| General Books |
Through the leadership of Socorro Cancio-Ramos and the late Jose Ramos with their family, the National Book Store has evolved from its humble beginnings into the biggest bookstore chain in the Philippines.
Before the Japanese occupation in the Philippines, the first branch of National Book Store located in Escolta, was already selling supplies, text books and some GI novels. The company then shifted to trading soaps, candies and slippers when war broke out, since strict book censorship was implemented at that time. They peddled the merchandise they bought from wholesalers to smaller retailers.
The war ended, but not before the whole area of Escolta, including the shop of the now famous Ramos couple, was burned down. Through their persistence, the couple were able to rebuild their business in form of a small "barong-barong" in the corner of Soler and Avenida Rizal just in time to catch the post-war business boom. Using their door as a counter, the couple sold textbooks, notebooks, pad paper, and pencils. Since only a few shops sold schools supplies at that time, business went very well. The timing of National Book Store's opening was strategic to welcome the first postwar school year.
In 1948, the Ramoses experienced another trial when Typhoon Gene destroyed their shop, soaking all their merchandise. Adversity forced the couple to work harder. There were days were the couple would only sleep for three hours, spending the rest of their day at work. Their dedication paid-off, as they were able to construct a two-storey building with a mezzanine, a building that would become their retail store for years.
In the 1950's, the company started making greeting cards and post cards which feature the culture and sights in the Philippines. It was a brilliant move for the company, to increase its earnings while promoting the traditions and sights in the country to the international market. This would lead to the company's acquisition of the franchise of the international card brand, Hallmark. The company also began a publishing program, with assistance from international publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Lippincott, Addison-Wesley, and others.
After five years of negotiation, the Ramoses were finally able to acquire a piece of prime property owned by the Guerreros in 1955. And in 1963, the construction of the Albecer Building. The building was named after the couple's three children -- Alfredo, Benjamin, and Cecilia. This nine storey building would be the first of the many that they would build.
The Ramoses expanded their business beyond Avenida, Rizal. The company opened a new branch on Recto Avenue, a place were many students hang-out at that time. And in the 1970's, they were able to acquire space in new shopping centers in Cubao and Makati. National Book Store continued its steady growth and by the 1990's were already operating over 50 branches across the country.
An institution in retail
In 1996, National Book Store decided to change its logo and hired a Singapore design company to recreate the retail empire brand. The company logo evolved to become a modernized script, with more solid stripes through the use of a bolder shade of red. With the new logo also came the company's new image. The store layout was changed where color-coded signages were used in addition to the logical merchandise display providing a more customer-friendly atmosphere in the shops.
Over sixty years in operation and National Book Store has grown to be one of the largest bookstore chains in the Philippines. With 2,500 employees in over 80 branches, the company remains as a driving force in the Philippine industry.