True book lovers know that the adventure doesn't start when you begin reading — it starts with finding a good book. There is just something so thrilling with rifling through bookshelves and picking the perfect book to buy.
Those who want to score cheaper books tend to visit secondhand bookstores more than the mainstream ones. There is a quiet charm with used books that you don't get from shiny brand new ones. Each one contains, not only the story in the book but also the story of how it ended up in the store. And then there is the novelty of the bookstores themselves, which can sometimes be found in curious places. Since secondhand bookstores hold a wide variety of titles, the chances of finding rare books are higher.
Itching to get your hands on new but cheap books? Check out this list of secondhand bookstores in Metro Manila.
Books from Underground is a secondhand bookstore situated at the heart of the Lagusnilad underpass. The store, which is packed from floor to ceiling with stacks of books, is frequented by university students and intrigued passersby at the busy passageway for its cheap yet good selections. This bookstore’s edge lies in its friendly shopkeeper, AJ Laberinto, who has an astounding knowledge of literature. If he doesn’t have what you’re looking for, he would be happy to search the streets of Metro Manila to get you your copy. The books are priced from P30 up. In July, the iconic bookstore was ordered closed after Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno led a clean-up drive at the Lagusnilad underpass. But when word got out on social media, outraged netizens pushed Moreno to allow the reopening of the beloved bookstore. For now, they have yet to reopen a physical store, but those who are interested may check their stocks at their Facebook page.
Reading Club 2000 is not a bookstore, but a library “with no rules.” Sixty-six-year-old Hernando “Mang Nanie” Guanlao converted his two-story house into a library that is open 24/7. People can take home, and also donate, as many books as they want. Mang Nanie started with only 50 books in his library, but when people started donating, he eventually ended up with about two million books in his collection. Aside from manning the library, Mang Nanie also reaches out to far-flung communities to donate books to school children. Reading Club 2000 is located at 1454 Balagtas Street, Barangay La Paz, Makati City. They also have a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
Despite its unassuming exterior, Books Please is a renowned student hangout at the University Mall at Taft Avenue in Manila. The store occupies a small space underneath a staircase, but with its selections filling the shelves, newsstands, and crates, you're bound to find something to take home. They have a diverse selection of books, from textbooks to titles by best-selling mainstream writers. The store is open from Mondays to Saturdays at 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Bookay-Ukay Pilipinas is known for being one of the most popular independent bookstores in Metro Manila. Dan Gaffud established the bookstore in 2008 and handpicked some of the selections to be sold. He then started gradually adding mainstream books in the mix to cater to a bigger market. Prices of the books start at P80. If you want to visit this book shop, better come early – bibliophiles are known to swoop down on all the good selections as soon as the store opens. Bookay-Ukay is at No. 78, Maginhawa Street, Teachers’ Village, Diliman, Quezon City. The store is open every day from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and can be reached through their Facebook page.
What can you expect when visiting Chapter IX Bookstore & Gallery? Rare finds and a carefully curated selection of great reads. Gary Montenegro, the bookshop owner who handpicks the books to be sold, said he is inspired by the customers. Through his shop and book recommendations, he can be part of the customers' bookish journeys and can help them create good memories associated with books. The store's books are priced P49 up. Chapter IX Bookstore & Gallery at 3 Arasimis, Project 7, Quezon City opens from 1 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Interested customers may reach them through their Facebook page.
Can't choose between hoarding books or getting your coffee or alcohol fix? Look no further than Kwago Book Bar, which is not only a bookstore but is also a part library and part café bar. Some events, such as seminars and workshops, are also frequently held at the shop. Kwago is located at Warehouse 8-A, La Fuera Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays to Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Those who are interested can check their Facebook page for updates on their events and books that are for sale.
The Reading Room is a charming bookstore in the middle of Cubao Expo, one of the cool and trendy hangouts today. They also sell their books online and at bazaars, particularly the Legaspi Park Sunday Market in Makati City. Their selection varies from romance pocketbooks to books by best-selling authors. But what some people may not know about it is that the second floor of the bookstore doubles as a venue where the Sandy Allan-Beltran, the shop owner, holds private tarot reading session for clients. The Reading Room is shop #39 at the Cubao Expo along Gen. Romulo Street at Araneta Center Cubao. Check out their products and events at their Facebook page.
BookFellas was established by Bookay-Ukay owner Dan Gaffud so he can have another outlet for his growing book collection. Their hole-in-the-wall store just recently opened at No. 19 Malingap Street, Teachers’ Village West, Diliman, Quezon City so it still looks unfinished. However, you'll find the place quite cozy with a black couch where customers are welcome to hang out and read. The selections are priced P10 up. The shop can be reached through their Facebook page, and their physical store is open every day from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
If you're on the hunt for some rare books, Libroel's Bookshop is your best bet to find them. The bookstore, which was founded by Roel Abaya in 2009, specializes in selling hard-to-find and out-of-print books. Its shelves that are neatly labeled by genre are crammed with great reads on history, philosophy, politics, and many more. There are books that are sold for as low as P50, but the rare titles are sold at a much steeper price. Libroel's Bookshop, located at 176 Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village, 1101 Quezon City, is open everyday from 1 to 11 p.m. They can be contacted through their Facebook page.
Not only is JERVS/Mabel Pocketbooks Store known for its assortment of books, its shopkeeper, Edgardo Perea is also known to be very nice and accommodating to his customers. If you can't find the book you're looking for or if you just want some book recommendations, kuya Ed will be glad to assist you. And you'll need the assistance, because the variety of books in the store, paired with their ridiculously low prices (some books are sold for only P10), can be a little overwhelming for true blue bibliophiles. The 22-year-old JERVS/Mabel Pocketbooks Store is on the ground floor of the Guadalupe Commercial Complex in Makati City, right below the northbound side of the Guadalupe Metro Rail Transit (MRT) station. They are open everyday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and have a Facebook page where they sometimes post photos of their products.