As the famous Chinese proverb says, “a book holds a house of gold”, and in Japan, you might find yourself a house of gold for just a ¥100.
Japan has a reading culture. People read silently in cafes, on trains, in front of the book rack of convenient stores. And they read all sorts of things too: novels, manga, magazines…… prints are far from dead in Japan and book-publishing is still a really solid industry. However, books aren’t necessarily cheap, and this is where the 2nd Hand Book Stores come to the rescue!
Photo: Hajime NAKANO on FlickrThere are many used book stores in the country, and they are excellent places for you to pick some up for a fraction of the price of a new one. Of course, that is if you don’t mind the books being pre-owned, but it’s hard to complain when the books are as cheap as 100yen. Considering most new books are released around ¥1000 to ¥1500, being able to own the book with a heavily knocked down price (usually between ¥100 to ¥800) is a blessing for anyone who appreciate reading.
Photo: Antonio Tajuelo on FlickrInside one of these shops, books are categorized by genres then organized by author/publisher names. Novels, manga, education books, kid books, photo-books… The collections are updated surprisingly regularly too, thanks to people consistently selling their books to the stores (more on that later). Big chains also transfer their stocks among branches to keep the selections fresh for the customers.
Photo: Toomore Chiang on WikimediaWith that, there are two important things to keep in mind if you want to take advantage of these used book stores:
- Visit the store often to see the latest batch of books they have received.
- If you see a book you’re fond of, pick it up sooner rather than later. Or else someone else might get it before you, or the book might simply be sent to a different branch.
Photo: Toshihiro Gamo on FlickrSelling the books back, on the other hand, depends on how you feel. Each book you bring to the shop might net you around ¥5 - ¥30, depending on how new or popular it is. So essentially, you might be trading in 20 books in exchange just to pick up another ¥100 print. To some, getting a little return on books they no longer read and are taking up space is “better than nothing”. To other, the value might be so little that they’d rather keep the books or give them away. This really depends on your own perspective.
Photo: Antonio Tajuelo on FlickrOne more tip I’d like to share you with is:
- If a shop has multiple copies of the same book, check all of the prices first as they might differ depending on its condition or occasionally mere oversight.
The 2nd hand book stores are great places if you’re looking for a new cheap read. It’s also an option to search for old books that are no longer in regular book shops. If you appreciate reading, want to collect some Japanese books, or even just to browse around some cheap options, make a visit to a used book store nearby and bring some affordable houses of gold!