Bookstores in Manila

Since I’m pretty familiar with the major bookstores here in Manila, I thought I’d do a post about them. I thought I’d concentrate on the three major ones, namely National Bookstore, Powerbooks and Fully Booked. I think it’s pretty obvious which of three is my favorite, given the number of times that I mention it here but more on that later.

National Bookstore (NBS)

NBS has been in the book business for a couple of years now. According to their website, they’ve been serving the Filipino people for 65 years. They have the most number of branches, I think they have branches in all the malls. The thing about NBS though is they’re not really just a book store. NBS is a bookstore in the Filipino definition of the word – a store that sells books and school supplies. As a result of that, the books that they usually have are bestsellers. If a book just came out, NBS might have it but they will not restock if it doesn’t become popular. That’s a shame because NBS has the cheapest book prices out of the three. What my friends and I usually do is when we have a book that we want to buy, we check first if NBS has it and if it’s not there, that’s when we go to the other bookstores.


I’m not sure if this is still true but Powerbooks is actually owned by NBS. Powerbooks is their specialty bookstore arm, meaning Powerbooks concentrates on distributing books and not school supplies. They have a couple of other items such as notebooks, post-its, laptop bags but mostly they have books. I remember when Powerbooks first opened, I’m not sure exactly where’s the location but I remember being amazed at a bookstore that has several floors and serves coffee. That was the first time that I encountered such a place. Anyway, Powerbooks used to be my favorite bookstore because they have better stocks than NBS although their prices are higher but nowadays, they don’t have as wide a selection as I’d like. They do have a good Filipiniana section though so if you’re looking for books by Filipino authors, Powerbooks is the place to go. I remember buying some books there for my American cousin.

Fully Booked

Fully Booked is by far my favorite out of the three. I even applied for a job there when I was unemployed! Out of the three bookstores, Fully Booked has the best selections. A lot of the books that I’ve bought from Fully Booked aren’t even available in the other two bookstores. Pricing is still a bit higher than NBS but Fully Booked really improved the availability of books here in Manila. I have the Fully Booked discount card but it’s just 10% off. I used to think 10% off is nothing but then if you buy a lot of books, it accumulates. Or you can wait for a Fully Booked branch to have a sale and books would be 20% off. That’s what I do sometimes, wait for a branch sale and then have books transferred to that branch just so I can get 20% off when I pick it up. I’m really a fan of Fully Booked. I love their flagship store in Bonifacio High Street and could just spend hours browsing through the books that they have.

These are just my thoughts about the three bookstores. I’d love to hear what you think of them as well or tell me about your favorite bookstore and why that’s your favorite. πŸ™‚

19 thoughts on “Bookstores in Manila

  1. Of the three bookstores, I am loyal to Powerbooks.
    I know that quality of the book selection at Powerbooks has become worse (the most drastic change came last year), but I cannot trust Fully Booked.
    They used to have a promo when they got Neil Gaiman to come for the first time, where customers who purchased a NG book gets a special stub for autograph-signing. I bought a book to avail of this promo. Then at the last minute, FB changes their promo mechanics and made the autograph signing open to the public (FB customer or not).
    Nainis ako kasi siyempre bumili ako ng libro tapos klarong klaro iyong promo mechanics tapos hindi tinupad.
    Kaya ayan, siguro mga 6 years akong nagsumpang hindi bibili sa FB.
    Now, the only things I buy at FB are those that are at 80% off and that one time when I was so excited to see a new Murakami book out that only FB had that I bought it without thinking of my promise to myself.

  2. Really Camie? I didn’t know that! They have that promo again now because Neil Gaiman is coming here again. They require people to buy 2k worth or Neil Gaiman’s books in order to get a book signing pass. I was seriously considering buying his books just to get that pass. But now that you mentioned what happened, I don’t want to do it anymore. 2k is a bit much pa.
    Sayang naman, you don’t buy in Fully Booked anymore! But yeah I know that one bad experience can really affect you. I was a loyal Powerbooks customer a couple of years back but then I noticed that Fully Booked’s stocks are a lot better so I switched. Fully Booked is also pretty efficient about reservations. I can have a book reserved in advance and they’ll let me know once they have the copy. I can also have books transferred from one branch to another. I usually have it transferred to the SM The Block branch and I just pick it up there because that’s near my house.
    Haha sorry I’m promoting Fully Booked again. But I really get where you’re coming from.

  3. Baka tl;dr na ito >.<
    Hay Chachic, alam ko rin yang promo na yan… At pinagiisipan ko talaga kung bibili ako o hindi. 2k pa ngayon iyong minimum purchase, dati any Gaiman graphic novel will do.
    But what I said about Fully Booked is really true.. Dati meron pa ngang yahoogroups tungkol dyan. When I get home, I’ll look for it. I even remember writing a really long complaint letter to the groups expressing my outmost disappointment with FB’s so-called professionalism.
    Anyway, going back to the new promo, I might join the promo to have another shot at getting Gaiman’s autograph for the following reasons:
    (1) I really am a fan
    (2) When FB suddenly changed their promo before, they allowed me to refund my purchase (after the staff getting an long long earful from me). This makes me think that if they renege on their promises this time, I can again try to get a refund.
    But I also understand why you like Fully Booked. FB really has great stocks of books. My friends also rave about FB, actually. And sometimes I get sorely tempted to buy from FB. Pero wala, hindi pa humilom ang sugat na dala ng nakaraan (drama).
    Naawa lang ako sa Powerbooks. Halatang hindi na naalagaan iyong business nila. 😦 At halata ring talong talo na sila sa FB.
    Sorry for my long comments. I guess I really have a lot to say about this topic.

  4. Re: Baka tl;dr na ito >.<
    Haha buti naman they allowed you to refund your purchase! I’d do the same thing if it happened to me. I’d go beyond that, I’ll email Neil Gaiman mismo. He reads his mail, check his most recent blog entry. He posted an email from a Filipina ranting about the 2k policy. In the end, he said that it’s Fully Booked’s event so they have the right to set rules.
    I’m really thinking about that promo, until March 10 na lang. I want to have my Stardust graphic novel signed! Pero dilemma ko naman what to buy. Iniisip ko 1602 (I’ve read it pero borrowed lang from a friend), American Gods (haven’t read) and Anansi Boys (haven’t read). I don’t know though! Haha what do you recommend?
    If you finally get your books signed, maybe you can move on and be a Fully Booked customer na rin? πŸ˜› Long comments are okay! My replies are long too.

  5. Re: Baka tl;dr na ito >.<
    I wasn’t able to reply pala about what you said about Powerbooks. Yeah, hindi na talaga naalagaan. I don’t know why, it didn’t used to be like that. Sayang kung ayusin lang nila sana, they can compete with Fully Booked. Speaking of competing, all Neil Gaiman books are 30% off in Powerbooks haha feeling ko strategy because of the Fully Booked promos tied to Neil Gaiman’s visit here.

  6. I was just wondering about bookstores in the Philippines. Cool post.
    I remember being amazed at a bookstore that has several floors and serves coffee.
    That’s how I felt when we first immigrated and I went into the first big bookstore here (I think it was Barnes & Noble).
    But the bookstore biz is hard — all the smaller stores get eaten up by the big chains, and they in turn are being eaten away by amazon.
    My favorite local bookstore was in our mall. It was called Gene’s Books and wasn’t that big, but it had a great selection of SF&F and a loyal clientele. I was sad when they closed; but it was a family biz & the owner preferred to close than sell to a chain.

  7. Re: Baka tl;dr na ito >.<
    Oo nga eh, buti pinayagan.. I found the old e-group. Hindi pala long complaint letter sinulat ko HAHAHAHA. More like short and sad and mopey email.
    We were still in college back then, and I don’t think I had the nerve to wrote to Neil Gaiman himself. Shy pa ako nun. :p
    Pero it is true that it’s FB’s event and they have the right to set rules (and earn money from the event).
    On what to buy… I’ve only bought Neverwhere among his many novels and I didn’t like it. Hehe. So if you ask me I’d stick to the graphic novels. :p What about M is for Magic? Medyo kiddie siya pero okay naman. πŸ™‚ Actually nabasa ko rin ung ibang parts ng 1602 dati, gusto ko nga rin bilhin sana.
    Yes, if I get my books signed this time, I’m sure I’ll be able to move on and have faith in Fully Booked again.

  8. Re: Baka tl;dr na ito >.<
    A Different Bookstore also has that same promo as Powerbooks. Haha. I didn’t even know that Powerbooks is selling Gaiman books at 30% off.
    Hindi ko rin alam kung bakit nagkaganoon ang Powerbooks. 😦 May pag-asa pa kaya sila? FB seems like they have a huge warehouse. Powerbooks parang laging walang stock. 😦

  9. Re: Baka tl;dr na ito >.<
    More like short and sad and mopey email. -> Hahahaha! That’s okay, when I look back at my old entries here in LJ, hindi ko rin maisip na ganon pala ako nung college. Haha.
    I have the Stardust graphic novel and the novel, I liked both naman. A lot of people have recommended American Gods that’s why I’m curious.
    I hope you get your books signed already! So you can be a Fully Booked customer na rin. πŸ™‚

  10. It’s a good thing the bookstore business has improved here in the past couple of years. I really think Fully Booked had a lot to do with it. Their flagship store in Bonifacio High Street has a Starbucks in it. I’ll post pictures, I know I have them in my files somewhere.
    I was sad when they closed; but it was a family biz & the owner preferred to close than sell to a chain.
    This reminds me of Meg Ryan’s role in You’ve Got Mail. I remember she owned a local children’s bookstore but had to close because Tom Hank’s chain was building in the area. I know what you mean about local bookstores, I’ve been hearing a lot about them. If I lived there, I probably would buy my books from a local bookstore as well. I really like Mysterious Galaxy and I wish I could’ve gone there when I passed by San Diego.

  11. Ive switched from powerbooks to fully booked because of the selection.. and the proximity na rin hehe. most of the time nga fully books have what powerbooks dont usually stock.
    but, for several times na, a different bookstore has been a savior kasi pag naubos na stocks sa fully booked, they still have it there. experience ko lang ah. most recent is when i bought fire sa a different bookstore sa serendra. ang bilis naman kasi maubos ng stocks sa fully booked. hehe di naman ako masyado nauupdate kaya hindi ako nakakapagpareserve πŸ™‚

  12. I think most of us started with Powerbooks because it was the first specialty bookstore here but since they don’t update their inventory as much as Fully Booked, we’ve all switched.
    Inggit ako, you leave in Fort! So near Fully Booked High Street! Haha pero temptation, okay na rin siguro na malayo ako and pag sale lang nagpupunta. Yeah, ganyan nga A Different Bookstore, may mabibili ka pa pag wala ng stocks sa Fully Booked. I will update you! Haha check out my blog from time to time. A Conspiracy of Kings, March 23! Pa-reserve ka na, they only ordered 10 copies daw.

  13. Oo kaya magpa-reserve ka na! Kahit itawag mo na lang. Hahaha nagulat din ako nung nalaman ko na 10 lang. Titingnan siguro nila kung maraming may gusto tapos order na lang uli pag naubusan.

  14. Hahaha at least maganda yung area mo for jogging! Kung dyan din ako nakatira, isasama ko pa si Minnie or Cosmo while jogging. Tapos stop by Fully Booked. Panalo.

  15. naku. katamad ng aso ko. hindi ko mapapatakbo ng matagal. haha
    kung labrador pa sya siguro gaya nung dati naming aso pwede pa. yun sinasama pa ng dad ko before pag nagjjogging eh. masipag. si coby ko kaya buong hapon tulog. gaya nalang kahapon. hahaha

  16. Hahaha okay baliktad tayo, ako yung tamad tapos si Cosmo yung masipag tumakbo. Feeling ko si Minnie pag tumatanda ganoon din. Big dog kasi. Ako parang si Coby, laging tulog or nakahilata sa kama at nagbabasa. πŸ˜›

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