Sometime last year, I went on a self-imposed book-buying ban. I told myself that that ban will be lifted only after I made significant headway and crossed out at least 12 books (equivalent to four themes or so) from my long reading list. Predictably, the ban was forgotten after a few months: I made the mistake of logging in to my eBay PH account and visiting the pages of my trusted secondhand book sellers. Before I knew it, several entries’ worth of books were paid for and shipped to my apartment.

“Ban” my gorgeous fat ass.

While I’m no stranger to buying books online or hoarding good reads while traveling, I’ve never tried buying books from international online sellers. It may sound strange to non-Filipinos, but the thought of exorbitant customs fees was enough for me to avoid online book retailers. I know a lot of people who picked up their books from PH post offices and had to settle fees that were around half the books’ actual total cost. (Has the Great Book Blockade of 2009 been extended?)

Basically, I was prepared to raid local bookstores and sites for the rest of my life… until Johnny Air came along.

I first heard of the company last year through Cecile van Straten and her blog (Chuvaness), then through Jill of Kikay Exchange just a few weeks ago. The timing was perfect: I needed to buy some books from Amazon.com that weren’t available locally, and I certainly had no desire to set foot in the nearest post office again.

Cecile and Jill have already written about Johnny Air’s process, so I won’t delve into that anymore. What I will say is that the waiting period of 7 business days isn’t bad at all (purchases made on April 5 PH time; pick-up was today, April 14), Analyn was prompt with her replies, and you’ll get a text message from your chosen pick-up point once your package arrives — that message already includes the address, operating schedule, total amount and contact numbers.

Amazon.com virgin no more! 😉

I bought two books worth $29.08 (equivalent to around PhP1,300), inclusive of US tax and shipping/handling fees to Johnny Air’s NY office. When I picked up my package at Johnny Air’s Makati branch, I paid a little over PhP800 for shipping from NY to PH. That brings the total cost to PhP2,100. Most bills for local bookstore purchases would definitely be much higher, and the best parts are that I didn’t have any customs-related headaches and I wasn’t kept waiting for too long (then again, I claimed my books on a weekday).

However, for some folks, 2 grand for books is too much, despite the fact that Johnny Air’s rates are lower than those of other shipping/delivery firms.

PhP834.90 shipping fee for two books; $6 a pound with $5 delivery fee. Best to bundle all your online purchases to save on shipping costs.

The shipping computation.

Many people rely on Johnny Air for their electronics purchases and have no handling-related complaints. I even saw a 40″ flatscreen TV ready for pick-up at the Makati office! (Tibay mo, chong.)

Obviously, I’ll be using Johnny Air for future online purchases. 🙂

And of course, I couldn’t wait to open the package when I got back home.

The Great Reveal… not.

Don’t worry, these two new babies will appear in The Reading Spree soon.

Thanks, Johnny Air!


Note: This is not a sponsored post.