Your Ultimate Guide to Second Hand Bookstores in Manila
by Pearl Bacasmas, March 14, 2019 2:47pm
Art by Allen Mirambel
Manila is teeming with used book stores. They can appear obscure, tiny, even elusive, but with our guide, you’ll find them easy to locate. Besides, cheap deals are always worth the hunt. Book junkies, grab your eco-bag and enjoy wandering the stacks at our favorite used bookstores in Manila:
For the independent supporter:
Formerly in E. Rodriguez Avenue, Una Morato now calls Ortigas it’s home. It's run by three writers—Adam David, Harris Guevarra, Carljoe Javier—who wanted to put up a space that would cater to a collaborative space for artists, mostly writers, filmmakers, musicians, independent publishing and local literature. Una Morato’s carries over 100 local titles, as well as artworks, CDs, shirts and other merchandise by homegrown artists.
Una Morato is at UNIT 201, Amberland Plaza, Jade Drive Ortigas Center, San Antonio, Pasig City.
Another creative hub in the heart of Makati is the newly re-opened Kwago Book Bar. With a renewed space and a more curated inventory, Kwago has grown from a small book bar to a community of readers, zine makers, authors, and artist-publishers. Check out their curated shelf, a two-month publication exhibit, where they will invite an individual to curate 15 publications under a particular theme.
Kwago Book Bar is at Warehouse 8-A, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Chino Roces Ave., Makati City.
If you’re in the lookout for the widest range of Filipiniana books, then head to Solidaridad bookstore. Owned by National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, Solidaridad has been selling Filipiniana books since 1965. Aside from books by Filipino authors, they also sell titles from international authors and humanities titles in Southeast Asia. They also have Eastern and Western nonfiction collections and international magazines.
Solidaridad is at 531 Padre Faura St, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila
For the Mall-goer:
Booksale is the king of second-hand books in Manila and the most accessible of all because of their convenient branches inside major shopping malls. Pro tip: their bestsellers are usually carefully organized up front. The store doesn’t mind if you set up camp on the floor and browse for hours.
See Booksale’s list of branches here.
Biblio is the newest player in the secondhand book business in the metro. They call themselves the purveyor of pre-owned books and a bookshop that also doubles as a coffee shop. One of Biblio’s unique campaign is their “Blind Date With a Book” project, an exchange of books individually hand-wrapped in brown paper and carefully secured with jute twine. What makes each item unique is the handwritten note that gives clues about what kind of story to expect and what emotions you’ll feel from reading the book.
See Biblio’s list of branches here.
Chapters & Pages
If you’re into pocketbooks and vintage finds, Chapter & Pages must be your go-to secondhand bookstore. Neatly stacked and organized, this kiosk holds great classic titles and paperback copies. You’d be surprised what titles are hiding between their neatly stacked shelves.
See Chapters & Pages’ list of branches here.
Books For Less
Aside from their worth-it warehouse sales, Books for Less is a den of immaculate second-hand books with great trade books, coffee table books, and first folios to boot. You can easily spend longer in here than what you bargained for as the books are so densely stacked that it can take a while to find the one you want.
See Book for Less’ list of branches here.
For the adventure seeker:
Recto might be a sketchy place to buy secondhand books (hello, photocopies!) but in a tiny stall in Cartimar, Mang Greg takes his trade seriously and wants each customer to have a pleasant experience in his little shop. If you’re a serious bookworm, this is a great place to dig through an excellent collection for a low price. Classics, contemporary, fiction, non-fiction, self-help, children’s books—this used book store has it all. And a bonus music collection if you are also an audiophile.
Recto Bookstall is atCartimar Shopping Center, Severino st. CM Recto, Quiapo, Manila.
Maginhawa Street is famous not only for having several restaurants but also for other establishments, like the well-loved palate cleanser Bookay-Ukay. The bookstore gives off a vintage artist vibe, with floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked full of books. They also hold a buy, sell, and trade for those who are interested. If Maginhawa Street gets too crowded, visit Bookay-Ukay’s sister store, BookFellas.
Bookay-Ukay is at #78 Maginhawa St. Teachers Village East, Diliman. Quezon City; BookFellas is at #114 J.P. Rizal Street, Brgy. Milagrosa, Project 4 Quezon City.
Tucked away in the bustling Cubao Expo, The Reading Room is famous for the Soulcard Reading session conducted on their second floor. Unknown to many, their first floor is a bookshop, boutique, and a gallery for creative minds looking to unwind from the busy street of the city. The store boasts a good collection of fantasy and mystery novels for 200php or less!
The Reading Room is at Shop #39, Cubao Expo (former Marikina Shoe Expo), Cubao, Quezon City.
For the commuter:
If you’re passing through Guadalupe MRT Station, head on down to Mang Ed’s tiny shop and binge-shop mouth-watering titles for a very affordable price. Jerb’s Bookstore was established by Mang Ed in 1996 and is known by his many regular customers as kind, witty, and a bookworm of the highest degree. His store sells low-brow books, which makes Jerbs a warm, welcoming used bookstore for many readers.
Jerbs Bookstore is at 5-A No. 2, Ground Floor, Guadalupe Commercial Complex Makati.
What used to be a tiny stall is now a reputable used book store. Chapter IX sells hard-to-find titles, both brand-new and second-hand, in every imaginable category. The store is divided into sections like a conventional bookstore. An edge among its used book store competitors is that it’s very organized and meticulously curated. Plus, you can reserve and order books through their Facebook page.
Chapters IX Books and More is located on the second floor of Circle C Mall, Congressional Ave., Quezon City.
Since we're talking about books now, let me tell you about Books from Underground in Lagusnilad. Book prices range from 20 - 300 PHP lang. pic.twitter.com/jyAdZjvQPE— millennial of manila (@MillennialOfMNL) October 25, 2017
Owner AJ Laberinto built his obscure used bookstore in the middle of the busy Manila City Hall underpass. The location isn’t the only thing that makes this secondhand book store quirky. Books from Underground crammed with excitingly rare title of all genres: fiction, non-fiction, coffee-table books—you name it. If you’re not in the mood to explore Manila, you can request an order through their Facebook page and browse through photographs of their for-sale books.
Books from Underground is at Manila City Hall Underpass (near Bonifacio Shrine).
For the before and after class time-killer:
Found under the stairs of Taft’s University Mall, Books Please is the go-to hub of students from nearby schools needing to take a break from academic reading find comfort in the adventures and love stories found in this little nook. They sell popular titles: Paolo Coelho, Sidney Sheldon, even Nicholas Sparks. Apart from books, Books Please also sells magazines, consigned DVDs, and rent out board games.
Books Please is at G/F, University Mall, DLSU Taft–Manila.
Over at UP Diliman, Bookmates Zone boasts a wide variety of bestsellers and rare books that would leave you gagging for more. Browse through their awesome collection of high-quality finds and even comics and graphic novels for a student-friendly price.
Bookmates Zone is at Greenhouse, AS Walk, Palma Hall, Fernandez St, Diliman, Quezon City.
Intramuros does not run out of interesting shops and boutiques tucked in its historical walls. Tradewinds Bookshop is more than just a cultural shop. They specialize in art, history, and social sciences books. Most of these titles are limited editions and focus on the Philippines and the Asia Pacific for only 500php.
Tradewinds Bookshop is at 744 Calle Real, Intramuros, Manila.
Did we miss your favorite secondhand bookstore? Let us know in the comments below!