Secondhand and used bookstores around the world have been struggling during the Pandemic just like most other retail businesses. But they have the added burden of replenishing their book stocks. Many used booksellers rely on customers bringing in books to sell. As an antiquarian and secondhand bookseller, I can attest to the supply chain problems. In my case, I have not had access to the usual book sales, estate sales, library sales, or individuals selling their personal libraries.
A recent advertisement for Book Off, a popular used bookstore chain in Japan, features Book Off staff pleading with customers to sell them their used books so that the booksellers can replenish depleted stock. The employees “stand solemnly in two lines along a near-empty Book Off aisle with hands clasped in front of them. Each one says a phrase in which they plead with the viewers to sell them books. It starts off with a line from one of their previous commercials featuring child actor Kokoro Terada, which goes, ‘Book Off nanoni hon nee jan!’ or ‘This Book Off doesn’t have any books!’ ”
Staff go on “to list off the kinds of books customers might have in their home that they could sell, shouting together ‘Hon!,’ or ‘Books!,’ with each description.
“The types of books start off ordinary, like, ‘Books you’ve read already’ or ‘Books that won’t fit on the book shelf.’ But as more and more types of books are listed off, they get funnier and funnier. ‘Books left behind by the girlfriend you forgot about!’ ‘Books you thought would make you look cool!’ ‘Books someone could not stop talking about but didn’t interest you at all!’ ‘Books you still didn’t read even though you were stuck at home!’ ”