September is a month of many great things, the most important being the Colombo International Book Fair which is held at the BMICH every year. There’s a week or so before the book fair and this time should be used to prepare for the event.

Before the book fair

Ideally you should have started saving right after last year’s book fair. A year’s savings is a lot of money. So save as much as you can.

Make a list of all the books you need. If you read about a book you want, add it to the list. If you have to complete a series, add the remaining books to the list. If you need any books for school, add them to the list. Any and all books you need should be written down.

Now comes the tough part; categorizing the list. The book list should be further divided into books for school, books you absolutely need and books you don’t need right now. This will help you decide which books you absolutely need to buy and help you buy books you actually need.

Always have a budget. Just because you collected X amount, doesn’t mean you should spend that entire amount. Since you have your lists ready, set an amount for each list. For instance, 40 percent for school books and 40 percent for books you want, which could be anything from novels, nonfiction to encyclopedias.
When surrounded by books, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to buy books you didn’t plan on buying. We all have our weaknesses so it’s safer to keep the remaining 20 percent for books you didn’t plan on buying.

Don’t carry ‘big notes’ with you. Five thousand rupee notes are a hassle and nuisance. Have change with you so that it will be easier to buy books.
Pick a day
The book fair will be held from September 18 to 27 which is a 10-day period. Weekends are bound to attract large crowds. The best time to visit the book fair is weekday mornings, but you shouldn’t cut school to go to the book fair.

Remember to avoid the last few days because there’ll be less books and more people.

At the book fair

Meeting spot
It gets pretty crowded at the book fair so there’s a chance you’ll get lost. Don’t take the risk so always have your family in sight. However, it’s safer to decide on a meeting spot and time. This should be an easy to find but not crowded place. This way, even if you do get lost or lose sight of your family or friends, you need not panic.

And if they distribute venue maps at the entrance, don’t hesitate to keep one with you. Plan how you will go to each stall or hall so that you don’t waste time or miss out on any good stalls.

Big bag
If you plan on buying a lot of books, take with you a big bag, preferably a backpack. Try not to carry many things with you as these will add to the weight on your back. Further, if possible, buy the heavier books towards the end or you will have to carry around heavy books from the beginning.

Take a pen
Always have a pen with you. You’ll need this to tick off the items in your lists.

Eat good food, drink lots of water
The book fair will drain you of all the energy you have so don’t forget to eat before you start on your search for books. Carry a bottle of water with you too because all the walking will tire you out.

Don’t be hasty
Take your time. Go to a few stalls before you purchase a book. Some stalls give better discounts than others. There’s nothing worse than buying a book only to realize you could have bought it for a lesser amount from the next stall.

Some books can have folded pages and dirty covers. Flip through the book to make sure you get a good copy.

Receipts and balance
Before you walk away from a stall, make sure the prices of books were added correctly and that you were given the right balance.

Once you get home

The best thing about the book fair is that your room will be filled with books. Take your time writing your name on them or enjoying the book smell.
Then neatly arrange your books on the shelves so that your room isn’t full of bags of books or piles of books.

Plan for 2016
It’s never too early to start preparing for the book fair so start your list for 2016 and collect money.

Don’t forget
The second hand bookstores have many hidden treasures so don’t forget to visit them.

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