Book Excursion

So we made an excursion back to Maginhawa Street. It seems Bookay-Ukay has moved to new digs. The new one is unfortunately too small. The sheer joy of a used bookstore is that it is big enough to accumulate a lot of eclectic books. But this is just part of Bookay-Ukay’s growing pains, maybe they are just in a process.

The main reason we were going back to Maginhawa Street was to see the book cafe Cool Beans Cafe. Many concept coffee shops fail because that’s all they are, a concept. This one did not disappoint. It had a deep enough selection of books to make it interesting and it’s coffee was great. If you are looking for good Sagada coffee, this coffee house is the real deal. And in ample sizes, too. The most interesting books they had were Marcosian book and classic 80s San Miguel beer books. Sitting down and reading a book for hours is totally encouraged. And sharing a book with other customers is de rigueur. Even their brownies tasted home baked at cheap prices. The place reminded me of Fully Booked and A Different Bookstore in their early days.

The biggest thumbs up I can give it is we want to go back ūüôā

Cool Beans Cafe is located right in front of Holy Family School.

Pictures to follow.


Pinoy Komiks

There is a renaissance going on with Filipino comic books.  At the vanguard is Visprint with their flagship series Trese  written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo.  There are others like Skyworld which is only enlivened when Trese shows up.  Filipino Heroes League is not so exciting but a valiant effort.  Elmer a one of by Gerry Alanguilan is impressive.  This one is absolutely free and will become a Visprint title soon.  There are others that might be followed here

On the flip side there are a slew of mangalike stories like Ang Diary ng Panget. ¬†The most famous of this genre are the Bob Ong books written probably by many ghost writers under one alias. ¬†I was suckered into buying the former, thinking it was a comic. ¬†Which would’ve been okay if I was a 14-year old girl which I am not. ¬†Which is acceptable because they were probably written by them. ¬†I’m not looking down on this genre, in fact I absolutely support and admire them, I just won’t read them… yet.

And there is one more thing I have yet to attend, a Komikon. ¬†This year it’s happening on April 12, Saturday at the Bayanihan Center at the Unilab Compound in Pasig. ¬†Gates open at 10am and close at 7pm. ¬†100 pesos entrance fee.

Bruce Chatwin

I just saw two copies of Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia in Fully Booked High Street. They also had a lot of his fiction books. (This is my 100th post, it seems.) I also saw paperback versions of Simon Garfield’s On the Map. Plus lots of Theroux’s The Tao of Travel.

Curating Books

Around two years ago I bought Theroux’s Tao of Travel. ¬†Ever since then that book has opened me to a whole new world of travel writers. ¬†Like a curator at a bookshop, Theroux has introduced me to Cahill, O’Hanlon, and Chatwin, who’s journeys I’m about to embark upon. ¬†There are many more to read, and since I am a completionist, I’m probably going to try to read them all. ¬†I’ve also come across the books of Rory Stewart and Brian Thacker (not recommended by Theroux). ¬†

Because of the TED talks, I’ve also been introduced to a diverse bunch of intellectuals like Clay Shirky. ¬†By my bed are the books Nonzero by Robert Wright and Shadow Cities by Robert Neuwirth. ¬†The latter featured in TED but was actually introduced to me by the Global Business Network (GBN) by Stewart Brand, both of them also TEDsters. ¬†

I also just finished the Coursera course on Fantasy and Science Fiction which introduced me to the books of Cory Doctorow.  I also have the book Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson recommended by Time magazine.  

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are so many books out there and a lot of them were recommended to me by the Internet. ¬†And with the amount of books out there, we need others to “curate” the book for us ahead of time. ¬†Amazon recommendations help a great deal. ¬†I have never actually ordered a book by myself over Amazon, but I do keep an Amazon wishlist which leads me to other books by using Amazon recommends. ¬†I use this wishlist wherever I go in the world, so I know what to buy. ¬†

Travel for me nowadays isn’t just about going to exotic places, part of it is really just going to other first world cities, and see what their bookstores have to offer. ¬†I know I could cave and just get books over my iPad, but it just isn’t the same. ¬†Kinokuniya is my favorite haunt. ¬†And in Korea I found the great What the Book? in Itaewon. ¬†Locally I go to Fully Booked, and if I can’t find it, I order over the National Bookstore networks, they may take a long time, but it’s better than nought. ¬†

My dad advised me to always read the good books first, because there simply isn’t enough time for them all. ¬†He was right, and I haven’t read a bad book in a long time. ¬†Recently, on TED, I was looking for a book called The Language Instinct. ¬†My dad passed away seven years ago, and I found the book right on his shelf. ¬†Thanks, Dad, I love you and miss you.

Bookstore: La Solidaridad

the bookstore with gravitas

In the heart of the Malate backpacking area on Padre Faura St. beside¬†¬†Robinson’s Place Manila is the most historic bookstore the Philippines has.¬† Founded by the National Artist for Literature, F. Sionil Jose, you will find all kinds of international¬†classics and local heavyweights of Philippine literature here.¬† Not quite the place where you will find Twilight, nevertheless, it’s a great place to stock up on books for the long bus rides around the country.¬† You can also find¬†F. Sionil Jose’s¬†books here, of course, his most famous one is My Brother, My Executioner, the third book in his Rosales Saga.

La Solidaridad Bookstore

531 Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila, Tel. (632) 523-0870

My Book Ordering Experiment

September 18

Inspired by a story from one of my friends on Facebook and my generally good experiences in National Bookstore Power Plant, I decided to conduct a little experiment.

Yesterday I went to the customer service counter in National in Rockwell and ordered a book, Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright. I was already emboldened to ask for this book because the PUBLIC COMPUTER in the store said they had it in stock once. So Cristy, the girl behind the counter said they had to special order it. She tried to access the Internet but couldn’t get on. She asked me to leave my cellphone number and I walked around the mall. Eventually she texted me and so I went back to the store. She said she could order it for me and I paid my down payment of 50%. By the way the book would cost 890 pesos. Which is not bad because the book had a sticker price of 17$ or 735 pesos. Now I have to wait around 3 to 4 weeks to see the results of my experiment.

As a a comparison study, I’m going to approach Fully Booked next and see if I can order Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. Let’s see if the Fully Booked staff is as helpful with special ordering.

September 26

So I went to the other bookstore.

I had gone to the Fully Booked in Rockwell on Sept. 24 and looked for Clay Shirky’s book. The lady behind the counter began to rattle off other branches where the book “might” be. I then asked if she could have one of them delivered to Rockwell She said she could, and wrote my name down on a sheet of paper.

I didn’t feel secure about this, so I went to Fully Booked High Street today. I asked the man behind the counter if they had the Clay Shirky book. He sent someone to look for it. It took awhile, but eventually the person came back and said it wasn’t there. So I asked if I could order it. He said he could but it would take two months. One could not help but feel that he was deliberately trying to be discouraging even though he was polite. He made me sign a paper.

Okay, so this is how I feel. National made me pay a downpayment, and gave me a receipt. They said I would get the book after three to four weeks. Fully Booked made me put my name on a piece of paper but did not asked for any money in advance. They said it would take two months. The girl in National was clearly talking to a supplier on the phone when I ordered there. The people Fully Booked just told me to put my name on a piece of paper and made no phone calls. Who do you think would feel more obligated to fulfill their promises? Well, we will find out in two weeks or two months…

Sept. 27

First point goes to Fully Booked. ¬†Due to their deeper collection of books already available in the Philippines, they were able to get the Clay Shirky’s book from one of their branches. ¬†Turn around time, four days. ¬†I still have the paperback version on order from their High Street branch, but this will do for now.

Sept. 30

First book landed. ¬†I am starting to come to certain conclusions, but I’ll wait till the experiment is done.

Oct. 9

I could’ve gotten Cognitive Surplus at Fully Booked but they only had the hard cover. ¬†National had it in paperback, so next point goes to National Bookstore.

Oct. 13

A point to Powerbooks for using brown paper bags. ¬†Though the only plastic bag I would accept is the medium-sized Fully Booked one. ¬†Perfect size and shape for slippers or wet clothes ūüôā

Oct. 14

National called me today to tell me my book arrived.  I went there this afternoon and got it.  Experiment over.

So here are my conclusions,

Fully Booked has a deeper selection on hand, and so it is possible you could get your book right away or within four days. ¬†Some suggestions I have for Fully Booked is to have an in-store computer that your customers can use to see what’s in stock. ¬†Also, if a customer makes a special order, take a downpayment. ¬†Because this assures the customer that you will indeed import the book, and assures you that the customer will actually buy the book when you bring it in.

National Bookstore’s ordering system works well. ¬†It would be a good idea to expand your stock of books to make it even quicker to find something if your customer needs it. ¬†I can’t complain that you were able to deliver to me the book of my choice within a month, but it would even be more awesome if you were able to deliver it within four days if you had a larger selection at hand.

An excerpt from Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Well here is an excerpt I just took from a Filipino writer that describes Boracay perfectly.

* * *

You can tell a lot about a place by how it feels between your toes.

Shelley’s ten digits took great pride in their astute ability to judge an area’s character. Her left big toe was an especially thoughtful observer. By instict, it could tell within seconds of touching the ground if a place was rough, slippery, or soft. Now it decided, as Shelley waded to the shore, that this particular island required a whole different category of praise. Paradise came close, but that rang a bit trite. A happy accident, it thought – a string of mishaps, to be precise – suited it much better. If it had, it would be forced to accuse God of favoritism – something that the Catholic in it refused to let it do.

Shelley, however, was less reverent than her appendage. God, she decided, as she waded away from the outrigger that had ferried them to the island was selfish, and this was where He hoarded beauty like a secret stash of chocolate. Boracay was His kitchen drawer.