While e-book sales are outstripping their non-digital counterparts, the 84,000 books traded in Book Exchange 2012on April 28 show that the physical touch of a book hasn’t lost its appeal in Singapore.

Running for the fourth year, the annual swap meethas been organised by the National Library Board (NLB) to encourage more people to read. Held in conjunction with the World Book and Copyright Day, the event received an overwhelming response with more than 47 percent increase in the number of books exchanged as compared to 2009.

“The number of people participating and books exchanged has grown steadily over the years and today, people came as early as 6 am to queue up. This is definitely a testament that people still read,” said Shirley Lim, 29, the project manager of Book Exchange 2012.

Anyone could bring their old books that were still in good condition to the public libraries from April 13 to 27 for coupons. If they missed these dates, they could also drop off their books at the main event, Book Exchange 2012 held at the National Library Building from 8:30 am to 6 pm. All of the traded books would then be placed at level one, The Plaza of the National Library Building for Book Exchange 2012 to find their new owners. For every coupon they had, the participants could take home a book of their choice during the Book Exchange 2012.

NLB also allowed each participant to trade in a maximum of 50 books for other ones. The only stipulation was that books had to be in any of the 4 official languages (English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil), and fall in the categories of adults, children’s fiction, or non-fiction books to be accepted.

Before 8:30 am, about 600 people were already queuing and looking pumped up to grab their favourite books.  All of them brought along backpacks, recycled bags, trolleys and even huge suitcases, as the National Library Board encouraged them to recycle as well.

Local celebrity Edmund Chen autographs books for the public

National Library Board’s first reading ambassador for Book Exchange 2012, local celebrity Edmund Chen  also came down early to interact with the crowd and take photographs with them. After catching a glimpse of the veteran actor, families gathered around in hope to get a picture beside him. Otherwise known as a children’s author, he gave away his book “Dino Rulez” to the first 50 participants and held an autograph session at 9:30 am.

“By reading more, you get to expose yourself,” Edmund Chen tells UrbanWire. “You get more information and knowledge and you probably get to de-stress in the midst.”

A fan of Jodi Picoult’s books and third-time participant, Dennis Chan, 14, from St. Gabriel’s Secondary School, brought some of his favourite author’s books in hope to find others penned by her. “I will try to bring a book out wherever I go. I won’t use my phone to read. I rather save my handphone’s battery for communication,” he shared. Along with Dennis’s family members, the 14-year-old traded in at least 80 books this year as he enjoys reading a good book at his own pace.

Keep a look out for National Library Board’s Book Exchange next April and go grab some books!