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Sep 27, 2016
Written By Stephanie Mayo

The Best Used Book Stores in Manila (2017)

If you’re a die-hard bookworm, we know you love a good used book store. Browsing through used book stores is a fun way to explore a new city. Plus, you never know what treasures you’ll find!

If you’re vacationing in the Philippines and spending some time in Manila, the capital city, be sure to make time for a bargain book hunt. Manila is teeming with used book stores. They can be obscure, tiny, even elusive – but with our guide you’ll find them very easy to locate! And, of course, the cheap deals are always worth the hunt.

So, what are you waiting for? Book junkies, grab your eco-bag and enjoy wandering the stacks at our favourite used book stores in Manila:

1. Jerbs Bookstore

Ground Floor, 5-A No. 2, Guadalupe Commercial Complex Makati, Burgos Corner EDSA, Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City
Open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

The super-low prices at Jerbs will turn you into a voracious reader if you aren’t one already! Head on down to this tiny shop and binge-shop for mouth-watering titles. The owner, Mang Ed, established his used book store in 1996 and is known by his many regular customers as very kind, witty, and a bookworm of the highest degree.

Mang Ed is the book prophet. If you are at a loss trying to find that soul-satisfying book, he is your oracle. Spit out a genre that you are in the mood for, and he will surprise you with very knowledgeable recommendations. Ask about your relationship problems, he probably have an answer too! Mang Ed also sells low-brow books, which makes Jerbs a warm, welcoming used book store for all types of readers.

2. Chapter IX Books and More

2nd Floor, Circle C Mall, Congressional Avenue, Quezon City
Open from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Used Book Store in Manila - Chapter IX Books and MoreImage courtesy of monumento.ph

Chapter IX Books and More is found on the second floor of Circle C shopping mall. It began as a tiny stall, but today it is a very respectable used book store. Chapter IX Books and More sells hard-to-find titles, both brand-new and second-hand, in every imaginable category: romance, contemporary, classic, suspense/thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, noir/hardboiled fiction, non-fiction (philosophy, historical, motivational, general knowledge), YA, children’s books, and more.

Unlike most used bookstores, where the books are jumbled, Chapter IX is divided into sections like a conventional bookstore. This saves you lots of time. If you’re also a magazine junkie, you’ll be happy to hear that there’s an entire section of pre-owned, imported magazines.

What gives Chapter IX Books and More the edge among its used book store competitors is the fact that it is very organized and meticulously curated. If you are looking for a very specific book, just ask and you shall receive. If the book is not available, they can add it to your personal wishlist. Once it becomes available, you are notified and given priority to buy it. So basically, you can reserve the book.

It’s also possible to order books online through their Facebook page.

Chapter IX Books and More is owned by Mr. Gary Montenegro. Like most used book store owners, he established this used book store for the intense love for literature. His used books are cheap—you can get rare finds for under $2.

3. Books from Underground

Manila City Hall Underpass
Open from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. daily

Owner AJ Laberinto decided to build his obscure used book store in the middle of the busy Manila City Hall underpass. We haven’t had the chance to ask him, but we’d assume he choose this unusual location to bring books to commuters on the go.

The location isn’t the only thing that makes this used book store quirkly. Books from the Underground only sells secondhand books, and they’re usually very hard-to-find titles. Great smelling old books decorate the walls from floor to ceiling. It’s heaven for book lovers!

Books from Underground is crammed with excitingly rare title of all genres: fiction, non-fiction, coffee-table books, you name it. If you somehow cannot find what you are looking for, don’t worry — you can request an order.

You’ll also be delighted to know that AJ is not just a book-seller, he is a true-blue book junkie. If you are looking for a book, or if you need recommendations, he’s extremely helpful—the guy has probably read all the books on the planet.

Also, if you are in no mood to browse, or have no time to dig into the titles and you are simply on the hunt for a very specific book, visit their Facebook page and browse through photographs of their for-sale books. So convenient!

4. Recto Cartimar Bookstore

Stall 31, Cartimar Building Shopping Center, Severino Street, CM Recto, Quiapo, Manila
Open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Cartimar Building Shopping Center has a tiny stall that sells second-hand books, with prices as low as under $2. The owner, Mang Greg, takes his trade seriously and wants each customer to have a pleasant experience in his little shop. He even plays music in the background for ambiance. Well, not him, literally, but he always has CDs playing—and he’s got really impressive taste. He also sells CDs, vinyls and cassette tapes.

We should mention that some of the books are super worn out. Really though, who cares as long as the pages are complete?

Recto Cartimar is a very tiny space, so you cannot really hangout there. If you are a serious bookworm, though, this is a great place to dig through an excellent collection and pay cheap. From classics to contemporary, to fiction, to non-fiction, self-help, children’s books—this used book store has it all. And, of course, a bonus music collection if you are also an audiophile!

5. Alikabooks

“Alikabok” means “dust.” Alikabooks is an apt—and fond—play on this word. This sidewalk used book store gathers dust from Metro Manila’s pollution. Alikabooks is actually found in several sidewalk locations in Manila. The most popular one is along Padre Faura.

Do not underestimate this sidewalk used book store, though. The extensive selection will definitely take you by surprise. The neat arrangements of books in the street attract flocks of bookworms. Students from nearby schools are often seen at Alikabooks, seeking to escape Manila—if only through fiction and literary adventures. In a crowded, chaotic, polluted city, Alikabooks offers food for the soul.

If you’re a book lover and happen to pass by an Alikabooks, beware – you’rel about to be late to your next destination.

6. Books Please

Ground Floor, University Mall, De La Salle University, Taft Avenue, Manila
Open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily

Used Book Store in Manila - Books PleaseImage courtesy of Books Please Facebook page

An accurate name for this place would be “Bookstore Under the Stairs,” because that’s exactly what it is. A bit unusual, but then again if Manila has a bookstore in an underpass (see #3), of course there’s also a used book store crammed in the tiny space under a stairwell. That’s just how much Filipinos love books!

Books Please is found under the university mall of De La Salle University. Students needing to take a break from academic reading find solace in the adventures and love stories found in this little nook. They sell very popular titles, too: Paolo Cohelo, Sidney Sheldon, even Nicholas Sparks.

Students also come here for their required readings and textbooks. For a minuscule bookstore, it sure offers a wide selection. Apart from books, Books Please also sells magazines and consigned DVDs. They event rent out board games.

7. Bookmates Zone

Greenhouse, A.S. Walk, Palma Hall, Roxas Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila 1101

Used Book Store in Manila - Bookmates ZoneImage courtesy of choosephilippines.com

UP, or University of the Philippines, is the top university in the country. The huge campus is also a hangout for thinkers, artists, joggers, and filmmakers—and, of course, bookworms.

The university is home to Bookmates Zone, a used book store with an awesome collection of high-quality finds. The prices are a bargain, but you will always wish you had more money in your pockets because the store is full of awesome titles (and even comics and graphic novels, if that’s your thing!).

If you are a philosopher, or a self-titled philosopher, you’re going to love the Bookmates Zone Philosophy Section. The collection is out of this world. The titles are organized in an unconventional way, but it’s ultimately more helpful. Sections have titles like “Leisure Reads” or “Books That Would Make You Smarter.”

8. Bookay-Ukay

No.78, Maginhawa Street, Teachers’ Village, Diliman, Quezon City
Open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

The quirky Bookay-Ukay is a super tiny shop along the renowned Maginhawa Sreet in Quezon City. Bookay-Ukay sells both brand-new and secondhand books, plus CDs, and even their own merch. Bookay-Ukay is a special place because you can sell them your used books or trade books in!

If you’re lucky enough to be the only customer in this tiny bookshop, then you’ll have more space to move around and browse titles in their floor-to-ceiling shelves. It’s all a jumbled mix of new books (the plastic-wrapped ones) and used books. Genres range from fiction to non-fiction, erotica, self-help, academic textbooks, biographies and autobiographies, and even comics. For such a tiny used book store, they’ve got a pretty extensive selection.

The walls are decorated with doodles, postcards, posters, and installation art, which makes the place feel like an artist’s attic or studio. On some nights they stage live bands, showcasing everything from indie to mainstream music.

The surrounding area has plenty of restaurants and eateries, and like-minded book lovers have caught on. Bookay-Ukay has become a regular hangout for bookworks and hipsters.

9. Remnants

Cubao X Araneta Center, General Romulo Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila
Phone for hours: 0927 227 3700

Remnants is an obscure thrift shop hidden away within the Cubao X center. It’s heaven for book lovers and treasure hunters alike. Remnants is also known as Remy’s Thrift Shop. It’s owned by Remy Cabaltera, who has created a time machine to the past with his collection of antique furniture, vinyl records, vintage cameras, antique toys, and more vintage stuff.

Some famous treasures have been found at Remnants. According to reporter PhilStar (Rick Olivares), one shopper picked up the first-ever English language edition of “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez $4 (or P200)!

Another famous item sold was the grandfather clock that former American President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave to his Philippine counterpart, Manuel Luis Quezon—with a signed dedication. It sold for only for a little over $200!

The book collection at Remnants is awesome. You won’t find the usual titles here, but there are plenty of hard-to-find ones. Philosophers, religious zealots, thinkers, artists, intellectuals will all love the selection. At the time we’re writing this, they have “Nietzsche without Masks,” “Existentialism: A Graphic Guide,” “Has the real Antichrist come?,” and more delicious reads in stock.

Remnants is also famous for selling old Filipino comics, ancient issues of Playboy, and other relics. If you are now itching for a look into this “time capsule-SLASH-bookstore,” check out their Facebook page and drool over the photos!

10. Hemingway Bookshop

(Ground Floor, First United Building, 310 Escolta Street, Binondo, Manila)

Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during Saturday Future Market at Escolt

This used book store mostly caters to fans of philosophy and classics—and it’s very elusive. Hemingway Bookshop only reveals itself once a month. So find out when its next scheduled opening is, and do some serious saving! When Hemingway Bookshop reappears with its impressive collection, you will want to have lots of cash on hand for a shopping spree. Besides all the serious philosophical works, you’ll find some popular mainstream authors too (think Neil Gaiman, Paulo Cohelo).

Visit their Facebook page to plan your visit and check out their uploaded photos of secondhand books that have just arrived. These are up for grabs for a 5-day reservation. Very cheap, too!

11. Booksale

In most major shopping malls

Used Book Store in Manila - Booksale

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Booksale is the king of all used book stores. It has many locations scattered across the country. It’s very accessible and convenient because the branches are always inside major shopping malls. Isn’t it awesome to stumble upon a bookworm’s sanctuary in the chaos of a busy mall? It’s like your personal library where you can take a break. Walk in, inhale the fragrance of books, feast your eyes on the stacks, and feel yourself relax instantly.

Booksale is a no-nonsense used book store. It only exists to sell books for super sale prices. They sell books as low as 20 centavos. For the price of of a medium french fries at McDonald’s, you can buy FOUR books. The most expensive are probably just under 300 pesos ($6). If you are totally broke, though, you can just settle in and read a book in the store until it closes.

From paperbacks to hard-bound books, Booksale has everything. Seriously, everything. Obscure celebrity autobiographies, religious books, the “Twilight” trilogy, the “50 Shades of Grey” collection: it’s all here. In addition to books, they also sell imported back-issue magazines from the US and UK like Esquire, GQ, and Entertainment Weekly. There’s also sell a small collection of office and school supplies.

The only drawback of Booksale is that the staff mostly function as cashiers shelf-stackers. They will pretty much leave you alone. What you see is what you get; you cannot really seek advice. But for the super-sale prices, it’s worth it!

Helpful articles and blog posts on used book stores in Manila:


We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following is our top picks of articles we think are worth reading for you to get an extensive knowledge of some of the used book stores that we mentioned above.

Care for Manila’s flea and novelty markets? You may also want to check out our list: “Top 15 markets you must visit in Metro Manila”

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About Author

Stephanie Mayo is staff writer for Mad Monkey Hostels - she is obsessed with Films, Cinema and Latte's
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