Book shopping’s pretty simple for me. If I see a book and if I like it, I’ll get it. If I don’t or can’t get it now, trust that I’ll come back for it and bail it out of book jail. Doesn’t matter if it comes from the usual chains, secondhand shops, bargain bins, swaps, even friends’ shelves. This mentality largely explains why I still have more than a hundred books on my backlog, but… yeah. That’s just how it is.
But even an indiscriminate hoarder like me has a few favorite book haunts, and so far they haven’t let me down. And I’ve found several awesome places in Makati City to get my affordable-book fix.
Yes, I’m talking about the “Republic” of Makati — a city more known for big business, traffic gridlock, shopping malls, sosy weekend lifestyle markets, higher food/drink/parking prices, and errant traffic enforcers.
But the Republic also has plenty of great surprises, particularly for bookworms. For the first entry in my “Bookworming in Makati” series, I’m taking you to a popular secondhand book store in a rundown mall. Ignore the pirated deebeedees, please. Straight to the books!
Always on sale!
I remember Booksale started out in Makati Cinema Square as a small kiosk on the Lower Ground Floor, right in front of mainstay Chinese restaurant Emer’s and near the escalators. It was manned by two girls who were always too busy with their gossip and cellphones to mind the customers. It’s also where I first learned that you could actually get a trove of used books for PhP500 (US$11) and under.
More than a decade later, Booksale’s still a tenant in the renamed and rundown Makati Square, and offers the same low prices for its “pre-loved” goods. However, it has moved to its own store near the Pasong Tamo entrance, just one floor above its original location.
Not surprisingly, Booksale remains a mecca for bargain hunters. Every trip to the MCS branch yields hard-to-find and offbeat-humor titles, magazine back issues, books that last saw action when I was a kid (complete with yellowed pages and that old-book smell), and popular series like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey (yuck). The small space is filled to the ceiling with printed material, so be prepared to crouch, dig, mess up the staff’s tight and tidy book organization, and make your way around fellow book-hunters. They even have school supplies, greeting cards and a gift/trinkets section, reminding me of the defunct/’80s-era BF Homes Parañaque store O’Smile.
Selection’s pretty good for most categories, although I prefer browsing at the store’s middle and back sections, where the hardbounds, comics/graphic novels, humor, sci-fi, biography, history and mystery titles are. It’s where Jen and I found David Rose’s Sexually, I’m More of a Switzerland; more recent Booksale MCS trips showed us Beer Makes Daddy Strong by Andy Riley, and the hilarious XXX Porn for Women: Hotter, Hunkier, and More Helpful Around the House!.
It can get overwhelming for first-time visitors; the sheer sight of books piled on floor-to-ceiling shelves once made me feel that slight sense of panic familiar to bibliophiles inside huge book stores. I suggest reserving at least an hour or so to really browse every section and dig through every pile. One tactic I used in the mid-’00s to get around that overwhelming feeling was to browse Booksale’s online catalog, order my books via e-mail, and have them delivered to my chosen branch for payment and pick-up. I don’t think Booksale offers this service anymore, but maybe you can ask.
Another thing: Booksale MCS (or, actually, any Booksale branch) isn’t the place to go if you’re not ready to purchase ASAP. I’m not sure if you can have a book reserved and then come back for it later, but I do know that the titles you see one day probably won’t be there on your return visit. So if you really want them, buy them immediately, if you can. I passed on a hardback version of The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency because I found it overpriced even by Booksale standards, then changed my mind a week later and went back — and I couldn’t find it on the shelves anymore.
So. Looking for your next reads at (mostly) budget-friendly prices? You just might find it here at Booksale. Happy hunting, bookworms. 😃️
Ground Floor, Makati Square, Pasong Tamo/Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Philippines