IN COLLEGE, we read an excerpt of Roland Barthes’ A Lovers’ Discourse. What we had then was a photocopy of particular chapters we were assigned to read. We didn’t have the actual book. But the language and the beauty of how Barthes wrote the book got us all hooked that we were still talking about it even after class. It is one of the class readings that stuck with me even when I was already working.
But, looking for a physical copy of the book was not easy. It was not readily available in Davao branches of National Bookstore and even Fully Booked. So great was my desire to have a hold of the book, I decided to order a copy from Fully Booked BGC even though it probably cost me double the price of the book because of the shipping. But when it arrived in the office, it was like a gift from me to me. From then on, I became more hooked with buying books online. I scouted for different independent book sellers on Facebook and discovered their great array of book choices – such guilty pleasure. You can find a comfortable corner in your room where there’s good Wi-Fi signal and prepare to find literary treasures that are sometimes rare to find in mainstream bookshops.
1. The Book Snoop
This Manila-based bookshop was founded in April 2016 and now has a following of about 65,680 people on Facebook. The ordering system is just like any other Facebook stores: you declare dibs, mine, or save for the books you want to buy.
Their books vary from non-fiction, fiction, to theoretical books. Given that they have more than 65,000 likes and followers on Facebook, The Book Snoop has a pretty organized way of dealing with orders and with their clients. The best thing about them is they listen to the comments of their customers upon receipt of the order.
Very few independent online bookstores have Filipiniana choices. The Book Snoop has that. I have ordered books and an anthology by Filipino writers. They even sell books that were formerly owned by the late great Filipino fictionist Luis Katigbak.
2. My Dream Books>
Founded in October 2015, this online bookstore now has about 6,178 likes on Facebook. I personally haven’t from them but I have liked their page since last year.
Browsing through their collection, I can say they have colorful choices of books ranging from Steinbeck, Clancy, Eco, Gaiman, McEwan to as classic as Carroll.
The choices can be exciting for others but personally I found the collection too diverse for comfort. It’s diverse I can’t find something I’m particularly fond or excited of as much as I was excited to find Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse online, for example.
3. Book Duke
Best thing about Book Duke is they are based in Davao City and you can just get your order the following weekend after they uploaded the books for order. They arrange for meet-ups in a mall here in Davao City for those who are just living here.
The disadvantage is that their book selection is so great, I had to skip Facebook sometimes to avoid overspending. Haha! I’ve got a pile of books I bought from Book Duke sitting in my room seemingly begging for additional decent shelf spaces. Book Duke has a good sense of a great book or just a meh book. I would say they are strategic in pricing the books as they price according to its worth and demand. They have Murakami, Neruda, poetry books, Burgees, Palahniuk, King, Picoult, Bukowski, and so many others. Usually, they announce the schedule of their upload a few days before so the customers can set their alarms and be the first one to dibs the books. It’s a war. Sometimes, book worms tend to be competitive. Haha!
I started buying from Book Duke in 2017 and haven’t stopped since.
4. Bookstore in the Rye
Created in October 2014, this Facebook page now has 7,748 likes.
For every book that they post, they indicate whether it’s paperback or hardbound. They also go the extra mile and note the nominations of the book, if there were any. I am also particularly fond of their collection which ranges from Golding, Poe, Donne, Dostoyevsky, to as contemporary as Levi, and Lahiri.
For all these online bookstores, be sure to really pay for the books you reserve otherwise you will be banned from the page. Worse case, they don’t forgive multiple offenders and just leave you drooling for the rare books you love but can’t reserve.
While digitalization may have taken control on some fields and activities that we participate in, it is a pleasing thing to note that people still love to read physical books even if e-books are already a thing. While we still love to go to physical bookshops such as NBS, Fully Booked, and Booksale, independent online bookstores are welcome alternatives.