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Reading manga before you buy now officially OK again at Japan’s biggest second-hand bookstore – SoraNews24 -Japan News-

Reading manga before you buy now officially OK again at Japan’s biggest second-hand bookstore – SoraNews24 -Japan News-

Book Off says the practice is OK…probably.

In Japanese, the word tachiyomi translates literally to “reading while standing.” You might wonder why someone in the mood to do some reading would stand instead of sit, and the reason is that tachiyomi refers to reading part of a book or magazine at a bookstore while browsing, possibly without buying it afterwards.

Tachiyomi is most commonly seen in bookstores’ manga sections as people either skim through a series’ opening to see if the tone and style match their tastes, catch up on a chapter or two they missed in a series they’d been following, or jump to the end to satisfy their curiosity and see how the story concludes. It might sound like something stores wouldn’t be too crazy about shoppers doing, but Book Off, Japan’s largest chain of second-hand bookstores, recently held a press conference to tell everyone that tachiyomi is now allowed at their stores.

At the June 19 press conference in Tokyo, Book Off president Yasutaka Horiuchi said that the chain is lifting its ban on tachiyomi, which has been in place for roughly three years, saying:

“We had been operating under the idea that we didn’t want our stores to be only a place to buy and sell products, but a place where people could feel comfortable visiting and spending time in. However, during the spread of the coronavirus we had no choice but to ask shoppers to refrain from tachiyomi. Now, though, even within Japan travel restrictions have been relaxed, and as people start to move around more freely, as they did before, we have decided the timing is right to end our ban on tachiyomi that has been in place for approximately three years.”

Horiuchi’s statement is, in many ways, a simplification of the situation. While Book Off is a large chain with some very large individual branches, the stores’ interiors tend to be cramped, with long, narrow aisles of high shelves filled with manga. Tachiyomi leads to groups of shoppers congregated in close proximity near the most popular series, pretty much the opposite of the social distancing guidelines set out during the pandemic, which is why Book Off enacted the tachiyomi ban Horiuchi mentioned in his statement. With public health conditions improving, though, tachiyomi no longer constitutes the same infection risk it used to.

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“We’ve begun tachiyomi” reads this graphic from Book Off’s website version of the announcement.

However, even before the pandemic, it wasn’t unusual for individual Book Off stores to have “No tachiyomi” signs posted inside them. Newer volumes from series going through a surge in popularity, for example as they approached their finale or had an anime adaptation airing, were also often wrapped in plastic, preventing them from being tachiyomi-ed.

Because of that, it’s somewhat hard to gauge the extent of Book Off’s tachiyomi allowance. It could be just a return to how things were right before the pandemic started, or it could be an even more lenient system where shoppers are welcome to read any of the manga on the shelves. Still, with Book Off going to the trouble of formally announcing the new policy, it’s explicitly acknowledging that some degree of tachiyomi is OK. With digital manga readership on the rise in Japan, that might not be a bad way to help reacquaint fans with the joys of having a physical book in their hands and on-paper artwork to appreciate.

Oh, and it’s worth bearing in mind that the announcement of the lifting of the tachiyomi ban was accompanied by etiquette requests such as to be politely quiet while doing your tachiyomi, not blocking other customers or store staff from navigating the aisles and reaching the bookshelves, and not doing tachiyomi for an excessively long time.

Source: Oricon News via Otakomu, Book Off
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Book Off
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  • June 25, 2023