Tip #1: Save your money now and don't splurge. Or at least budget it.
Of course since August is essentially book fair month, it's also the time when a lot of bookstores go on sale. So even if you're not going to the book fair, you can still find books being sold at a discount. As of today, Powerbooks and Books for Less are currently on sale. My prediction is that by the end of the week or next week at the latest, National Bookstore will similarly go on sale. Last year, Booktopia held their anniversary sale in August so it's also likely that they'll be declaring a sale later in the month. Fully Booked just launched their flagship store in Serendra so it's a wait-and-see whether they'll similarly go on sale or even participate in the book fair.
Tip #2: Even if you don't go to the book fair doesn't mean you can't enjoy its benefits: the bookstores are most likely going to declare their sales this month.
Now let's go to the book fair proper itself. Unlike five years ago, the book fair is now being held at the World Trade Center in Manila. I don't know about you but for me, its previous venue, the Megatrade Hall in Mega Mall, was more accessible. Because it's far off for most people (unless you happen to live in the vicinity), most likely you'll be planning your visits. But the question you're asking is why should you go there in the first place. Here's a couple of reasons that might interest you:
- Books are sold at a discount. (And many mainstream bookstores are participating such as National Bookstore, Goodwill Bookstore, and A Different Bookstore, at least based on last year's book fair. Whether the likes of Aeon Books or Booktopia will join remains to be seen.)
- Many university presses will be present. A lot of our local books are published by university presses and instead of traveling all the way to U.P. to grab a hold of Luis Katigbak's The King of Nothing to Do and then head to Ateneo to grab a copy of Dean Alfar's Salamanca, you can do all of that in one place. And probably get them at a discount too. (If you're lucky, have the author sign them as well...)
- There'll be various events held during the week and I can't really say what they'll be as they vary from year to year. There could be a book signing by an author, a talk on a specific subject, and even an activity for kids. (Right now there's Unlocking the Literature of the Fantastic and Childrens, Teens and Reading in the Time of IT.) The one thing that's certain however is that during that week, the National Book Awards will take place in the book fair.
- Get back issues of magazines. Emerald Headway, one of the biggest distributors of magazines, typically has a huge booth at the book fair. Not only are they offering subscriptions but several back issues you can avail for free for every magazine purchases. The also distribute Chicken Soup for the Soul.
- There'll be a couple of freebies and raffles for some of the purchases you make. Last year, National Bookstore gave away free pocket dictionaries for every purchase and the year before that, I was able to snag a couple of Wolves in the Wall postcards. The book fair also has raffles with varying prizes. Hey, it's not a lot but at least if you're going to buy books, you're getting something else and for some people, that's a big incentive in itself.
Okay, now that we know we want to go to the book fair, the next question is when we'll go to the book fair. Experience has taught me that while it's tempting to go on the opening of the book fair, most of the booths don't have their best stock on display yet. Similarly, don't go on the last day either. The best stocks will be gone by then. Having said that, when's the best day to drop by? Personally, if I had a choice, I'd go on the second day. The new stocks will be on display by then and few people would have singled out the best stuff. However, that falls on a Thursday and if you're like me having a day job, that leaves me with little time to get to the book fair. Remember, the book fair closes at 8 pm so if I get off work at 6 pm, that means I'll get to Roxas by 7 pm at the earliest and leaves me with less than an hour to do my book shopping. Believe me, an hour is not enough so it's good to plan your schedule.
Tip #4: Plan your schedule when you're going to the book fair.
Next up are the things you should bring to the book fair. If you're a student or a school faculty member, be sure to bring your ID. The book fair isn't free but charges a small fee (less than P20.00) before you can enter and register. If you show your ID, you get a discount. Now the discount isn't big. If they're normally charging you P7.00 for the entrance, students can get in for P5.00. For some people, P2.00 is a big thing. It's also helps to bring a pen or a marker so that you can fill out the raffle forms and have an author sign a book in the event that you "accidentally" run into them. Personally, I also like to carry a bag because I know I'm going to do some shopping and I want to leave my hands free. The book fair has a baggage counter though so if you fear leaving your valuables like PDAs and iPods with the baggage counter, don't bring them.
Tip #5: Bring your school ID and a pen at the very least. Oh, and your wallet too.
Last but not least is navigating through the book fair. You can check out their map but the stalls haven't been labeled yet. Most likely the bigger bookstore chains will be in the platinum or gold area while the smaller shops in the bronze. Also take note of where the restrooms are in the event that you feel the call of nature. There's also some concessionaires in the book fair but they're not big lunches, more of snacks-on-the-go and good old coffee (having said that, you might not want to go to the book fair on an empty stomach). It's also important to have a system when navigating through the book fair instead of aimlessly wandering in a whimsical direction. I usually scan the various stalls in a horizontal manner then slowly move up. Once I've scouted all the booths, I go to the bookstores I want to go. Have a similar plan when navigating through the bookstore's bookshelves. The important thing is to be systematic about it and not arbitrary.
Tip #6: Study the book fair's layout and plan where you want to go.