Kinokuniya Book Sale 2006

Five days of the year, English-language books are affordable in Osaka. This year’s five days, poorly advertised as they always are (and one month earlier than last year), were November 1st to 5th. That was when Kinokuniya, once the largest bookstore in Osaka (now merely the most convenient), held its annual foreign-language book clearance. For the rest of the year, an English novel costs sometimes double what you’d pay for it back home (before Amazon put the fear of God into them, it was worse). Somehow, by word of mouth mostly (someone told me at a party), foreigners (they only say “expat” in Tokyo) find the place, on the 17th floor of the Hankyu Terminal Bldg, and a literary feeding frenzy ensues. I went on the 3rd and the 5th and bought fifteen books, almost all between ¥420~¥720. Those prices translate to less than even the cover price, let alone the usual mark-up. Why don’t they just price them fairly in the first place? If I knew that, I’d be running a company not working for one. But the annual sale has become almost festive, like a medieval pilgrimage, and you always run into someone you know. For the record, this is what I will be trying to read for the next year or so (in no particular order):


The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell, 2000

My Invented Country – Isabel Allende, 2003

The Writer and the World – V.S. Naipaul, 2002

Something Like an Autobiography – Akira Kurosawa, 1983

Living to Tell the Tale – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 2003

Kabuki Heroes on the Osaka Stage, 1780-1830 – C. Andrew Gerstle, 2005 (originally £25, I got it for ¥2500, far less than half the cover price and a full third of the original Kinokuniya mark-up price; lots of wonderful old illustrations, a well-written social history of the town I live in: Otaku Bargain of the Year™!)
Collected Poems 1948-1984 – Derek Walcott, 1986

On Beauty – Zadie Smith, 2005

Henderson the Rain King – Saul Bellow, 1958

The Folding Star – Alan Hollinghurst, 1994

Diary of a Mad Old Man (瘋癲老人日記 ) – Jun’ichirou Tanizaki, 1961

The Ladies’ No. 1 Detective Agency, 5 vols. – Alexander McCall Smith, 1999-2003:

1. The Ladies’ No. 1 Detective Agency (bought at the 2005 sale; read last year);
2. The Tears of the Giraffe; 3. Morality For Beautiful Girls; 4. The Kalahari Typing School For Men; 5. The Full Cupboard of Life.

Still waiting on my shelf from the 2005 sale:

Istanbul – Orhan Pamuk, 2005 (although I’m halfway through it since he won the Nobel Prize)
Snow – Orhan Pamuk, 2004
The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields, 1994 (I bought this on someone else’s suggestion; it looks dismal)

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One Response to Kinokuniya Book Sale 2006

  1. Pingback: Kinokuniya 2008: Better Late than Never « Nagaijin

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