In this age of things to go and gadgets which store hundreds of books for a user to access anytime, there are still many who believe nothing still beats a hard-bound book or a paperback as a companion to while away time or to be inspired.
For this Christmas, giving a loved one a book to inspire, is one good gift idea.
It also need not be expensive or even a new book and Joseff Lee, owner of La Belle Aurore Bookshop, agrees especially with the positive turnout of clients in his bookshop.
La Belle Aurore Bookshop started as a two-shelf bookshop that Lee set up outside their home in Hernan Cortes, Mandaue City.
Registered as a single proprietorship company, Lee said he had always been fascinated with books and is a collector himself.
Setting up the business however was not a plan for Lee at first, it just developed out of need to buy cheaper books.
Being a book enthusiast, Lee grew up with his parents buying the books for him.
As he grew older he found that the books he love to read cost a lot of money and started to wonder where he could get second hand copies at cheaper prices.
“I began to look around all over the country and in the United States,” said Lee.
His US-based uncle helped him look for suppliers there.
“That was also about the time when America’s economy was in recession, people started unloading some of their things and sold them in their garage including the books,” said Lee.
Having found suppliers, Lee then decided to start a small bookshop outside their home.
“I started with about 3,000 books which I displayed in a small space about 10 square meters only. I had setup two shelves facing each other with the middle part serving as the alley for people to pick out the books they’d like,” said Lee.
From only 3,000 copies, his inventory gradually increased as he now found many other suppliers in the country and in the US.
He has romance novels, inspirational books, self-help books, books by famous authors like Nicholas Sparks, Sydney Sheldon and Danielle Steele, and books covering most interest segments of book lovers.
At first he wasn’t sure that his business concept would work.
He treated it as a good excuse to get more books for his personal collection.
People started coming, however, and soon he found himself loyal patrons who regularly come to his shop for books.
“I was pleased at the turnout and soon I had to open another outlet because some of my patrons suggested I should open in a location that’s more accessible,” said Lee.
In September this year, Lee found the perfect place for his shop at the ground floor of Honey Hunt Pension House in Junquera Street, Cebu City.
“This used to be a convenience store run by the owner of the pension house but they decided to have it rented out and transferred all their items upstairs since they are only serving their guests,” said Lee.
His Junquera outlet is bigger and can accomodate up to 9,000 books.
It occupies a good space of 38 square meters complete with shelves, a piano and a small space where he displays his personal collection.
According to Lee, he had the piano setup in the place because he plans to hold book readings in the shop regularly.
“I remembered when I was young there was a place in Guadalupe called Pitcherplant where book enthusiasts like me would go and share readings including our personal poetries. There’s none of that here now and I plan to do just that,” said Lee.
According to Lee, he had a small gathering in his Junquera shop last Dec. 1 with all his patrons. They had dinner and reading and piano performances which his patrons really enjoyed.
“They suggested we’d do it regularly so I’m thinking of doing that more next year,” said Lee.
Within three to five years, Lee said he would like to see his shop grow and soon serve drinks that will go well with the books.
To entice more patrons, Lee gives his loyal patrons the discount bag which is a reusable bag they can bring when shopping for books in his shop to avail of privilege discounts.
As of now, Lee has already hired three people to help on his shop.
An undergraduate who took up Industrial Engineering at the University of San Carlos Talamban, Lee said he was happy at what he had achieved and hoped to really succeed in the endeavor that he had pursued.