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A Different Bookstore July 19, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Books, Odds and Ends, Ramblings.

While browsing at their store in Serendra last Tuesday, I happened to make the acquaintance of Jose and Cristina Lopez, proprietors of A Different Bookstore.

The pleasure was all mine, naturally. I’ve long admired A Different Bookstore, having frequented their Glorietta branch for years now, and sincerely feel that they are the best bookseller in Metro Manila worthy of that name. Unlike others in the industry, they have resisted the temptation to transform into a chain along the mega-store variety, instead keeping their branches quaint and maintaining that botique-type charm and intimacy that is so inviting to bibliophiles of all persuasions. Rather than compete on stock quantity, they offer a better quality selection of titles in small amounts, ensuring that their offerings are always current. Most importantly, their staff are a pleasure to deal with and are knowledgable about the books they sell: it’s rare I find bookstore staff in the Philippines that can field finicky questions about books such as whether a title comes in an alternate edition with a different cover.

It is obvious to me now that the qualities I so admire about this chain of stores emanates from the owners, themselves confessed bibliophiles. Apparently, while scouring the shelves and remarking about some book or other I caught the intention of Mr. Lopez, who decided to offer me a discount card simply because I struck him as quite the avid reader. This led to a fascinating discussion about the books we were currently reading, with each of us recommending tilte after title to the other. With the die so cast, he thereafter introduced me to his wife, who regaled me with even more recommendations from her most recent reading list — an altogether different one from her husband’s, but no less interesting.

Only upon leaving the establishment, after hands were shaken and business cards exchanged (mine, anyway), did I realize that that was the most fun I had had in a bookstore in as long as I can remember. How often can a person walk into a bookstore and end up animatedly discussing books with like-minded individuals? Certainly mine was a chance encounter, but one that would not have been possible had it not taken place at A Different Bookstore and had its owners been other than who they are.



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