Well played, Big Bad Wolf

(Wherein resistance is futile)

I thought I was over my book hoarding phase. I mean, I did a major purge of my bookshelves last year and my hallway library was finally beginning to look like it could hold all my books, and then, bam! I met the Big Bad Wolf.

I’ve heard of legends, of course. Myra, my book blogger friend in Singapore, has always raved about her Big Bad Wolf expeditions and her monster hauls. My sister also happened to come across a BBW sale in Penang a few years back, and told me it was created for people like me.

Still, though, I don’t think I was prepared to fail so spectacularly at keeping things in check! Last night our book club descended on the preview, and it was epic — I spent more than five hours in there and still wasn’t completely satisfied, so I actually braved going back this morning, and it was worth it.

People have been messaging for tips, so here’s what I can tell you

  1. Entrance. It’s not a ticketed event, so you can just walk in anytime.  The queue should be minimal since the event is 24/7 until Feb. 25 and you only have to go through bag inspection.  Come in comfy clothes and shoes  — so far, even with the day 1 crowd it hasn’t been stiflingly hot, but it wasn’t cold either, and you’re going to need to make sure your shoes will enable you to cover the entire selling floor. Bring a reusable bag for your purchases, or a wheelie bag or luggage if you are planning a big haul.

Come watered and fed — I would recommend clearing five to six hours of your schedule to maximize your visit (read: 1h 45 min for the queue to the cashier today —  hopefully faster in the wee hours). Hit the loo before you go inside, you can’t bring your cart or your bag into the restroom.

If you do need a break, there are a couple of food booths outside, but you can’t bring your unpaid cart outside and it’s double the effort splitting your book run into two if the queue to the cashier is long.

2. Grab a cart. Very important, before you grab any books. There seemed to be a shortage this morning, and you can’t get very far with your arms laden with books.

3. Familiarize yourself with the layout. The selection is quite extensive, and it’ll take you hours to browse everything (it took me two half-day visits, and I skimmed some sections. It gets harder as your cart gets heavier and you have to maneuver through the floor). The entire World Trade Center is filled with tables and pallets stacked with books. Nonfiction to the front extending to the left, then fiction in the back towards the right.  Children’s books occupy more than half of the back portion. Nonfiction is divided into subjects: business, history, art and graphic design, travel, crafts and hobbies, science, health, pets, puzzles, and so on… Of course, sometimes books are misfiled and inevitably weeded out books mix in with the displays.

I think I spent the most time in fiction (looking up reviews), comics and graphic novels, and crafts and hobbies. I think there’s no way you can browse everything leisurely unless you spend the entire day there (and your head doesn’t hurt and your feet don’t give up on you), so I suggest picking out your top five or six sections and browsing there.

4. Expect a sizeable crowd. Of course there will be a crowd, at the prices they sell the books. The crowd I’ve encountered has been manageable — nothing beats the MIBF weekend crowd. But it does get dicey in some areas, especially in fiction, where the crowd is the thickest– be prepared to wade in and to maneuver your cart around some tricky corners. Be nice: ask if you need to pass through or grab a book that’s out of your reach, and don’t poach books from other people’s carts.

Also, try and return books where you found them, or the designated discard areas, just so life is easier for everyone. Oh, and don’t go around unwrapping sealed books — there’s usually a display copy out for you to browse.

5. Set a budget. HA! I’m one to talk. Set a budget then set an emergency buffer (because you may will pick up things on your way to the cashier). Book prices are generally P160, P190, P230, P290, P390, P540 and up, depending on the type of book. The tills accept cash and card payments so you can pay either way or even split the payment method.

6. Queue up. Keep an eye out for the queue to the cashier. If it’s snaking through the halls and you have a buddy, best to queue up and alternate browsing. If you’re alone, look for the end of the line placard and queue up there once you’re ready to check out.

The queue leads out of the selling floor into a penned cashier area with over 40 tills. The queue moves quickly but the volume just may be too much — I waited nearly two hours to check out today, and picked up several more titles along the way (ha!). There’s also a table in front of each till, with lovely stationery (it’s a trap for people like me).

7. Weed out. I feel like the best strategy for maximum efficiency is to load up your cart with the books that interest you and weed out before you get to the cashier. They have a sorting area specifically for that purpose, but if you find the queue has snaked its way through the halls (like today), you’ll have plenty of time to contemplate your purchases along the way. There are discard piles along the way — but do pay attention, too, because there may be a book in there that catches your eye!

So, the burning question remains: what did I buy? Not sure if you can zoom in to see the price stickers, but haha, don’t judge!

A few fiction titles:

The Meg Cabot was signed, and it seemed to be the only signed copy in the stack! I found it because I was trying to see if I’d read it already because I don’t remember having a copy.

An aromatherapy book for my sister:

Another type workbook that I hopefully get to fill in:

Food and drink:

The illustrations are lovely, and I like trivia:

For my friend Mika (but I might just browse through this one before it gets to her):

This one I couldn’t pass up, even if I have to fussy cut everything:

This seems like a lot of fun:

The Star Trek haul for my cousin Dianne:

And the science haul, also for said cousin:

Some Pratchett.  The Compleat AnkhMorpork is  for my cousin — I bought mine a couple of years ago for P1600. The Carpet People is a second copy — my old one isn’t illustrated like this one is.

Some new titles for my collection:

And my bigest haul: sewing books. My fave is the Cath Kidston boxed set because this was selling for 30 quid at the stores in London and I got it for P390. It even comes with material for a DIY bag!

I think I’m good (for now), but who knows, maybe I’ll get the chance to come back before the event closes — especially when I see what other people have been buying. Definitely enjoyed meeting the Big Bad Wolf (even if he took all my money) — if this is the start of an annual tradition, will definitely save up for it next time!

Hope this helps. Happy shopping, and tell me what you bought!

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