Several years ago, I used to browse at a little secondhand bookstore in Colon Street in Cebu City where all kinds of used books are sold from P5 to 25 pesos each.
I would enter the store as soon as it opens and leave when they close for lunchbreak, eyeing the old volumes hungrily while carrying cartoonfuls of used books to be brought all the way home.
Whatever book would catch my interest I would add to my pile, sneak reading the first few pages, hug it to myself and go on browsing through the shelves minus one hand.
As pile grow higher and I would drag the whole pile with me as I go around the bookstore. Finally, I would sift through my choices and make a selection as to what goes to the counter and what goes back to the shelf. Usually, very few goes back to the shelf.
At bookstores, there are books that I would have loved to buy but I would only look, touch and caress through its cellophane cover, sigh and put back on the shelf because of the extorbitant prices but at secondhand bookstores, its a different story.
In secondhand bookstores, people almost never pay attention to the other people who accidentally step on their feet or hit them with their elbows as everyone is concentrating in browsing and looking for interesting finds.
I’ve always considered pleasurable spending unmarked hours browsing or rummaging in a secondhand bookshop because aside from the wallet-friendly prices, you can sample a few pages to see if you like the book or not.
You never know what treasures you might meet on the used books shelf as you rummage among old volumes of encyclopaedia to thrillers to self-help manuals and psychology books, romances, health and sports books and even diaries as old as time.
This is how some of my favorite books came into my life. I came from a book-devouring family and I had grown to love books since I was in grade three.
Imagine my excitement a couple of weeks ago when I found that all used books are on sale at Victoria Plaza priced only P35 each!
Forget about browsing comfortably as people squeeze past you all over the small aisles that are literally jam packed its hard to find a spare inch of space to step on. Books are squeezed on the shelves, in cartoons and strewn all over the floor.
Within a few days, I splurged and spent the bulk (I hate to admit three-fourths) of my mid-year bonus on second hand books that I vowed never to step inside the store again while the book sale is still going on. However, I am powerless everyday as my feet would lead me there “just to take a look at the new arrivals” but always leave with my hands full and my pockets empty.
The other day, I promised to go there for the “really one last time” before I’ll be tempted to spend my transportation allowance and will be forced to walk to and from work. Again, cartoons and cartoons of newly-arrived books flooded the small area and before I knew it, I broke my promise and again held on to a pile of my new selections. I was kneeling on the floor digging into a cartoon when a thick volume from the stack on the table fell on my head. Before I had time to dodge next book, a whole avalanche of hard-bound volumes came crashing on top of my head and all over me.
Thankfully, people were so engrossed browsing that I did not get much attention. I learned what it felt to be painfully “buried underneath a pile of books” but I manage to come out of it alive, albeit a few hundred pesos poorer and with a sprain on my toenails.
Think I’ve shied away from bookshops because of that? You’ve got it wrong, I’m on my way to another book sale.