SJP: 立ち読み.

While places like Barnes & Noble may invite customers to sit and try out a novel, most places would probably frown on customers reading their stock for free. In Japan, that’s exactly what people do.

Go by anywhere that sells manga — bookstores, Tsutaya, or any convenience store anywhere — and you’ll very likely bear witness to 立ち読み (tachiyomi, lit. standing-reading), which seems to be part of the culture here. Teens and adults alike will go to these stores and read entire volumes of manga (or magazines) cover to cover, and no one discourages them from doing so. As a Westerner, it’s baffling and vaguely annoying — just buy the damn thing, jerk! — but it’s so prevalent that nobody from here seems to notice or care. The manga industry here seems to be pretty stable, so I guess it’s not really hurting them.

The funny thing is that, in a country where media tends to be more expensive than elsewhere, manga is actually one of the cheapest things you can find.


2 thoughts on “SJP: 立ち読み.

  1. I think you have a fair point. I also think American book shops (especially larger named bookstores) have a tendency to taunt customers into the very problem you mentioned.

    I have recently found myself in a Barnes & Nobles in the states and remembering pondering the curiosity of coffee shops being placed in places that sell books…If you want to discourage people from lounging around and reading a book without purchasing it…

    (1) wrap it in plastic like certain magazines do
    (2) don’t design your floor plan with seating areas and a coffee shop with enjoyable background music. I’m just going to buy their coffee, utilize your seating space for free and read your books without paying for them.

    Personally, I don’t feel guilty for sitting down, drinking said coffee OR reading said book(s) — however, I do feel as soon as my ass hits the fake leather chair, I have a limited amount of time before someone begins to judge whether I’ve paid for those dead, flimsy trees covered in ink and dressed for a handsome night out (the cover). I get antsy and begin to feel like someone will come over and ask me to leave or buy the book.

    Then again…nowadays, I feel most people don’t buy books to read them; people buy books to own the story and read it again and own the paper it’s printed on.

    Thanks for your posts.


    • In the West, though, they do provide an optimal venue for free reading, just as you said. Here, though, you’d be standing in front of the magazine rack near the door, book in hand, head down, perhaps part of a duo or trio of readers. Also, no one will tell you to stop.

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