How to Control Your Inner Book Hoarder

The scene of the crime wasn’t lined with police barricade tape. The place was swarming with people rummaging through piles of books on tables and shelves, and the suspects were already in the long queue to the cashier.

Whether they were lured by signed copies of best-selling books or tempted by the discounted prices, hundreds of people were guilty as charged for book hoarding recently at the 36th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF).

The crime’s punishments: 1) a longer to-be-read list; 2) anxiety from wanting to start reading newly bought books and realizing there are other books to finish; 3) being forced to eat cheap meals for weeks; 4) being forced to turn down your friends’ invites for at least a month; 5) being pressured to work longer hours in the office or do more errands for your parents.

But for book lovers, not buying new books is considered a bigger crime—especially when book fairs, sales, launches and signings happen all throughout the year.

If you have no control over your love for books, Inquirer Super is here to help you pace your book spending for the next big book sale.

Look at your bookshelf before heading to a bookstore or book fair. It will remind you of all the books that remain unwrapped and titles you forgot you already owned. “The books will keep piling up and you wouldn’t know what to read first,” said Karen Marie Santos, who buys an average of two to four books on every bookstore visit.

Write a to-be-read list of all the books you have. The list will motivate you to finish reading more books. Perhaps after crossing off five books on the list, you can treat yourself to a new one. If you do have a monthly list, it will help you monitor how fast you actually read and how many books you should be buying every month.

Make a list of all the books, along with their respective prices, that you bought for the month. Add the figures and see how much you’re actually spending on books, and ask yourself if the habit is still within your means. Think of other things you need to buy with the same amount of money.

Do your research. Don’t be easily persuaded by the book cover alone. Make sure the books you’re getting will give you your money’s worth. Check out reviews by news outlets or fellow bibliophiles on the Good Reads website to determine whether the book is your type of genre. “I make sure—by peeking at the last pages of the book or reading the summary—that the plot isn’t super cliche,” said Santos. “The books should be right for my age, nothing crude or foul, or not childish.”

Set a limit. Whenever you’re out to buy new books, be firm in sticking to how many you planned to buy, or at least write a list of titles you should look for. “Being surrounded by a lot of books is overwhelming, and without a list I ended up buying books that I didn’t like,” said Kit Sab, who has been going to MIBF since she moved to Manila in 2012.

Wait for the economy trade paperback editions. These are also known as the pocketbook versions of the books. They’re almost half the original price!

Save for the next book hauls. Mark your calendars for the annual book fairs so you’re more aware of the time you have to save. This would also allow you to decide if it’s the right moment to purchase books, or if you could wait for the next book fair. For Philippine literature, it’s wise to take note of the publishers of the books you want, since they hold warehouse sales.

“I get to save money that I could use to buy even more books!” said Jesh Orquina.

The aftermath of book fairs always yields more books in your hands, but, hopefully, less impulsive buying.

This post was previously published on The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Oct. 16, 2015.

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