Hook the book: Your guide to bargain book-hunting

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As far as bookworms are concerned, reading is a relaxing activity—but the search for cheap, high-quality books is hardly stress-free. The reader is willing, but the wallet is often weak. What to do? Hunt for bargain books!

Have a mental list of books you want to own. Just don’t expect to find everything in one go. The fun is in the spontaneity of each hunt. The best bargains are often in the lowest shelves, so be ready to rough it out if you’re looking for steals. You wouldn’t want to be in heels and a mini-skirt as you try to keep your balance on a stool, or sit on the floor as you flip your way through piles of books.

Keep an eye out for hole-in-the-wall booksellers. Most universities have book stalls on or around the campus. Hobbyists, organizations and publishing houses also frequent school fairs, bazaars and fora to sell educational, classic and contemporary titles, usually at discounted rates.

Visit bookstores near your area regularly and acquaint yourself with the sales staff. Be inquisitive, but not demanding. Ask the clerks when the expected “pullout” or delivery of new stocks will be, since the prices of old stocks are likely to decrease around the same time.

Unlike their high-end counterparts, bargain bookstores do not offer membership cards or privileges for regular customers. But this is where number 3 comes in handy. Once you have established yourself as a suki, you are more likely to get first dibs on the bookshop’s latest stocks, events or promos.

Booksale, for instance, offers a 5-percent discount for single-receipt purchases worth P1,000 and 10-percent for those worth P2,000 or higher.

Keep your belongings close, and keep your soon-to-be-purchased finds even closer. This should prevent other buyers, however good their intentions, from eyeing your finds. If you think you’ve got too many books in your hands, leave them at the counter until you’re ready to pay.

Found a Murakami book for P150 but not quite ready to pay just yet? No worries! Reserve it, leaving your name and contact details at the counter. Most bookstores let customers reserve books for up to two days, but even this is negotiable if you’re a recognized suki.

When in doubt, observe the three R’s: reserve, research and reflect. It’s very tempting to buy on impulse when everything seems so affordable. Sometimes, though, what we think is a good bargain is still not the best deal.

Before returning for your reserved book, read reviews online (shelfari.com and Amazon) and check whether the book(s) you’ve selected are really hard to find, or can be bought for less somewhere else. If, after all that scrutiny, you feel that the book is worth your while and cash, return for it as soon as possible.

If you see a coveted book in the hands of other shoppers, resist the urge to snatch it. Give them time and space to reach a decision, all the while keeping the book in your peripheral vision. If he/she leaves the store without it, pounce on it. If he/she buys the book, respect that and do not, by all means, follow him/her around.

Let the Internet be your alternative bookstore. Social networks and online shopping sites are your go-to bets for pre-loved books at all price ranges. Facebook pages of student organizations, particularly those in mass communication, literature and the arts, are worth checking out, as some of them hold online book sales and book auctions to raise funds.

If your collection is stuck in a rut, consider engaging in a book swap. This allows you to let go of one or more books in exchange for some that you really want, or are worth discovering.

There are a number of ways to trade titles: Organize one with friends, sharing books and stories during a sleepover. Sign up for local sites like bookmooch.com, which allows bookworms to meet up and swap titles. Join book-swap programs like Powerbooks’ Power Barter, or start one in your batch, organization or village.

Not everyone is a born bookworm, but the right book recommendation can create a passion for reading in even the most reluctant reader.

The karmic prerequisite to getting lucky in bargain book-hunting? Share a few books of your own! A book collection is a sight to behold, but books lose their purpose if they remain unread. While it’s natural for one to be attached to one’s collection—after all, it grows with you and grows on you—be open to sharing them with family, friends and, better yet, strangers.

Angel Britanico, 19, is a collector of music boxes and neon-colored stuffed animals. She is fond of movies with unhappy endings and books with spine (not just the tangible kind). Check out her blog at manilascoop.tumblr.com.

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