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Bob Ong asks: Is National still a bookstore without the books?

A bestselling Filipino author has lamented how the country’s oldest and largest bookstore chain has become radically different from what Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have known it to be.

A bestselling Filipino author has lamented how the country’s oldest and largest bookstore chain has become radically different from what Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have known it to be.

“Narinig sa mga batang foreigner sa loob ng pambansang tindahan ng libro: ‘If this is a bookstore, where are the books?!’ True story,” said Bob Ong, pseudonym of an incisive and funny author who sold a quarter of a million books.

While National Bookstore, which started in 1942 by Jose Ramos and his wife Socorro Cancio, has expanded its network to 240 branches nationwide, the number of shelves devoted to books has shrunk substantially in the past years while school and office supplies and other presumably fast moving items have taken majority of the store space.

National obviously has to make this makeover to survive the digital shift where consumers have not only changed how they read books (digital versus print) and how they buy them (online versus store).

Sad.

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