My Experience Buying Manga at a USED Bookstore | Cafe Talk

Hello, and welcome!

On the second to last day of winter break, I took a spontaneous trip to the city with my family for a brief vacation. (Or for one last desperate breath of fresh air before diving back into school work, take your pick.) Anyhow, as we were gliding through downtown, which was still lit by glistening Christmas lights, my brother reminded us of a bookstore he stumbled upon the last time he was here. Being people of culture (and idiots for picking the coldest night of the year to explore outside), we headed for the bookstore as quickly as the slick sidewalks would allow.

The outside of the shop was quaint; a rustic little cart sat just outside the door, which held the discounted-discount books. Lying dead center on the stack was Vol. 2 of A Distant Neighborhood by Jiro Taniguchi, an author whom I’ve heard about as a renowned mangaka, but nothing more.

Now, this was an ancient USED book store, so I was expecting a lot of dusty old books from the previous century stacked onto decaying shelves. To find manga—and without even opening the door—this had to be a good sign. I took the manga and walked in. Immediately, I was consumed by the scent of antiquity and a touch of lemon from presumably some dust cleaner sprayed just a few hours prior.

I had been looking forward to this visit, even if just to look and not buy, so my memory of walking in is a bit hazy. But I was right about one thing: there were a LOT of books, though not necessarily old. Some of the titles that my eyes hurriedly skimmed were, to my recollection, hot off the press from a month or two ago. That surprised me.

Brown wooden shelves lined the walls of the small shop, many of these towering shelves jutting out in to the walkway so as to divide the room into a dozen mini sections, pocket universes of thought for each genre: adventure, mystery, romance, drama, classical, science fiction, young adult, self-help, non-fiction, fiction, and the like.

Numerous unique chairs of all shapes and sizes from wooden to wicker sat pleasantly within reach, as if you were invited in to pull any book to your liking off the shelf, grab a seat, and lose yourself within the pages. It was a colorful place thanks to the thousand upon thousand of beautiful book spines (which were neatly arranged on the shelves, by the way), and despite the dark brown interior of the store, hanging industrial lights from both the ceiling and the shelves themselves lit the chamber with a warm ember glow.

Simply, I was in love. If you’ve ever imagined a fantastical library with a layout not unlike a labyrinth, in that it felt quite easy to get lost in, this was the place.

They had simultaneously less and more manga than I expected; it was just two or three rows of books on these narrow two-foot-wide shelves. The shallowness of the shelf itself was a perfect look for the tiny collection, so I took mental notes about how to remodel my own room once I made or bought new shelves.

There wasn’t much there, yet I was still thrilled anyhow to skim through the used manga. When was the last time I came to a used book store? I thought to myself as I borrowed the nearby step-stool to reach the top shelf where the manga was humbly lined.

I just had to buy something, I remember convincing myself at the time, so I walked away with two others besides Taniguchi: Devil Survivor by Satoru Matsuba (story by Atlus) and Merman in My Tub by Itokichi, two volume ones that I was acquainted with by name. With both in good condition and certainly cheaper than using Amazon’s used services, I consider this small haul a steal. The young woman at the counter rang up the items, wrapped them in a brown paper sack, and we were on our way back through the cold.


Not a particularly novel (ha!) haul, but one I thought I’d share anyway.

This experience was special to me because it allowed me to reconnect with the charm of the bookstore environment itself. It was a magnificent little shop, and had I taken pictures, I definitely would have shared them with you all—I know you would’ve loved it.

In this digital age of online shopping and even browsing for digital books, I had temporarily lost that joyous feeling of walking out of a physical store, haul in hand. It’s not revolutionary thought; I just went into a bookstore and bought books, but even still, it makes me happy.

If ever you are offered the chance to peruse the shelves of a new or used bookstore—even if your goals in mind are larger than what the store offers—consider closing out of that internet tab for a reconnection with the physical and inviting yourself to the rustic charm of a dusty bookshelf. Trust me, you won’t regret your stay.

It’s always pleasing to use something for its specific purpose. — Mrs. Crocombe, a Victorian Chef at Audley End House

Now, I ask you: when was the last time you went to a used bookstore? What were you looking for at the time, and did they have it or not? For me, it had clearly been way too long, and I’m so glad I was able to spend the final days of my break absorbing pages and panels of so, so many books. I’d love to hear your personal stories if you’re willing to share! I suppose I’ll be off to reorganize my own manga collection, so until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

11 thoughts on “My Experience Buying Manga at a USED Bookstore | Cafe Talk

  1. Someone commented on a post of mine at TheOASG about a place called 2nd & Charles that sells used books & some new stuff (owned by Books-a-Million). Never had heard of it, but had one near a warehouse store I go to now and then. Lots of books and had a manga section. But most of the used manga they had I already owned, so I didn’t pick up any. But I was also tired and had a long trip home, so didn’t spend a lot of time there.
    I did find a new (just a bit of the plastic seal undone) copy of the Naruto Deck-Building Game for $12.50 that goes for like $100 on eBay.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve never heard of it either, and I definitely want to check it out now. It’s cool that someone recommended you to the place, though. And ooh, what a bargain—finding surprise steals like that can be the best feeling in the world! On the anime side of things, the Toradora LTD ED now goes for +$100 on eBay, but a Vintage Stock I was at forgot to update the sticker and I got it for like $40 or $50.

      Thanks for sharing your mystical tips and tricks, Krystallina!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The description of the place makes it sound like a shop that wouldn’t stock manga. What a pleasant surprise. Good to hear that bookstores still exist. Most of the ones in my area have gone bust.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You could tell that manga wasn’t their forte, no, which is exactly why I was surprised. In my area, I’ve seen more book stores fade out than anything else, which is a real shame. I’m glad I was able to find this little safe haven in the city.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I volunteer at a charity store, and if I ask the manager for something deemed unsellable, it’s mine. It’s a happy coincidence that I’m the sort of person who prefers brick-and-mortar stores…and it’s a nasty coincidence that there’s a library (that sells its old books on the cheap) if you walk up the road from where I volunteer, plus a bookstore in the other direction that sells stuff at RRP, which means occasionally books get chucked out to make space for new ones. So…I feel sorry for binned books, as weird as that sounds.

    That aside, both the library and the bookstore sell manga but oddly enough, when it comes to my volunteering place, I’ve only ever encountered one volume of manga (a Japanese-language copy of Black Jack vol. 14, which is mine now – although it’s hard to read due to all the medical terms).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh how neat, I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to work a little at a place like that. It’s a shame that some of the other stores and the library wouldn’t coordinate their locations better though.

      Whenever I see old manga or anime at stores like these, I tend to see myself as “rescuing” them. I wonder if you feel the same, haha! I mean, I’d feel terrible for a volume to sit all alone, so if I snag it, I can give it a new home . . . even if I have no intent on reading whatever it is I saved. At least we’ll be able to hold onto these volumes and admire our collections as books from all different walks of life.

      Thank you for sharing Aria!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: It’s Been 3 Months – How Am I Doing? | Quarterly Update (Spring) | Takuto's Anime Cafe

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