Readercon Filipino Friday #3: Being a reader in the Philippines

 
Filipino Friday!This meme is hosted by the official Filipino Reader Conference site to promote the 1st ever Filipino Reader Con on September 14th.
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How hard or easy is it to be a book lover in the Philippines? What are some of your frustrations as a Filipino reader? And what are the positive aspects of being a reader in the Philippines?

Being a book lover in the Philippines used to be very difficult. Yes, even more difficult than it is now. Trying to find books a few years ago, especially if they’re published in the US or Europe, used to be a chore. But with the advent of technology, it’s getting easier to buy books online and have them shipped here, and I know a lot of people who do take advantage of this when they can’t find the books they’re looking for in local stores.

My problem is I don’t have the capability to buy books online, so it’s more frustrating for me than most. I have to wait for the local stores to get the books or to wait weeks for the stores to order the books for me. It’s fortunate that stores do have better selections nowadays, so I have yet to be too frustrated to have to resort to asking a relative or friend to buy something online for me. Yet. 😛 Also, the almighty Local Tax imposed on imported books scare me. And corrupt customs officials scare me even more.

Availability issues are especially true for me when it comes to obscure science fiction and fantasy titles.  My only consolation is a certain store tries very hard to maintain a good selection for this genre. (Thank you, Store-That-I-Shall-Not-Name-But-You-Probably-Know-Which for carrying Sanderson titles!)

Sometimes when stores do have what I’m looking for in stock, they would only have one format available, so I either have to shell out too much for a hardbound copy of something I only wanted a paperback of, or to settle for a paperback of something I wanted a hardbound copy of. When I’m really unlucky, they would only have a box set in stock. Then sometimes when they do stock a hard-to-find title, I look at the price tag and find out I can’t afford it.

I can’t entirely blame the stores, though. (Look at what happened to Borders, and that’s a book store giant!) Books are not the foremost form of entertainment in this country, so they have to ensure that their business is viable and that most of their stocks are titles that are sure to sell. I’m still glad we have more options now, but the local stores’ ability to balance availability, variety and affordability seems to still be a hit-and-miss affair.

I came up with a personal strategy to cope with problems that I experience and to ensure that I can somehow get my hands on most of the books I want. I maintain a priority list of old and upcoming releases that I must purchase, either because they’re part of a collection or something that I just have to read as soon as possible. These are the books that I pester the book stores’ customer service personnel about or that I tend to ask fellow readers for “sightings in the wild” for.

I also have a list of books that I would like to read sometime, but are not priorities. These are books that I wouldn’t mind scrounging around in book bargain bins for or wouldn’t mind just borrowing from someone. These are also the books that make me wish the Philippines can afford to put up and maintain many good public libraries, but that’s too much to hope for right now.

I recently learned from friends who have traveled abroad that books are still generally cheaper here, and that’s a relief. It’s also great that local stores are starting to become more adventurous with their marketing strategies, what with the recent series of author events, which benefit both the store and the readers.

Reader Con Badge


Previously, on Filipino Friday:

FF #1: Introduce Yourself
FF #2: Your reader’s story

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10 thoughts on “Readercon Filipino Friday #3: Being a reader in the Philippines

  1. Patrick says:

    There’s only one way to make stores expand their selections even more: increase the demand. More readers = more books! And this is what the ReaderCon hopes to attain right? 😉

    Can you really not name that store? 😀

    • Meann says:

      I don’t know why WordPress thought you were a spammer!

      Anyways, as for the store… you know, it’s the one that has its main branch in Bonifacio High Street. 😛

  2. Chachic says:

    Yep, getting books used to be harder. I remember there was a time when I’d always ask friends and relatives who went to the States to buy books for me. Now I can buy the books that I want even if they’re not available here because of online bookstores with free worldwide shipping. 🙂

    Have you tried the special order system of Fully Booked? They don’t charge extra for that. Just let them know if there’s any book that you want that they don’t have and they’ll order it for you. It takes a couple of weeks (even months) for the books to arrive but at least you don’t have to pay extra. No downpayment either.

    • Meann says:

      Haha! Thanks, Jinky! It only works properly when I exert strong willpower. I have a hard time resisting books. 😀 Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  3. aloi says:

    hahahaha — love the frustrated gif! 🙂 i feel for ya!

    why can’t you buy online? need a credit card? or just because you’re not comfortable with the idea? there are some very trusted sellers out there (http://www.avalon.ph comes to mind).

    and then bookmooch — if the sender says it’s a gift, you shouldn’t be taxed!

    i find though that while books are cheaper in the philippines, they are still expensive when you think about the cost of living.

    come pop by my blog when you get chance! happy weekend!

    • Meann says:

      I have a CC, but I’m not comfortable activating it for online purchases (I might go overboard!) Yup, I know of Avalon, though they don’t have most of the books I’m looking for.

      You’re right about the book prices, they definitely are still expensive if you think about the cost of living. Especially when you want to buy a hardbound book! o_0

  4. Millette says:

    Hi Meann!

    I’ve been reading your blogs and loving them:) Thanks so much for the insights. Need them to remind me that everything I am and do now, I owe to books.:) Now it’s just so hard to pick up a book just for the pleasure of reading it. Long story. Pero binubuhos ko ang frustrations ko sa school library namin. We often go overbudget, but we make sure that the shelves are spilling with books. So fulfilling to see kids flock to the library, even if they’re just reading Horrible Histories and Dork Diaries…for now:) Ecxited about the Reader Con on the 14th. Where do I get details?

    More power to you, Meann! I miss our Twilight discussions. Those were the days (parang 3 years ago lang naman:)))

    • Meann says:

      Millette! I miss you too! Grabe, I wish all libraries are like your school library. I might never leave! 😉

      Re: ReaderCon: Just go to filipinoreadercon.tumblr.com for details. Hope to see you there! 🙂

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