Thursday, March 5, 2009

What's happening to this bookstore?

In my ongoing/agonizing determination to not buy any book this Lenten season, I've consciously stayed away from bookstores. If ever I do venture into one, I make sure that I bring someone who would be willing to block my path to the cash register, so it's been a while since I last visited the PowerBooks branch in Greenbelt. (This isn't an easy feat considering that I pass by this store every day.)

PowerBooks isn't a happy place anymore to go to. The number of books have diminished. There's barely any new stock. The coffee shop is gone. There are only a handful of customers. The place just feels old and gloomy. I wasn't even challenged to buy anything since I've seen these books before, way way before. There's lots of empty spaces but not enough seats where you can conveniently browse the books. PowerBooks has now primarily become something it wasn't meant to be -- it has turned into just a meeting place. I recently observed a group of girls who were obviously waiting for someone. They were just standing near one of the shelves, texting and talking to one another. They didn't even bother to check the titles. Really a pathetic bunch.

I hope this trend somehow reverses itself. I have too many fond memories of PowerBooks just to see it wither away (like Alemar's). I still remember the anticipation I felt every time I went to their first branch at Pasay Road. Since it was a bit far from human traffic, the people who frequented it were really going there to buy, or at least browse, the books. I bought all my Ian McEwan novels from that branch. Then it transferred to Greenbelt 3, and, for a time, it was all good. People were buying their books, planners, and whatnot. The 2nd floor always had an event. I also met my soulmate in PowerBooks, and for that I will be forever grateful. (If this person had not decided to stay and while away the time reading because I was running very, very late, we would never have met.)

Perhaps it's just plain economics that's "killing" PowerBooks. People aren't silverfish; we can't live by eating our books. And it also doesn't help that there's a newly opened FullyBooked nearby. I hope PowerBooks stays for a few more years. I still have frequent buyer points I haven't redeemed yet. Hmmmm.... If I use these points to get myself a book, am I breaking my no-book-buying-for-40-days rule?

  • Update: It's been 9 days since Ash Wednesday. Number of books bought: 0
  • A bookstore decides to give away their books. Apparently, giving the books away is a lot cheaper than returning them to the suppliers.


Stepford Mum said...

Hi Peter! I have to agree with you here. The last time I went to Powerbooks GB it was kind of like a ghost town. No new stock (but this may have been in the middle of the book blockade) and what was on the shelves was dusty with neglect. I too have fond memories of the original Powerbooks on Pasay Road. For what it's worth, they probably won't close down as this store is a sister company of the National Bookstore chain. I think part of what is killing their sales is the fact that National is opening more Bestsellers stores, which attracts the same market as Powerbooks. Sad.