronised public exhibition, which opens at the BMICH on September 19.
In its 11th year, the fair will run for nine days encompassing two weekends, and will be open to the public for twelve hours each day, organisers said.
Nearly half a million book lovers are expected to flock to this year’s exhibition, at which local booksellers and publishers have taken 360 stalls and 40 stalls have been allocated to foreign publishers.
"Every bit of available space will be utilised in a well laid out stall plan to better accommodate the large crowds expected this year," said Upali Wanigasuriya, Secretary General of CIBF 2009. "We have incorporated what we learned from previous exhibitions to facilitate visitor flow around the stalls and make browsing and buying easier."
The 400 stalls will be located in ten sections, two of them at the Sirimavo Bandaranaike Exhibition Centre, four in the outdoor exhibition area in front of the centre, and four in the lobby areas of the main hall of the BMICH, he said.
Fifteen leading book publishers and booksellers have formally signed contracts to sponsor the CIBF 2009, with M D Gunasena taking on the mantle of Principal Sponsor. Malpiyali, Rathna Publishers and Wasana Publications took Platinum sponsorship, Buddhist Cultural Centre, Jeya Book Centre and Pitraban took Gold sponsorship, Godage Book Emporium, Makeen Books, Samayawardhana Bookshop and Sarasavi took Silver sponsorship and Ariya Publishers, Nalaka, Fast Publishing (Pvt) Ltd and Vijitha Yapa Bookshop took Bronze sponsorship. Sampath Bank will be the Official Bank for CIBF and Rupavahini will be the Electronic Media Sponsor.
Organised by the Sri Lanka Book Publishers’ Association with the BMICH as co-organiser and with the support of the Booksellers and Importers Association of Ceylon and the Samastha Lanka Poth Velenda Sangamaya, the Colombo International Book Fair 2009 will be a showcase for book publishers, booksellers, author-publishers, sellers of educational aids and material and providers of IT services. It has attracted direct participation by exhibitors from the UK, USA, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Pakistan and Germany.
Adding to the visitor experience this year will be a series of open air cultural shows themed ‘Naadathala,’ dramas, poetry readings, theatre and music fetes that will create the ambience of a festival dedicated to reading and the arts.
The Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha will officiate as Chief Guest at the opening of the Fair On September 19th.
A highlight of the opening ceremony will be the presentation of cash awards and books to the best performers at the Year 5 scholarship, G.C. E. Ordinary Level and G.C.E. Advance Level examinations of 2008.
As in previous years, the organizers have arranged free shuttle bus services, ample covered outdoor seating, refreshment outlets, free drinking water, banking services including a mobile ATM, printed stall plans for the benefit of visitors.