LITERATURE

The best local online bookstores: 2021 edition

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To help you with your “shelf-indulgence,” aka book hoarding, here are 12 local independent bookstores that you might want to visit (and revisit) online. Photo from BOOKSTORE IN THE RYE

When the lockdown came and we were all shuttered inside our homes, bookworms and bibliophiles like us turned to online bookstores to look for stories to help us through such an unprecedented time.

As restrictions eased, brick and mortar bookstores also opened gradually. But with the COVID-19 virus still lingering, literally, in the air, browsing Facebook and Instagram posts of these independent bookstores was the better alternative.

To address your “shelf-indulgence,” aka book hoarding, here’s the 2021 edition of our bookstores list.

Bookulaw

Bookulaw (its bilingual portmanteau name roughly translates to “Reading Ape”) comes out with a new batch of books for sale only once or twice a month, and even then, the number of books is not exactly huge. But what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality, considering that offered titles often include literary luminaries like Jhumpa Lahiri, Alice Munro, Philip Roth, and Mario Vargas Llosa. You can reserve books by commenting on their photos during scheduled uploads.

Screencap from BOOKULAW/FACEBOOK

Surpriseoutofboxes

Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl, JRR Tolkien, “The Little Prince,” “Winnie-the-Pooh,” and the like have become staples of Surprisesoutofboxes’ selection. Still, the store manages to make good on the promise of its moniker with the diversity of its other offerings for readers of all ages and persuasions. 

Screencap from SURPRISEOUTOFBOXES

Balangaw Books

For collectors of Archipelago Books, New York Review of Books, Penguin, Verso and other covetable editions, Balangaw Books has got your back. Their prices average around ₱300-600, depending on the condition or how rare the book is. Balangaw Books also carry local poetry books from small presses when available. 

Photo from BALANGAW BOOKS/FACEBOOK

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.

Screencap from BOOKS, BRAINS, BOMBS/FACEBOOK

Chapter IX Bookstore

From perennially popular paperbacks to overly obscure hardcovers, Chapter IX Bookstore has got you covered. The online shop makes discovering new favorites and finding hard-to-find editions of old ones largely convenient with its browsing categories, including signed editions, books on writing, art books, etc. 

Screencap from CHAPTER IX BOOKSTORE/FACEBOOK

Roel’s Bookshop

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.

Screencap from ROEL'S BOOKSHOP/FACEBOOK

Required Reading PH

Required Reading PH’s about page contains the quote “To read is to resist.” Indeed, with books by authors such as James Baldwin, Noam Chomsky, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the gems you’ll find in this independent bookshop can start you on a path of awakening.

Screencap from REQUIRED READING PH/FACEBOOK

Artbooks

Artbooks is a rare gem of a bookstore as it specializes in Filipino publications. It has a great selection of books from local university presses, zines and small presses, and even books on Filipino authors or subjects by an international publishing house. They also carry rare and out of print books on Filipino artists such as Amorsolo, Joya, and Legaspi. Check their Facebook or Instagram for updates.

Screencap from ARTBOOKS.PH

Librodega

By many accounts, Librodega (another shop with a bilingual portmanteau name, this time aptly meaning “bookstore”) is one of the local online secondhand bookstores with the most affordable offerings. Indeed, seldom do the prices of its books go beyond ₱300, a cottage industry anomaly that is all the more remarkable given the quality of the books, in terms of both their condition and their content. They also upload on their Instagram account.

Screencap from LIBRODEGA/FACEBOOK

Omniana

While browsing the Omniana website, it will seem like they only carry beautiful-looking books. The bookstore fronts some of the most amazing editions and book covers, from Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions, Everyman’s Library classics, to the most talked about books in contemporary literature. They also carry art and collector’s editions. Prices are on the steep side though, since books are new. They also have a Facebook page.

Screencap from OMNIANA/FACEBOOK

Bookstore in the Rye

Nobel and Pulitzer winners, Eisner and Booker Prize awardees, a New York Times Notable Book — you’ll most likely find it in Bookstore in the Rye. The upload cards contain helpful information (such as the state of the book, awards it has won, or how much it is if you’re getting it at full bookstore price) to help you decide which book to get — though you have to act fast as books are “mine”-ed in a flash. Some books uploaded are also brand new. 

Screencap from BOOKSTORE IN THE RYE/FACEBOOK

Book Around the Corner

Books Around the Corner has a great range of affordable books that can appeal to casual readers and hardcore bibliophiles alike. They also upload a huge selection of children’s literature, inspirational and self-help books. Usual suspects include books by JRR Tolkien, Roald Dahl, and Toni Morrison. Plus, bestselling authors like Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Dan Brown.

Screencap from BOOKS AROUND THE CORNER/FACEBOOK

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