Like many Filipinos, everything changed for me starting in mid-March of this year, when Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine. It was a confusing and challenging time, as travel was restricted, classes and work were suspended, and businesses closed temporarily — including National Book Store.
I was very concerned for our employees and their families, given the unprecedented situation we found ourselves in. My grandmother, Nanay Coring Ramos, has always espoused the value of malasakit, so we extended as much support as we could to our employees.
“ When our online stores first resumed operations, we saw the sales of inspirational, self-care, and fiction books increase, as people finally had more time to read. They also shopped for books on baking, gardening, and other activities they could do at home. I think this is a testament to the power of reading, of how it can help us learn and nurture our passions. ”
We also strived to assist our public hospitals and frontliners, providing them with the plastic covers, laminating sheets, and other materials they needed to create makeshift protective equipment, as well as the basic supplies they use like pens and markers.
Of course, I was worried about my own family’s safety, too. I am incredibly grateful that we have all stayed safe and got to spend more time with each other over these past few months. I also took this opportunity to focus on myself and read some escapist and inspirational books, including The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, Leadership Strategy and Tactics by Jocko Willink, and American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. It was also comforting to go back to Ambeth Ocampo’s books about history, particularly his bestselling Looking Back series. Apart from these, I enjoyed trying out some delicious recipes from the K-Drama Cookbook by Lily Min and Reggie Aspiras, 50 Best Baking Recipes by The Maya Kitchen, and Baking Secrets by RV Manabat.
Lots of people also took this time to go back to doing the things they love and to try new hobbies. When our online stores first resumed operations, we saw the sales of inspirational, self-care, and fiction books increase, as people finally had more time to read. They also shopped for books on baking, gardening, and other activities they could do at home. I think this is a testament to the power of reading, of how it can help us learn and nurture our passions. Artists also ordered more materials to continue working and creating at home, and students shopped for the school supplies they needed.
Today, as we slowly move into the new normal, I can’t help but recall how National Book Store started, with all of the adversities and challenges our grandparents faced — from the devastation of war to a powerful typhoon — and how they continued to push forward and never give up. That is the same mindset we practice and draw strength from today.
We have now reopened most of our branches across the country, with stringent protocols in place for the safety of our customers and employees. We have also strengthened our e-commerce presence with a revamped website, www.nationalbookstore.com, and our official stores on Shopee and Lazada having more books and supplies added every day.
We also made shopping from home easier with Text to Order and Chat to Shop. Customers can send a text message to a nearby NBS branch, or a private message to our official Facebook page, and a personal shopper will prepare their orders for pick-up or delivery.
To better meet the needs of our customers, we have adapted our product offerings with relevant and innovative items. We have safety essentials, including face masks, face shields, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and even floor stickers for enforcing social distancing in offices, establishments, and public spaces.
One of the biggest opportunities we have is the online distance learning and homeschooling that will be practiced by most students for the coming academic year. When my kids first started doing distance learning, they faced some technical difficulties and had to get used to this entirely new approach, but they have been slowly adjusting to it. Apart from that, my kids and I miss our traditional back-to-school shopping, where we would go around our favorite National Book Store branch, choose their school supplies, and complete their checklist. This time, I had to get all of their supplies by myself. But thankfully, I was able to shop safely and get everything they needed.
These issues are shared by families across the country, so we wanted to make their new shopping experience as easy, seamless, and safe as possible. We aim to help parents create the best learning experience for their kids, and for students to be equipped with all of the supplies and tools they need to study effectively from home.
To do this, we consolidated our vast selection of school-required books and homeschooling and distance learning supplies in a dedicated section of our website. Customers can shop there and have all of the items they need delivered straight to their doorstep.
Our Homeschooling Bundles make shopping for school supplies easier and more affordable, with sets of supplies packed in pouches and bags, starting for as low as P149. We also created Draw & Write notebooks, which come in two sizes, with pages that have a blank upper half and ruled lower half. These can help young learners practice creative learning at home, and can be used as a notebook, diary, or composition book.
“ We are currently working on new ways of bringing Filipino readers closer to their favorite local and international authors through exciting virtual events. ”
We also offer furniture that can make for a better study or workspace at home, including laptop tables, desks, and office chairs, among many others, as well as electronic accessories they might require, including USB flash drives, earphones, power banks, charging cables and adapters, and more.
Whether you visit our branches, shop from home via Text to Order and Chat to Shop, or shop online on our website and our stores on Shopee and Lazada, you can safely and easily find everything you need from National Book Store.
This situation has truly been a life-changing experience for all of us, and I’m sure we each have our own takeaways from it. Personally, it has taught me the value of resilience and courage, and reminded me to not take anything for granted. And as an entrepreneur, it showed me the value of being innovative and adaptable, and of making the most of every opportunity. In fact, we are currently working on new ways of bringing Filipino readers closer to their favorite local and international authors through exciting virtual events.
Despite the challenges we face, I remain optimistic that our country will overcome this pandemic. And while there is still uncertainty over what lies ahead, we remain committed to our role as a partner for every Filipino’s lifelong learning, creativity, and self-expression.
Edited by Büm Tenorio Jr.