Updated 15:07 PM PHT Thu, May 19, 2016
Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Nowadays, you no longer need to mail missives to a quaint bookstore in a far-flung country (like what the author of “84, Charing Cross Road” did decades ago) to inquire about — and hopefully acquire — your desired editions. In this day and age, all it takes is a click of a mouse or a tap of a finger — and right from the comfort of your desk or couch, at that.
Amazon and its subsidiary, Book Depository, are two of the foremost enablers of online book shopping. But their downside is that you have to pay full price for books that are brand new, as is the case with the local bricks-and-mortar chains Fully Booked, National Book Store, and Powerbooks.
If you don’t mind the occasional dog-ear and marginalia, secondhand bookstores are the way to go. There’s the venerable Booksale, of course, with its close to a hundred branches across the Philippines. There’s also the famed Bookay-Ukay, with its sole shop in Quezon City. Online, though, is where secondhand book shopping gets really interesting, if a bit overwhelming.
AbeBooks, another Amazon subsidiary, and Better World Books are just a couple of the established sites that sell used books. But while the books themselves may come cheap from such sites, the accompanying international shipping fees are often anything but. This is where locally based used booksellers with their respective online presence enter the picture, or the narrative, as it were.
To help you with your “shelf-indulgence,” aka book hoarding, here are 10 local secondhand bookstores that you might want to visit (and revisit) online — presented, like many a bookshelf, in alphabetical order.
Aklatan is aptly named as it sells titles with which you can expand your personal library, especially if you’re into a variety of authors across different genres. You can also look forward to its spotlight sales on books by Japanese authors including the two Murakamis, Haruki and Ryu.
Founded in 1999, Avalon.ph may very well be the local counterpart of Amazon, albeit on a much smaller scale. It offers the convenience of directly searching for a particular title or author and of browsing for books across categories (from fiction and comics to nonfiction and Philippine publications) or by price range (from ₱200 below to over ₱1,000 for signed editions). In addition to books, Avalon.ph sells Fashionary sketchbooks, Field Notes memo books, and Moleskine notebooks.
Aside from its official website, Avalon.ph is on Facebook. On the website, add to cart the items you want and then check out. Payment for the total cost plus shipping fee may be made via bank deposit, GCash, or PayPal.
Whether you’re into sci-fi, fantasy, and young-adult fare, or partial to literary fiction, poetry, and philosophy, few other sellers can satiate your bookish appetite like Blink can. Aside from the usual suspects (“The Maze Runner” series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and Jojo Moyes’s novels, to name a few), the searchable online marketplace features a great deal of noteworthy books you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, such as the Penguin Essentials edition of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” and the volume of Nobel lectures by the literature laureates from 1986 to 2006, both of which, as of this writing, are still available (but probably not for long).
Blink is accessible at blink.com.ph. On the website, add to cart the items you want and then check out. Payment for the total cost plus shipping fee (waived for purchases over ₱1,000) may be made via BDO, BPI, GCash, or PayPal. Cash on delivery is also accepted.
Adopting a clicks-and-mortar strategy, Bookends has expanded its business from its physical locations in Baguio and Quezon City to the boundless realm of the Internet. On Facebook, it’s given to uploading photos of used books for sale throughout the day, notably including out-of-print and antiquarian Penguin Classics editions of famous literary works.
Bookends is on Facebook, where you can reserve books by commenting on their photos. Payment for the total cost plus shipping fee may be made via bank deposit. You may request to have your reserved books transferred to any of Bookends’s branches: at the basement of UCPB Building, corner Calderon St., and at Easter Weaving Room, Easter Road, Guisad, in Baguio City; and along Mayon St., Sta. Mesa Heights, in Quezon City.
Books Around the Corner
Books Around the Corner is sort of a small collective of people who sell preloved books on their separate accounts on eBay, but who have banded together to let buyers get their used-book fix through less complicated means. On Facebook and Instagram, the collective highlights a number of available titles of particular interest, such as great books by Dr. Seuss and not-so-great ones by Paulo Coelho.
Comment on photos on Books Around the Corner’s Facebook and Instagram to reserve books, and then pay for the total cost plus shipping fee via bank deposit. You may also opt to pick up your reserved books and browse for more at Books Around the Corner’s stall at the Greenfield Weekend Market, which takes place every Friday and Saturday on Mayflower Street, Greenfield District, Central Park, Mandaluyong City.
Books, Brains, Bombs
Going by the first two-thirds of its name, Books, Brains, Bombs is supposedly aimed at brainy bookworms. Fair enough, what with the presence of Calvino, Joyce, Proust, Szymborska, et al. in its selection. But what about the “Bombs” part? It apparently alludes to the bookstore’s penchant for teasing and finally putting large numbers of books for sale in an “explosive” move that recalls a simultaneous deployment of bombs.
Books, Brains, Bombs is on Facebook. Reserve books by commenting on their photos, and then pay for the total cost plus shipping fee via BPI or LBC.
Books from Underground
Never mind the irregularity of posting and the seeming randomness of the featured books for sale on Books from Underground. If nothing else, this element of surprise makes the store unique among its more measured and organized fellows online. While browsing its selection, you can come across something like Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” one minute and then stumble upon something like “Franchising: The Business Strategy That Changed the World” the next.
Books from Underground is on Facebook, where you can reserve books by commenting on their photos. Payment for the total cost plus shipping fee may be made via BPI. Books from Underground’s physical shop is located at Lagusnilad Underpass, Padre Burgos Ave., Manila.
Chapter IX Bookstore
From perennially popular paperbacks to overly obscure hardcovers, Chapter IX Bookstore has got you covered. Its online shop makes discovering new favorites and finding hard-to-find editions of old ones largely convenient with its browsing categories, including classics, poetry, nonfiction, humor, and more.
Chapter IX Bookstore is on Facebook, where you can reserve books by commenting on their photos. Payment for the total cost plus shipping fee may be made via BPI. You may also opt to pick up your reserved books and browse for more at its physical shop at 1 Aramismis St. corner Anahaw St., Veteran's Village, Project 7, Quezon City, or at its stall at the Greenfield Weekend Market, which takes place every Friday and Saturday on Mayflower Street, Greenfield District, Central Park, Mandaluyong City.
True to its name, Murang Books sells books for cheap. What’s more, it sometimes holds flash sales that make them even cheaper. Make no mistake, though: Murang Books’s secondhand selection is, for the most part, not cheap in the “second-rate” sense, as books by such renowned authors as Austen, Christie, Neruda, and Steinbeck make frequent appearances on its feed.
Murang Books is on Instagram. Comment on photos to reserve books, and then pay for the total cost plus shipping fee via BDO.
The Davao-based Roel’s Bookshop has earned a sizable online following thanks mainly to the diversity and affordability of the books that it sells, which often run the gamut from unfamiliar philosophical treatises to hard-to-find editions of literary classics. Fittingly, its current selection includes a book on how to buy rare books.
Roel’s Bookshop is on Facebook. Comment on photos to reserve books, and then pay for the total cost plus shipping fee via Cebuana Lhuillier.