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Hook the book: A guide to bargain bookhunting (Part 1)

28 Dec

For many bookworms, reading is relaxing – but the search for cheap, high-quality books can be anything else but. This coming New Year, bibliophiles all over the metro (and the world!) will be wishing for more time and resources to indulge in their favorite pastime. Until then, here are some tips to glean more books for your buck:

  1. Have a mental list of books you want to own. However, don’t expect to find everything in one go, or even at all. The key – and the fun! – is in scouring the shelves thoroughly. The best bargains are often in the lowest shelves, so be ready to rough it if you’re in for a steal. You wouldn’t want to be in heels and a mini skirt when you balance on a stool or sit on the floor as you flip your way through piles of books. Book hunting wouldn’t be as rewarding if you miss out on the literary gems just waiting to be found.
  2. Keep an eye out for hole-in-the-wall booksellers. For instance, the UP Diliman campus alone houses various bargain book havens: Antas along AS Walk, the bookstall within Damitan ni Antonia fronting the Post Office, and the recently-opened Booksale at the Shopping Center (SC). The stall above Zagu, also in SC, sells classics and contemporary titles, magazines and DVDs, among others. Take an adventure in Cubao X and Bookay Ukay in Maginhawa St., and make sure to check out book stands in holiday bazaars.
  3. Frequent bookstores near your area 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 at that same time.
  4. 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 their latest stocks, events, or promos. Booksale, for instance, offers a 5% discount for single receipt purchases worth P1000, and 10% for those worth P2000 or higher.
  5. 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. When in doubt, observe the three R’s: reserve, research and reflect.  The standard two-day reservation gives you ample time to read reviews online (try shelfari.com), and evaluate whether the book(s) in your hands are really hard to find, or can be bought for less somewhere else. If, after scrutiny, you realize the book is worth your while and cash, return for it as soon as possible.
  6. Keep your finds close at all times. This is to prevent other buyers, however good their intentions may be, from eyeing your soon-to-be possessions. If you think you have too much on your hands, leave them at the counter until you’re ready to pay. Should your spirit be willing but your wallet weak, have your potential purchase reserved. Most bookstores allow reservations renewable every two days (duration negotiable if you’re a recognized suki).
  7. If you see a coveted book in the hands of another shopper, resist the urge to claw it out of their reach. 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 immediately. If he/she buys the book, respect that and do not, by all means, follow him/her around.
  8. Most bargain book stores have fixed prices, so haggling is usually out of the question.
  9. Not everything you can buy in a bookstore is of value, and you won’t value everything you buy. 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 the title(s) you really want.  Powerbooks recently held their first Power Barter, but such trading has since been practiced in the Philippines through networking sites like bookmooch.com.
  10. A book collection is a sight to behold, but books lose their purpose if they remain untouched. It’s natural to be attached to one’s collection – after all, it grows with and grows on you – but be open to sharing them with family and friends. Not everyone is a bookworm by birth, but the right book recommendation can plant a passion for reading on even the most reluctant reader. If you’re confident in your resources and skills for storage, consider investing on books and preserving your own for your future children.
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A New Year’s resolution in action

22 Dec

Yes, I know January 1 isn’t for ten more days, but the only way I can stick to this New Year’s resolution is if I start early. Have you ever perused your bookshelf and saw a book you no longer recall anything about? Or has a friend ever mentioned this title that you do remember reading, only to end up in the dusty recesses of memory? I have, and it’s something I set out to change this 2011.

Gone be the days of head-scratching upon mention of forgotten reads. And so I’ll scribble my musings in a book journal as I bite, gnaw and digest each literary goodie I sink my eyes into.

"Love, fate, and the number 6 train."

Today, I’m off to a great start with Maynard and Jennica by Rudolph Delson. The price tag on the book cover (this is my one complaint against Booksale. They defile their own merchandise by sometimes writing tally marks on the text blocks, and always sticking the price tag to the front panel. But I digress) reads 05-10-10, which means I must have bought it sometime last May. Lo and behold, I only started reading it on Monday night. It is now Wednesday afternoon and I find myself on page 164 of 300, finished with 3 of its 5 chapters.

Thus far, reading the book has been a blast! It’s not your run-of-the-mill narrative, but a smorgasbord of vignettes that spin together the lives and hearts of Maynard Gogarty and Jennica Green. There are at least 35 different narrators in the book, ranging from the couple to their friends and family, strangers, animals and “one EMERGENCY BRAKE on a certain no. 6 train.”

The titular characters are among the most eccentric I’ve encountered in fiction. But I love them not only because they’re outrageous, but especially because  I see slivers of them in the people I know, and vice versa. That, and the fact that that the story is set in New York (a place that’s quite a character in itself, I have come to understand), where I hope to find myself in the near future, if only for graduate studies.

Maynard is a multi-hyphenated, highfalutin nit-picker,  learned and cultured but socially awkward. Jennica is a California girl with big-city dreams and a penchant for drama, forever hesitant but easily excitable. When these two cross paths in the New York subway, one of them is turned off and they don’t fall in love, naturally. But because a) last time I checked, this is a love story and b) their names are joined in the title (and what could be a more obvious clue than that), they meet again under better circumstances, and fall in love. Naturally.

More than being a fluffy boy-meets-girl with cheese oozing from the edges (which, I must stress, it is not), the plot weaves the stories of two peculiar people through the watchful eyes, nosy ears and wagging tongues of those who watched them grow. More than halfway through the book, I know enough about Maynard and Jennica’s pasts to understand their present, and have informed guesses of where they’re headed in the future. But like any patchwork left unfinished, I won’t rest till this is left unread. And as the threads of Maynard and Jennica get more and more intertwined, the sucker for romance in me wishes that all does not unravel in the end.