Book Off

29 Dec

There is a popular used bookstore chain in Japan called “Book Off“.


Actually, they buy and sell more than just used books and magazines…they also buy and sell used CDs and video games.

The name of the store might sound funny to you…but it makes sense to Japanese people because “off” in this sense means (in Japan) “discount” (as in: a certain percentage  off of the price).

This company has become so successful that they now have stores that sell other various used things. For example, they have stores called “Soft Off” that buy and sell used computer software. Likewise, there’s “Hard Off” for used computer hardware, “Garage Off” has car parts and accessories, and “Hobby Off” is a used hobby shop.

They have a few other types of shops, as well…but you get the idea.

While I was out yesterday, I passed by this “Book Off” branch and thought I’d write a blog post about this chain of stores:


With the world’s economy the way it is, stores like these and ¥100 shops, like “Daiso” (click here to read my post with a video of “Daiso” at the end), are becoming more popular.

So I looked at the Book Off” website, and was surprised to learn that they have overseas branches in 韓国 (Korea), Canada, Paris, New York, Hawaii and four stores in California!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I learned that the Japanese book store 「紀伊国屋書店」 (Kinokuniya) has branches in many countries including Singapore, Australia and America, and the Japanese ¥100 shop 「ザ・ダイソー」 (The Daiso) also has branches in Canada, America and other countries (click here to read my post about Daiso‘s overseas stores).

Have you ever been to a Japanese store such as Book Off, Kinokuniya, The Daiso, or another one in a country outside of Japan? Is it the same as the original store in Japan?

2 Responses to “Book Off”

  1. tokyo5 December 29, 2008 at 9:11 pm #

    Feel free to comment on my site anytime.

    So, Book Off and Kinokuniya sell alot of English books in America? I was wondering about that. Book Off in Japan doesn’t usually have any books in English.

    Kinokuniya in Shinjuku has a floor of English books…but they’re expensive. I don’t buy books in English anymore (whenever I read a book, it’s to try to improve my Japanese reading ability)…but if I did, I’d buy them at Tower Books in Shibuya. Better prices.

    I heard that Uniqlo has stores in NYC…I forgot about that.
    I shop there often…affordable.
    But you’re right, they’re style is simple (Japanese people like simple, unflashy styles).


  2. toranosuke December 29, 2008 at 8:36 pm #

    I regularly spend time in both Kinokuniya and BookOff here in NY. I think it would be fair to say that with the exception of the fact that the majority of the books are in English, and the prices in USD, these two stores are pretty similar to their Japanese counterparts.

    The ground floor of the BookOff used to be filled with manga, Japanese CDs and DVDs. A small selection of regular English language books was upstairs, while the Japanese books and magazines were downstairs. They did a reorganization a few years ago, though, and the main floor is now mostly English books, with a smaller manga selection than before now located upstairs; downstairs hasn’t changed, and feels just like a regular BookOff.

    The Kinokuniya is quite special, I think. The basement is the Japanese books section, though they have a large section where they sell stationery, Japanese paper by the roll, and other such things. The ground floor is taken up by English language books about Japan and Asia more widely, by magazines, all sorts of Japan-related knickknacks and chotchkes, and the like. The second floor has a Japanese-style panya/cafe, as well as art books (in English), manga (also in English), CDs and DVDs. Not all that similar to the Kinokuniya of Japan, I suppose, when you really think about it, but, if not for the high prices, a place that could really serve as a mecca for Japan-lovers of all stripes. While all the Japanese-language books, magazines, etc are imported and thus quite expensive, they also have a selection of English language books about Japan unrivalled in any non-specialty bookstore.

    We also have Uniqlo here in NY, but while it’s very cool to have a major Japanese brand like that here, and the styles they sell are fairly commensurate with what they sell in Japan, there are two problems. One, Uniqlo sells pretty basic stuff in Japan as well; this is hardly the place to help you maintain your “fresh off the streets of Tokyo” image. Two, everything is American cut, which is a major disappointment for me, because I think I feel better and look better in clothes with an Asian cut – a slimmer, curvier look for men than American clothes generally do.


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