Sunday, July 08, 2007

Serendra Bookstores

So yesterday was the first time I managed to set foot on Serendra, which was opposite Market! Market! It was raining but that fact didn't take away the urban beauty of the place.

It's been years since I last visited the US. Going to Serendra reminded me of my US experiences. It's the same architecture, the same wide spaces, even the same feel. Many Filipinos don't realize it but in many ways, Metro Manila is "more America than America" with our tall corporate buildings and ever-expanding malls (the only difference with our malls is that it's designed vertically rather than horizontally, simply because we're lacking in space). I mean Makati is easily "America Town". Serendra more so.

Anyway, the first bookstore I managed to visit was Fully Booked. What can I say? When I saw it, I thought I never needed to go to the US to pillage their bookstores. It's simply orgasmic. Repeat after me, orgasmic.

The building has four floors plus a basement. I'll work from the bottom up. The basement is smaller than the rest of the floors, around half its size. When I visited, I think I saw Jaime Daez putting manga on the shelves (I could be wrong as I've never met the guy). So the basement is where most of the comics/manga items are located (including the statues and the like), as well as a shelf for science-fiction/fantasy.

Next we move on to the ground floor. Now this is really an awe-inspiring sight. It's huge and has this cosmopolitan feel. There's a huge section on science-fiction and fantasy (yes, the basement doesn't have enough space to contain them!) as well as on comics (ditto). Then there's also the fiction section in alphabetical order. It would take me hours to go through all of them. (Unfortunately I only had half an hour for my visit so sorry, no elaborate guided tour). Things to note is that it has a customer service desk as well as the cashier.

Taking the escalators up, I find myself at the second floor. It's just as big and I think the most notable section is the young adult/children's books section. It's actually divided into sub-sections. I mean how cool is that? They have enough space to divide children's books into fantasy, horror, etc. There are other sections on this floor but majority is really comprised of children's books. Again, there's a customer service desk here too (so you don't have to go all the way down).

The first thing you see when you reach the third floor is the Starbucks. Yes, the place has a Starbucks coffee inside. Because of this, the floor looks smaller than it is and lacks a customer service desk. I don't remember the specifics but this floor houses the other books you didn't find in other floors, such as Filipiniana or language.

The highest floor is what I dub the multimedia section. Upon stepping off the escalator all you see are these CD players stuck to the walls. It has a music vendor shop feel more than a bookstore as you see a wall full of CD players and earphones to which you can tune in to the music. Touring the floor, you find out it's not just music that they're selling. There's VCDs and DVDs available here too. When I dropped by, the customer service desk was vacant/under construction but it's there. There's also a room that seems perfect for presentations, meetings, or small events. There are several chairs facing a wall and I think there's supposed to be a projector behind the chairs. If there's an event or lecture to be held in the place, it's probably going to be there.

An improvement in that Fully Booked branch is that the architecture isn't confusing. It's a rectangle and the books are arranged in an intuitive manner. And there's lot of space too. The other thing worthy to note is that this is the most complete branch I've seen. Forget Rockwell, go to Serendra. My only doubts is how long Fully Booked can sustain the place. The closest example of such a mammoth bookstore in the country is the main branch of Power Books in Arnaiz St. before. It had three floors and and stocked the most complete collection of books of all their branches. (Of course I think the space is wasted on Power Books because their books don't have diversity and they're really stocking two dozen copies of the same book on their shelves. Not so with Fully Booked.) Eventually, that branch closed down and relocated into Glorietta and Greenbelt 3. I couldn't help but try to compute how much books Fully Booked had to sell to pay the rent for five floors (Starbucks probably helps defray the cost).

Then we move on to A Different Bookstore. If Fully Booked feels like this huge bookstore chain, A Different Bookstore is the opposite and takes advantage of that. It has this homebody feel and you're not intimidated. The place is only two floors and has a cafe called Bookworm Cafe. The ground floor contains the cafe as well as the typical shelves of books. Going up is what seems to be the lounge where there's a shelf of books you can publicly read and comfortable chairs and tables (you can also order from the Bookworm Cafe there.). The top floor has the customer service desk and since that's where the LitCritters are having their regular meetings, that's also where they keep stock of books from which Dean gets his readings from. (We ransacked the Amy Bender books yesterday.) It's a refreshing visit after visiting Fully Booked and in my opinion a much more sustainable business model. Although I have to wonder where majority of the revenue will be coming from: from the bookstore or the cafe?

1 comment:

Eula said...

Ho crap I must go to Fully Booked.