Saving secondhand bookshops

If vintage clothing stores are the way for fashionistas to dress cheap, secondhand bookshops are the way for me to read all the books I want without boring a hole in my pocket. My book obsession started when I was a kid. When I was young, my mom filled our house with books (most were donated by her siblings or from the church she used to work for). Also, I remember I would wait for her in the library of my school until she comes to pick me up.

In early 2000s, there used to be a Booksale branch in Citimall in Philcoa. Looking back, the store only had three shelves of books. I would buy copies of Goosebumps, Sweet Valley High, or Sweet Dreams as well as back issues of teen magazines there. Even back then, brand new books were expensive and money was scarce growing up; that small secondhand bookshop has become one of my favourite places. I mean, who could resist when you see books priced at 10 pesos. Obviously, not me. The store no longer exists now, but I still have some of the books I bought there.

When I started working and earning, I never think twice buying a book that I like, even if I will not read it right away. Even if it will sit in my shelf for years. Even with the advent of eBooks and eReaders, I still prefer physical books.

I think one of the charms of secondhand bookshops is you will never know what their inventory is until you get there and search for it. Unlike in National Bookstore or Fullybooked, you can ask the staff for a particular book and if they have it, they will hand it to you – fresh, sterile and plastic-wrapped. However, in secondhand bookstores, it is like treasure hunting. Scouring the shelves is part of the fun.

In the pre-COVID world, I could spend HOURS in the store and go through every bookshelf until I find the books that I like. And if you find the book, there is this sense of urgency to buy it, because if you don’t, it could be the last copy or the store will refresh its inventory and you will never find it again.

I always go for books that won the Man Booker Prize and books written by authors who won the Nobel Prize. However, I also have my fair share of guilty pleasures like fast-paced, crime fiction and children’s classics.

Even when I go overseas, I love to visit bookstores and buy some books instead of buying typical souvenirs.

Kitazawa Bookstore
Jimbocho in Tokyo

However, COVID-19 happened.

While the quarantine did wonders for my reading, I breeze through books; it disrupted and devastated many industries.

Last week, I made my first trip to Booksale post quarantine. The place was almost deserted. I was anxious to stay for a long time due to fear of infection. However, the store has a great selection that day (probably because less people are visiting the shop). I went home with a great book haul.

One way of supporting secondhand bookshops is to order books online. Most bookstores have moved their business in eCommerce platforms. The experience, of course, will be different, but it is a way to ensure that these stores will keep running.

I am posting here some of my favourite and well-trusted online bookshops where you can find great books!

Booksale –

Aklatan –

Chapter IX –

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