Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Take a virtual tour of Tokyo's bookstores

I have been aware of AbeBooks for years as a source of used and out-of-print books. According to Wikipedia it is an e-commerce global online marketplace that offers books, collectible art, and ephemera from sellers in more than fifty countries. Amazon bought the company in 2008.

Photo by Colin Laird, "A Tour of Tokyo's Bookshops"
Again Wikipedia: "AbeBooks' users can search across the listings of many independent bookstores thereby allowing small, independent players to compete with bookselling superstores. Some of the member bookstores offer their books online only, while others also maintain a regular storefront.

"Booksellers upload their inventory data to the AbeBooks database, specifying information about each book including condition and price. Prices are fixed (with US$1 being the minimum) and there are no auctions. Items available range from the extremely common, where there might be hundreds of copies listed, to truly unique manuscript material worth thousands of dollars. In addition to books, magazines, audio books, journals, illustration art, vintage photographs and paper ephemera are offered."

I was not aware that AbeBooks offered something like a virtual tour of Tokyo's bookstores. The Jimbocho district is the center of Japanese bookselling with something like 175 shops and stalls in the area. While most of the books are in Japanese, a dedicated browser may find a rarity in English or a picture book for which the text is not crucial.

I spent a delightful afternoon one day poking around Jimbocho's shops, and taking AbeBooks's virtual tour may be the next best thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment