National Book Store Is Back and They’re Bigger and Better

National Book Store with logo

I am a Laking National kid. Growing up, I would visit the National Book Store (NBS) branches in SM Southmall and Alabang Town Center.

I remain an avid reader but things have changed in the world of books. Bookstores shrank in size and many people shifted to reading Facebook posts and tweets.

Then in 2020, rumors began spreading that NBS is closing down its physical stores to shift online. It became so serious that the bookstore had to release a statement denying it. Two years later, it announced that the Greenbelt 1 branch “will be permanently closing on December 31.”

It’s easy to believe that bookstores are a thing of the past, but I visited the SM Megamall branch, one of NBS’s biggest stores, on a weekday on what was presumably an off-peak hour and was surprised at how many people were looking at books and school supplies.

NBS was affected by the pandemic, like most businesses, but the opening of their One Bonifacio High Street in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig earlier this year signaled their comeback.

The new branch was soon followed by Shangri-La Plaza and Robinsons La Union. Six stores are scheduled to open this year, such as in SM Sto. Tomas and SM Sangandaan. The bookstore, which also specializes in school supplies, aims to open branches near academic institutions to make it easier for students and families to access. There are also plans to expand outside Metro Manila.

The Greenhills branch, meanwhile, is set to be renovated sometime this year. Art Bar, NBS’s store that specializes in arts, crafts, and creative experiences, is opening in SM Aura.

The expansion is not surprising when you consider that school is back and many are going face-to-face.

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“Our recovery started with the first back-to-school season of the pandemic last year, but it wasn’t quite the same because it was a bit biglaan for everybody. Nobody was ready for it to just happen. So from that point on, we spent the next year on everything: merchandising, laying out the stores, signages, and maximizing cashier capacity per store, which is always a challenge during back to school,” said Adrian Ramos, NBS’s president, in a one-on-one interview.

This means ensuring that even existing stores are reconfigured to make everything easy to find. If you’ve been to these branches, you’ll notice that they are brighter and have bigger signs.

“Because everybody’s affected by or hurting from inflation, we’ve made it a lot easier for customers to find products in the price range that they’re looking for,” Ramos explained.

The only thing less is the price

National Book Store was founded in 1942 by Jose and Socorro Ramos. Socorro, fondly called Nanay Coring, wanted to make books and school supplies accessible to everyone. For example, college textbooks that would sell for P300 when imported would only be P75 when NBS reprinted them. They truly lived up to their early tagline: “Where the only thing less is the price.”

The same still applies today. Each item is organized and color-coded. For example, items color-coded as orange are the lowest price of a particular category. Yellow tags are for low-priced items that are good value. Green means they’re new in stores, while blue are bestsellers. When it’s pink, it means it’s a sulit item. When an item is on sale, they are clearly labeled.

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“We’re trying to project value. We’re really helping our customers with their budget, with their value choices. Because of where we’ve been through, we’re sort of going back to our core. My lola was always about making things as affordable as possible for Filipino families. That’s what we are leaning back to,” the president shared.

He added, “What’s important for our customers is affordability, range of options, and accessibility. We have worked so hard over the last year to be ready for this back-to-school season, to make sure that that’s what our customers will find in National Book Store.”

This is clear when I visited the SM Megamall branch. Families and even barkada were happily looking at notebooks, ball pens, and books. It’s a rush that I missed now that I am working online. Now, I’m just happy that there is a new generation of Laking National kids who are enjoying the thrill of finding their next favorite pen or read at NBS.

Panalo ang Balik ‘Skwela Mo!

National Book Store is making the back-to-school season even more exciting with the Balik ‘Skwela Super Sorpresa Raffle.

Each store is raffling off a Xiaomi 55″ Smart TV, a Xiaomi Air Fryer, and a Xiaomi Redmi Smart Watch. That’s right, each branch will give these products to lucky winners.

To join, all you need to do is shop at any NBS branch nationwide. You get one raffle entry for every P100 spent on any item. Fill out the raffle coupon and drop the portion with your information into the dropbox.

Entries are accepted until September 15, 2023 only. The raffle draw will be held on September 29, 2023.

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