The other day I was passing through the QC memorial circle (as is my wont) and I decided to walk around the tiangge/flea market that’s often there. It seemd larger than usual that day, so I figured I should finally take a look. And in the process I remembered what I dislike about local flea markets: 90% of the stalls are selling some form of clothes (which I have no interest in browsing - maybe if these stalls sold something my size for once!) and maybe 9.9% are selling cheap knockoff toys (which might interest me if they were free or such) or cellphone accessories. And maybe, on a rare 0.1% occassion, a stall will have something I’m interested in browsing: used books.
I like browsing books for sale. Never mind that I already have too many books to read already. Used book sales are not very common in Metro Manila. I mean, there’s the big franchise stores in the mall like National Bookstore or Fully Booked or Powerbooks, but given that I alreayd have too many books to read and how frugal I am, I rarely buy from those stores these days (though I still do browse through them often).
Used books sales, especially of the random pop-up kind, are a different matter. It’s a bit like treasure hunting in a way, where you’re hoping toe be lucky enough to find a bargain (I suppose this is how people who like browsing for clothes feel like at these flea markets).
Used book sales aren’t very common around here, sadly. There’s Book Sale branches in the malls of course, but their selection often isn’t very good. Yes, I’m picky too! I’m usually looking for stuff like science fiction, fantasy, or comics. Or maybe an interesting autobiography or nonfiction book - probably the best purchase I ever made at a Book Sale was getting a copy of The Rock Says, The Rock’s autobiography for cheap (I still have that book around here somewhere).
There also used to be a small used book store called Chapter IX at a small commercial center near where I live. They had a very good selection, a lot of it sci-fi and fantasy. Their prices weren’t super cheap though, so I didn’t buy much from them. My copy of Dune came from there. Sadly it isn’t there anymore. I think they’re mostly just selling books online via Facebook now. Browsing through book pictures online doesn’t feel the same as rummaging through stacks of used books - it feels more like intentional buying rather than the browsing I enjoy.
There’s another used book store that I sometimes go to called Bookay-Ukay in Teacher’s Village. It’s okay - the selection is definitely better than Book Sale. They have some comics and sometimes video game guides too (I like those too!). I think I’ve bought at least one pocketbook from them and a couple of comics/guides. I’m not sure if they’re still around - the last time I passed by there it was closed, but they seem to have weird hours so IDK.
The best used book sale I ever found in the Metro was this pop-up stall that I only saw at the Greenfield market near Shaw Boulevard. This was back when Geekfight was doing regular quiz nights on Fridays in that area. A number of stalls would be set up there around the Friday night entertainment. Most of the stalls would be food or clothing (as per usual) but there was always at least one stall, sometimes two, selling used books. They both had pretty good selections too, I ended up buying quite a bit from them. I remember buying a couple of Discworld books, some old-school CYOA and Heir to the Empire (the first Thrawn book) from there. Geekfight stopped doing their quiz nights there after a while though, and since I no longer work in Ortigas, I never really pass anywhere near that area anymore, so I don’t know if those used book stalls are still a thing.
I always keep an eye out for book stores, used or not, even when I’m travelling in another country. During my first night on my first trip abroad, I walked a few blocks around the neighborhood where I was staying and was happy to find a small hole-in-the-wall book store just a couple of streets away. Of course, all the books were in Chinese! During my Europe trip, I remember walking along the Seine in Paris and I came along a series of pop-up stalls in some kind of mini-flea market near the river side. Quite a few of them were selling old and/or used books, many of them French, some in English, and I think there were some Asterix comics in Italian I think. I didn’t end up buying anything, but it was fun. I also remember finding quite a few used book stores in the Camden Market in London while I was there.
Also, travel tip: you can type “book stores near me” in Google Maps to see nearby book stores (or any other kind of stores I guess). I do this a lot.
I wish book stores were more common around here, but I can understand why they aren’t too popular. Books often aren’t a high priority for the Filipino masses, given all the other challenges in life. I’m very lucky to have grown up with parents who not only instilled a love of reading in me, but also had the budget to buy me books all the time. Sadly, these days I don’t read too many books anymore (I blame the internet). Hopefully that’s something I can correct next year.