The advent of e-books or electronic books has prompted naysayers to predict the demise of its printed counterpart. Who wants to lug around heavy volumes when a digital version can be accessed through a smartphone or a tablet? And with the young generation’s shorter attention span, only pocket stories, flash and fan fiction on the web are bound to flourish, right?
Wrong! The sheer number of independent bookstores setting up shop gives the lie to this prediction, with social media ironically—and happily—stoking love of reading as netizens share their current book favorites and revered authors.
The steep price of imported books has also breathed new life to preloved bookstores, where the bargain bin offers best-selling titles, quick reads and beloved classics like Albert Camus’ “The Stranger,” for P25. Who can say no?
Here’s a short list of Metro Manila’s budget bookshops where good reads and great prices prove a perfect match.
GYY Building, 1 Tomas Morato Avenue corner E. Rodriguez, Quezon City, 3 p.m.-12 a.m.
Published poet and businessman Harris Guevarra wanted to give Filipino authors a venue to sell their books without the steep consignment requirements imposed by big bookstores, so 100 percent of titles offered are by Filipino authors and illustrators.
Only brand-new books are sold here, with prices that range from P50 to P2,000. The bookshop will soon invite writers from the Visayas and Mindanao to use the shop to showcase their work as well, Guevarra said, adding that the shop also offers space for poetry reading, book launches and other events.
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Book geek Gerski Villas, who owns this business, said the bookshop was born out of “practicality and idealism.”
“Practicality because of a need to have a decent source of money back then, and idealism (because I wanted) to promote a culture of reading,” he explained of the bookshop named after American author Ernest Hemingway, “who championed the ideals of brevity, bravery and grace under pressure (in) his unforgettable works.”
The bookshop specializes in philosophy books, classics and contemporary fiction, award-winning titles, Filipiniana, self-help books and nonfiction which are sourced locally and abroad.
Book prices range from P150 to P500 with occasional flash sales that price books at P100 each. Book orders can be shipped nationwide at extra cost.
“We promote a thrift culture so most of our books are pre-owned but still in great condition,” Villas said.
Dan Gaffud, who owns the now iconic Bookay-Ukay, opened BookFellas to have another outlet for his oversupply of books.
“As much as possible, I want to provide avid readers like me books across all genres,” Gaffud said. “I have mostly second-hand titles, but I also have brand-new books, especially those published independently by local writers. There are also University Press’ titles.”
Books are priced from P80 to P1,000. Gaffud said he would soon be converting another room to a selling area so book lovers can choose from among more titles and merchandise.
78 Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village East, Diliman, Quezon City, 1 p.m.-11 p.m.
No list of budget bookstores will be complete without Bookay-Ukay Pilipinas, the bookshop that revolutionized independent bookselling when it first opened at Maginhawa in 2008. It became a hub not only among bibliophiles but also artists, rock stars and celebrities.
The concept started in a social networking website for book lovers called shelfari.com, said Gaffud. “We wanted to share the joy of reading and some really good titles that my former partners and I had handpicked,” he added.
Personally, he likes to read philosophy books, but to capture a broader market, he has also started selling mainstream titles like “Twilight.”
The books, which are priced from P80, are arranged by genre to make the title search easier.
Although the bookstore has become a household word among book lovers, Gaffud has his expectations firmly grounded. “This is not the kind of business that will make you rich. (But) you will get rich in knowledge,” he said.
“Aside from that, you’d always feel happy when there are new titles. Sometimes, you can’t help but spend rent money to buy more books,” he added with a chuckle.