We used to have so many bookstores. I remember our Canadian guest’s comment that he noticed that there were many bookstores in the Philippines even if it’s a small country. I counted in my mind the books that I’ve been to, mainly in Makati alone:
- National Book Store
- Power Books
- A Different Kind of Bookstore
- The Filipino Bookstore
- Fully Booked
- Book Sale – for second hand books
In other places in Metro Manila, there was Popular Bookstore, really popular as it was named, I’ve read and heard about it but failed to go there . In college , there was a second-hand bookstore in the campus , a branch of their main store in Recto in the university belt in the city of Manila. There were the Catholic Trade and St. Paul’s which publish and sell religious books along with religious items.
Of the bookstores listed and mentioned above , I only see National Bookstore and Fully Booked in Makati, with branches that are downsized. This was even before the pandemic . My friends and I noticed that the sections for books were getting smaller in th bookstores while the school supplies were getting bigger. These two bookstores are chain stores and have better chances of surviving in the business that is slowly being replaced by online publications and stores. Still, they have down sized. I still see St. Paul’s and Book Sale in malls. The others , the specialty /boutique bookstores have all gone, gone into the digital realm I hope, and not into oblivion.
But there was an event this month which gave hope to book lovers. After an absence of two years due to the pandemic, the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) returned to the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City for its 43rd celebration on September 15-18, 2022. The MIBF is the largest and longest-running book fair in the Philippines. As reported many publishers thought that only a few people would come, given the hard times the country is facing. Although somewhat smaller than the crowd in 2019, the readers who flocked to the MIBF from Friday to Sunday last week give us hope for the future of reading and literacy in the land.
Cheers to book lovers, the book stores are probably just transitioning or adjusting to the new realities worlwide.