Cheap reads: Five secondhand bookstores for your next book binge

There’s one under a bridge.

Secondhand bookstores can be the middle ground for cash-strapped book-lovers and students to avoid copyright infringement and at the same time satisfy their appetite for books.

For university students, for example, buying expensive text books - likely to be used for only a year or two - has become a thing of the past as “book-alikes” (unauthorized copies of books)  have become especially rampant.

Some book-alikes may have been produced with the permission of the author (several university departments do this), and in other cases, authors themselves waive their copyright.

Still, many instances fall under copyright infringement, and applies to all kinds of books, not just academic textbooks.

This is a challenge to local book publishers and authors as they’re prevented from benefiting financially from their creative work and investments put in the creation and distribution of it.

The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines says there is an ‘exhaustion of copyright’ - the copyright owner has exhausted his right to control copies of his work - upon the first sale of his work to a buyer (provided the buyer obtained his copy legitimately).

If a buyer decides to donate or sell his copy to a second-hand book collector, he may do so without fear of infringing on copyright.

Here are our five picks for online and brick-and-mortar secondhand bookstores to avoid copyright infringement:

  1. Book Duke

‘Selling new and used books without the royal price tag’ is Book Duke’s come-on for book lovers, and, like many of the online book sellers in this list, operate through a ‘first-comment, first-(re)serve’ basis.  Prices could go to as low as P 18 and new uploads are done 2-4 times a month. Book auctions are also occasionally held, according to the Book Duke’s Facebook page. With the proprietor based in Davao, transactions can be done both online and, for Davaoenos, in-person meet-ups in Abreeza Mall.


2. Books from Underground

Tucked away in Lagusnilad Underpass in Manila, Books from the Underground gives off a hole-and-corner feel but has consistently ranked among the best hidden troves in the metro for rare but affordable books. Its vast collection include European literature, true crime, and the social sciences. Not to be outdone by its online competitors, Books from the Underground also has a Facebook page where its collections are uploaded and where transactions are also done.

3. Porch Reader Philippines

With its wish list, a pre-order facility, and an integrated online presence, it’s no wonder Porch Readers Philippines’ Facebook page has racked up quite the following online. Possibly the second-hand bookseller with the most professional online operation, Porch Reader Philippines has quite an organised online shop; the product display on the Facebook page is integrated to the online reservation and payment system in its main website, making it extremely customer-friendly.  Apart from the wide variety of books, the products can be browsed by category and filtered by price. Aside from Facebook, Porch Reader Philippines is on Twitter, Instagram, and Google+.


4. Book Snoop

Book Snoop is a 2-year old online bookstore mainly doing transactions through Facebook, and based on its page biography, its claim to fame is hard-to-find books and non-fiction titles ‘left out by other book sellers’. Book Snoop uploads its selections only once a month so book-lovers would do well to put them on alert. A 10-day reservation period is the standard (unless otherwise stated) - quite more flexible than others -  and Book Snoop aims for transparency in disclosing the book conditions.


5, Bookay Ukay

A landmark as iconic as the food hub of Maginhawa itself, Bookay Ukay stands out among the rows upon rows of cafes and restaurants in the street. Started long before the rise of malls along Katipunan, Bookay-Ukay has no doubt become the go-to, no-frills bookstore for university students in the area, with unbeatable prices and a homey feel. Bookay Ukay is also present on Facebook, but observes a one-day holding policy only and can be contacted via text message or Viber.