Earlier this month, I visited an old bookstore in Seoul, South Korea. This bookstore, unlike the others, sells second-hand books at a cheap price. This bookstore, called Seoul Chaek Bogo, was opened last year in March. Currently, it is known that 170,000 books are for sale in this store. Each day, hundreds of customers visit Seoul Chaek Bogo to purchase their books.
|[Seoul Chaek Bogo on the outside. Photo credits to Grace Lee]|
As soon as I went in, I could see rows and rows of books. There were all types of them from children’s books to biographies for the adults. All the books were put upon shelves without any wrapping so that if a customer wanted to read something, they could just take it out from the shelves and start reading it. However, it can be hard to find a certain book because anyone can read a book and put it back anywhere. Although there are computers near the front to help people find a book they want, information about its location is not provided.
In the store, there were many people who were sitting on the floor reading books. The store allowed its customers to get as many books as they want and read them. Everyone seemed to be wrapped in their books and happy. This seemed like a very good system to me because it enabled customers to not spend a lot of money and still enjoy the books. If the books up for sale were not allowed to be read in the store, people would have to buy them to know the context of the book. However, some might not find the books that they purchased interesting, which would just mean that they had wasted their money. People should be able to spend their money on books that they find interesting, not on the books that they do not enjoy.
|[The interior of the store. Photo credits to Grace Lee]|
While exploring further into the store, I found out that there are some books which are not for sale. These books were not published in companies but were independent publications. They are exhibited separately from the books that are for sale. People may read them but cannot buy them. Such independent publications include travel diaries of the author and books that are about the personal feelings and experiences of the author.
I interviewed a customer in the bookstore that day. His name was Mr. Lee, a local 47 years old Korean. He came with his family to the store. When I asked for his opinion about the store, he replied that he liked being able to read as much as he wants and buy books at a cheap price. Also, he said that the place felt like an old friend because there were many books that he read when he was young. He said that although he lived far away from here, he would be visiting the bookstore whenever he comes back to Seoul.
|[The interviewee, Mr. Lee. Photo credits to Grace Lee]|
This bookstore had a large age variation between its customers. There were young children around the age of three or four, but there were also several senior citizens. The reason that this bookstore is popular among all ages is because of the variety of the books it provides. Seoul Chaek Bogo has a lot of unique identities compared to other bookstores that many people can enjoy.
Cheongna Dalton School
Grace Lee email@example.com
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