Big Bad Wolf Hacks

This can be considered a partial guide to Big Bad Wolf Indonesia, currently running until 11pm Sunday Jakarta time. Apologies that this post is going up Saturday morning, scant more than 24 hours until the event closes – I went to the Big Bad Wolf very late Thursday, stayed overnight at a friend’s house, and am only now functional enough to write.

What is the Big Bad Wolf? It’s an enormous book sale, enormous in book volume and in price slashes. It was introduced first in Malaysia in 2009 and this marks the first time the Big Bad Wolf is adapted to Indonesia. 40 containers full of 1.5 million books are provided, most of them English publications and of all genres.

Of course I was going, despite the event being held at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE), BSD City – some distance from my house. Luckily, I have a good friend who lives in BSD so I stayed over. We had a fun sleepover and braved Big Bad Wolf together.

Some tips and tricks I’ve figured out are below:

  1. This is the most important rule: Don’t make preconceived lists, do come to the Big Bad Wolf with an open mind.

I read from another blog post that because there’s an ocean of books, it’s best to write down a list of books you want and search for them at the event. With all due respect, I disagree.

I had my heart set on getting Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland series and grew frustrated because I couldn’t find any of the books. After thirty minutes of vexation, I took a deep breath and changed my strategy – which is, just look for books that look interesting to me. Irritation was soon replaced with deep, deep joy. So please, just come to browse. You will find books you want. There’s an ocean here, after all.

Literally an ocean

You thought I was joking, huh?

  1. Parking is a headache and shalt always be a headache. Accept it. Alternatively, use taxis. Big Bad Wolf is held in Hall 10 and there were a constant stream of taxis at the entrance, even post-midnight.
  1. The general rule is to go either very early or very late. I think the advice is worthless this late in the game. Big Bad Wolf will always be crowded.

If you are staying at BSD City for more than a couple of hours and you have pals or connections going to Big Bad Wolf the same day as you, use them! Scout the best time to go! Ask them how the crowds and the situation look when your acquaintances are there.

I was lucky to be part of a storytelling group on WhatsApp and two different people went the same day I did. The first gave up because the crowd was overwhelming, but the second only waited twenty minutes. So my friend and I decided to go to Big Bad Wolf an hour after I got the message from the second connection.

  1. Worry not about the layout of books at the Big Bad Wolf. Everything is very straightforward and easy to understand.
  1. The Big Bad Wolf volunteers are your best friends. Seriously. They are exceedingly efficient and helpful. Do utilize them.

My friend showed some volunteers a baking book she wanted and the volunteers said, “Oh, we have loads of those here.” They actually went and searched and found it for her. Meanwhile, I showed a volunteer the books in the Fairyland series and they recognized the novels immediately, saying “Oh, I know them! We put them out a couple of days ago. We put them in the Young Adult section but we may have run out of stock by now.” These people really know their stuff!

Please be kind to them by not messing up the books!

  1. Children’s books dominate the selection at Big Bad Wolf. From Activity Books, picture books, middle-grade, to YA, the choices are vast. However, I’m not sure bringing your children here is a good idea. There’s an ocean of crowds to match the ocean of books and little kids wander. If you have well-behaved children, good. Best to leave them at home and pick the books for them, though.

Someone lost her little boy at Big Bad Wolf when I was there. I hope she found him, she was understandably and truly distraught.

  1. Bring a backpack. renslittlecorner suggested a wheeled suitcase and I agree, especially if you parked far away and will buy dozens of books.
  1. I bought strictly cash and ID to the exhibition. There’s been no complaints of lost items that I know of, but better safe than sorry. By the way, debit BCA cards are unusable here. Bank Mandiri is one of Big Bad Wolf’s sponsors.


Whew! Those are my tips and I hope they will be useful to someone out there at least. My Big Bad Wolf haul of shame will be uploaded in a separate post.

Be aware, be careful, but do have fun if you’re going!

Edited same day to fix a factual error. There are 1.5 million books sold at this event rather than 3.5 million.

3 thoughts on “Big Bad Wolf Hacks

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