Saturday, November 22, 2008

Go ahead, judge this bookstore

It's not the most genteel corner of the city--rude jeepneys, rutted roads, snarling traffic and regular floods see to that--but, to book lovers, the adjacent malls of Makati Cinema Square and Waltermart in the Pasong Tamo/Pasay Road junction must seem like an oasis.

Makati Square hosts a Book Sale branch with a consistently good selection of titles. Waltermart has the high-end specialty bookstore Bibliarch on the ground floor--small, rather snooty, with steeply priced merchandise. I've never bought anything from there. But I'm happy enough that something like it exists in a decidedly blue-collar part of Makati. (Anything beyond Ayala Avenue is blue-collar, believe me.) Waltermart itself is more neighborhood mall than, well, supermall. That Bibliarch seems to be surviving here gives me a jaunty feeling.

Even better, there's another bookstore on the third floor of the mall, relatively new and well-stocked. Buy-The-Book offers mid-priced volumes, somewhere between the basement rates of Book Sale and the mint-condition prices of Bibliarch. It surprised me to learn that it sources its stocks from National Bookstore and Powerbooks. “Sister company po kami ng Powerbooks,” explained the chipper cashier.

Aha. A downstream outlet for stubborn non-movers in the two much bigger chains. A look at the books confirm that many still carry their original National Bookstore or Powerbooks prices, but now side by side with drastically marked-down tags. You'd think stocks that have gone on sale a number of times wouldn't yield good titles, but I've seen books here that I wouldn't normally ask for in National, for instance (where, the last time I inquired about books on musical theater, I was led to a shelf containing song compilations.)

In Buy-The-Book, from the shelf marked “Entertainment” alone, I recently netted six finds:

1. Who the Hell's In It: Conversations With Hollywood's Legendary Actors, by Peter Bogdanovich

2. Hairspray, Female Trouble and Multiple Maniacs: Three More Screenplays by John Waters

3. Ian McKellen: An Unofficial Biography (hardbound), by Mark Barratt

4. Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick, by Frederick Raphael

5. A Whore's Profession: Notes and Essays, by David Mamet

6. Eastwood (the complete career of Clint Eastwood in words and pictures), by Robert Tanitch

The first three books set me back by P199 each. The next two sold for P149 apiece. (Mamet for P149? Wicked.) The Eastwood book, though, is a spectacular discovery. It's a handsome volume--good paper, great pictures, succinct writing--and it was marked... P75. The cashier's smile got even wider when she confirmed I was reading the ridiculous price right.

There are shelves and shelves of fiction titles; I'll leave those for another day. Unlike Books for Less, another bargain book outlet that seems to materialize at odd mall corners and then disappear, this one looks set to stay for a while. The store's on the third level, right beside Robinsons Department Store. Like the rest of the mall, it's open until 9 p.m.

The girl at the till reacted with alarm when I began taking pictures with my phone. I told her they're for the blog. Her look said, “Huh?,” so I just gave her my name and business card. If you find yourself in the vicinity, check out the store and tell the lady--I hope she's still there--that you read about it here. Time to let her know what a blog is--and that it can be a friend.

PLUS: Speaking of books, Fully Booked and Yehey have an event for bloggers on Nov. 28. Registration is required--here.

[Photos taken with a Sony Ericsson C905]


missingpoints said...

Ingat lang when you enter a Powerbooks or National with a book from there in your bag, you'll set off the alarm when you leave. They don't deactivate the security thingy at BTB.

TheBachelorGirl said...

Haha! Nawindang ang girl! ;)

paolo said...

those prices are heaven. =(

waltzang said...

you ha. tapos di mo nanaman babasahin mga binili mo. hihihihi!

Pinoy Contests said...

I used to live in Pasong Tamo two years ago, and I thought that the only redeeming quality of the mall was its nice cinemas. Good to know that there's a bargain bookstore in Waltermart now! I've always thought that the selections at Bibliarch downstairs was very limited. Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

i discovered this book store a year ago, though i haven't bought anything from there yet.. i love to browse through their collection. if im not mistaken they also have a branch at sm san lazaro..

Fran said...

Got these interesting finds from the same bookstore:

1. The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006) - clothbound P99

2. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (New York: Viking, 2006) - clothbound P99

3. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky; translated by Sandra Smith (New York and Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006) - clothbound P99

4. Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks (New York: Random House, 2005) - clothbound P99

5. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005) - clothbound P99

6. Beloved by Toni Morrison; Introduction by A.S. Byatt (London and New York: Everyman's Library)- clothbound P99

gibbs cadiz said...

MISSING POINTS, really? baaad. thanks for the tip! :)

naman, LORNA! :)

PAOLO! musta na? haven't heard from you in eons! why aren't you vlogging na? :)

WALTZ, strangely enough, because of all these new books i'm buying, i've taken up serious reading again. goodbye na muna sa dvds--if i can help it. yehey! :)

PINOYCONTESTS, the cinemas are gone in makati square. now there are dvd stores from top to bottom. and bargain bookstores. :)

great finds, FRAN! and all P99? lucky you! :)

waltzang said...

dats gud! mwah!

Kevin said...

I always gloat, gloat, gloat about my cheap finds at Book Sale. Nakakapagod siya, yeah, pero it's WORTH it. :D

And it's nice na may sister company na sila. MORE CHOICES!

gibbs cadiz said...

same here, KEVIN. sarap mag-gloat over cheap finds, haha. :)

questingspirit said...

I know this is one year too late, but I simply can't pass up this bookstore. Will head over to MCS this Christmas. Thanks, Gibbs! The titles and their prices make me salivate. :)

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