In a virtual tour of the Mt Cloud Bookshop on Yangco Road, Baguio City, co-owner Feliz Lim Perez showed and proved how such a company can cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic that the store is facing in the first three months of the year closed kept curfew.
The tour, part of the Philippine International Literary Festival’s My Book, My City series and sponsored by the National Book Development Board, recently aired on Facebook and YouTube. In it, Perez presented the uniquely named areas of the shop, which have been immortalized in many FB, Twitter and Instagram posts.
The long table in the middle is dedicated to âDeath by Cutenessâ, stationery for the little ones and the not-young at heart. The shelves âLessons Not Learnedâ with historical and social science titles, âImagined Worldâ for fiction, the children’s room that almost looks like a bookstore, the importance of children’s literature for the Perez sisters Padma and. emphasizes Feliz.
There are shelves for books on photography, art, design, theater and textiles, special shelves for works on the cordillera, spiritual and meditation books with a fishbowl on which the visitor can train his mind to relax, a shelf exclusively for Jose Rizal and a another with the title “Never again” with books on martial law and fascism.
The sisters grew up surrounded by books. âWe loved bookstores,â Perez said, remembering her mother, the writer Adelaida Lim, parking them at Bookmark’s on Session Road as children while she went to the market and other errands around town.
The sisters always dreamed of having a bookstore. They had specific ideas about how they wanted to continue. When they opened Mt Cloud in 2010, there were no bookstores selling brand new books in Baguio. They were all used books. But they realized that setting up a shop included tasks like inventorying, among other things. They had to learn that.
When the store opened, all of her friends stopped by at the restored Casa Vallejo where she was staying. Some worried how the shop would survive given the rise in popularity of e-books. Perez said, “Physical books seemed to be on the way out, but we managed to survive that.”
She and Padma decided to move to the larger Yangco Road with a garden so they could “do more things” and get rent at the same time. Mt Cloud is part of One Yangco Hub, which also includes a cafÃ©, bike shop and a children’s and youth creativity center.
She hoped the locals would support her for most of the store’s existence, but the many people who came to the casa location were tourists who took photos and selfies but didn’t bother looking at the books . What she did was put up a tip jar to encourage visitors to give tokens to staff and keep the shop going.
One night a thief broke in and ran off with the glass. But since the staff had only emptied it hours earlier, the thief only got twenty pesos. No books have been stolen, although concerned writers called to see if their titles had been carted away.
Mt Cloud prides itself on having a strong focus on Filipiniana, unlike other stores that only have one token shelf for it. Cloud, as it is affectionately known, was able to sell the entire back catalog of historian William Henry Scott until no more copies of his books were found.
It organizes the community’s monthly open mic âThird Monday from the Sunâ, which encourages reading and performing poems. The event gathers from just two artists up to 20 participants. The author says that sponsors who were introduced with Candy Gourlay or Jessica Zafra sometimes turn into writing workshops on site. “Interesting projects are being built,” said Perez.
She refuted the impression that volumes of poetry do not sell. She said, âPoetry sells. People who find our books of poetry hug them when they approach the cash register and say, ‘I was looking for it.’ “
Mt Cloud makes it a rule not to wrap your goods in plastic. Perez said, âWe want the customer to know the book before they take it home. People are welcome to browse and read. “
The shop gradually reopened last July and focused on booming online sales. Perez said, âIt’s been great that everyone is buying books, so we’re finding better ways to sell books. It’s a process. “
Authors, illustrators, editors who drop by and have their names appear on the covers of the books for sale are entitled to a cup of coffee in the house. It is one of the personalized little details that ensure that this shop will last for the long term.