Hello friends, I hope you’re doing great today!
Welcome to another part of our Pandemic blog series, I have Clara and Kate here today to share how the pandemic affected their book purchasing habits.
This is so interesting to read because I know that a lot of us were affected too! Both of their articles highlighted the rise of online book shopping here in the Philippines. I’m sure if you’re one of us, you can definitely relate.
Read on and check out how the pandemic affected their reading and book purchasing habits!
Book Purchasing and Reading Habits
I’ve been a bookworm all my life. I ended up graduating from Library and Information Science because I needed to shift courses and thought, I love to read so might as well be a librarian (I ended up learning that being in LIS wasn’t just about loving books but that’s a story for another time).
Books have always been a major part of my life and when Inah posted asking for readers to share how the COVID-19 pandemic affected my reading life, I decided to share my experiences as a bookworm who suddenly left Metro Manila and went home to General Santos City when the first lockdown was declared.
When the first lockdown was declared in March 2020, I wasn’t expecting it to last this long. I thought everything would go back to normal by June. My parents convinced me to fly home and spend the lockdown back home in Gensan, as opposed to staying in the condo in Manila. So I hurriedly packed my bags, picked a few books to take with me, and flew home a day before the nationwide lockdown was implemented. I definitely did not foresee that I would still be in Gensan two years after the first lockdown.
Pre-pandemic, I used to frequent physical bookstores like Fully Booked and National Bookstore. It’s my way to unwind because something about just walking around a bookstore and looking at all the books relaxes me. Sometimes I leave with a new book (or two or three) or compare prices of physical books versus the Kindle counterpart.
When the lockdown happened, I initially took it as a chance to catch up on my reading backlogs. I was unemployed, stuck at home, and had plenty of time. I somehow managed to make a dent on my reading list but the itch to shop for books was still there. Unfortunately, my not so small town’s bookstores had a ~sad~ selection of books (aka not the books I want), so I turned to online shopping.
I started my online book shopping with browsing Fully Booked’s website. Their website wasn’t something I really bothered with pre-pandemic because I preferred going to the actual stores and interacting with the staff but a girl has book needs and the website’s selection was pretty good so there we go.
I started with buying some cookbooks because being stuck at home had me revisiting my rusty cooking and baking skills. I then moved to buying books on my wishlist or books from my usual genres of choice. I was somehow content with just Fully Booked’s online shop, and then I discovered Instagram book shops.
Instagram bookshops was an unexpected rabbit hole I fell into. It started with my brother mentioning how he and his friends stayed up late for a mining bardagulan (basically, a book auction) at Bookends & Beginnings and I decided to check it out. They had an interesting selection of books that aren’t carried by mainstream bookstores so I found myself waiting for their next drop and trying to call “mine” on some books that caught my eye.
From there, I discovered other bookshops like Bookstore in the Rye which was another bookshop that had regular drops with people trying to bid “mine” first (MY COMPETITIVE SIDE WAS ALIVE AND KICKING jusko!). I also discovered other Instagram bookshops that offered books that are available at mainstream bookstores but at cheaper prices (I also learned terms like “remaindered copies”, “store pullouts” and such) so my buying habit was alive and well. Before I knew it, I found myself needing a new bookshelf for all my purchases.
In terms of reading habits, I noticed that while I still enjoy reading physical books, I now tend to use my Kindle more because of the convenience. I can bring it with me to work and I can read in bed even with all the lights out.
My reading range has also diversified somehow thanks to the titles I discovered on bookstagram as well as titles that are recommended by Filipino book bloggers that I follow. I found myself reading books outside of my comfort zone and more books by authors of diverse backgrounds (authors of color, lgbt authors, authors from marginalized backgrounds).
I can say that my tastes have changed and I found myself enjoying genres that I didn’t expect to enjoy as well as discovering different writing styles. I dipped my toes into Chineses sci-fi by reading short story compilations and my goodness it was so different from the few western sci-fi stories that I have read. I found myself adding more translated Asian works to my Kindle wishlist.
I’m not really sure how to end this as this was mostly me rambling, but thank you for giving me the chance to share a bit about my reading and book shopping habits during the pandemic.
Clara is a graduate of Library and Information Science from the University of the Philippines. You can find her bookish updates on Twitter.
How The Pandemic Affected My Book Purchasing Habits
Hello friends! Thank you very much to Inah for having me on her blog, and all of you, her valuable readers, for checking out my guest post!
When Inah sent out a call asking for Filipino bookish content creators to discuss their thoughts and feelings on how the pandemic changed their reading habits, I knew immediately I wanted to talk about how my spending habits had changed. This topic had already been on my mind for quite some time following the closure of several physical Fully Booked stores here in the Philippines, and I wanted to share my thoughts and just generally pick the bookish community’s brains.
The pandemic caused four major changes in my book spending habits.
Shift to online
The first and most obvious effect of the pandemic was a shift to online retailers. Given the Enhanced Community Quarantine in 2020 where all but the most essential stores were closed down, going to a physical bookstore was impossible. Luckily, most book retailers had seen the writing on the wall and had quickly provided easy ways to continue shopping online. Of course here in the Philippines, platforms like Shopee and Lazada rose to fame thanks to “budol” culture.
For non-Filipino readers, budol is a Tagalog word referring to a scam perpetrated by con artists, wherein said con artists would pretend to be in need of money urgently in order to swindle large sums out of their victims. Na-budol, the verb form of the word, therefore came to mean being swindled.
However, in modern day parlance, budol has come to mean an impulse buy, an unplanned purchase. When we say, “na-budol ako”, it’s come to mean, “I impulsively bought this item without having budgeted for it”. And thanks to bookstores’ presence online, books have definitely found their niche within Filipino budol culture.
Even when restrictions began lightening up, people still tended to make their purchases online. Of course with the pandemic distinctly not being over, people still tend to opt for safety—not to mention convenience—by purchasing their books online. Of course, nothing beats stepping inside a physical bookstore. But at least for me, going to a bookstore is now saved for either special occasions, or moments that I do actually have to be outside like grocery shopping days.
Pivoting to e-books
This one is in line with the shift to online retailers. While I hate the thought of supporting The Online Retailer Owned By a Space-Faring Billionaire That Shall Not Be Named – unfortunately, this website is the place with the widest range of e-books at affordable prices.
Prior to the pandemic, I didn’t really read a lot of e-books. Those that I did tended to be e-ARCs. However, once bookstores became a bit more inaccessible, I fully and wholly embraced e-books. The Kindle app on my iPad got a lot of use thanks to sales that often saw books dropping to as low as $4.99 or even the coveted $0.99 price slashes. And of course, the rise of shit hitting the fan in 2020 onward made the prospect of escaping into romances where a happy ending was guaranteed all the more appealing.
Self-published romance – which can largely be found in e-book form – has been an utter godsend during the pandemic. Self-published and indie SFF hasn’t been resting on their laurels either, with plenty of excellent releases coming out or pre-pandemic releases receiving fresh new facelifts.
The rise of secondhand bookshops
The pandemic really underscored the importance of saving money and being more financially aware. And honestly, one of the better ways to keep buying new books while still saving up your money is to check out secondhand bookshops. Here in the Philippines, secondhand bookshops have been on the rise on Facebook and Instagram – including the famous group Secondhand Books Philippines, which is also more often than not a source of tea rather than a source of secondhand books, lmao. Secondhand bookshops can also be found aplenty on Shopee.
If you have books you don’t like anymore or don’t envision yourself rereading, selling them is a good way to get yourself more bookshelf space and help the books that weren’t for you find a new home!
Does this mean it’s over for physical bookstores?
I personally don’t think so! After all, nothing really beats the experience of going to a bookstore and browsing through the shelves for your next favorite read. But physical bookstores are definitely going to have get creative and leverage on everything that changed about people’s spending habits in order to keep up.
Kate is the blogger behind Your Tita Kate. You can follow her bookish adventures on Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok.
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Let’s Chat! 💬
How about you? How did the pandemic affect your book purchasing habits?
Enjoyed reading this! Personally, I feel like much of my spending habits haven’t changed because whatever small amount I saved on physicals was spent on a Scribd subscription (since I fully embraced audiobooks since the pandemic began). And also? Thank the stars for the convenience offered to us by online bookstores (ehem, Fully Booked, paki-galaw ang baso!) 💖
Good for you! Mine was more on e-books. Getting myself a Kindle proved to be a good decision. but I have to say that I really purchased a lot of physical books last year. So I’m really trying to cut back on that this year.
I went to just buying online. And I did start listening to more audiobooks. Now I can go to the bookstores again, though!
A lot of us shifted through online bookstores too, and I’m really glad that our local bookstores had the chance to expand their available catalogs to meet our demands. Although, it was still a challenge for all of us, readers and booksellers, because the pandemic also had a negative impact on global shipping so our stores here couldn’t keep up with the new releases.