Free books

These shelves with books can be found in some (very few) train stations in Tokyo. You are supposed to take a book, read it and return it. Nobody registers who takes which book. In the Spanish version of this post some people talk about how this system was introduced in some stations in Spain but all books disappeared after a while.

I’ve seen this only once, but I did not take a picture! Fortunately Roy and Danny did.

Picture by Dannychoo

Picture by Q-Taro

  • Doug

    July 1, 2008 at 3:35 am

    I used to live near Rokucho station in Adachi-ku in Tokyo, and on rainy days they used to leave out a bunch of umbrellas (presumably from their vast lost-and-found collection) with a sign that said “please take one and bring it back later” so that people who didn’t have an umbrella could get home dry. It was only a small thing, but it really helped and the community spirit of it really impressed me.

  • claytonian

    July 1, 2008 at 4:59 am

    In Busan I saw another system: book vending machines

  • tornadoes28

    July 1, 2008 at 11:26 am

    This really is a good example of how Japan is different from other countries. Like you mentioned about Spain, if this was in the United States, the all the books would disappear in a day or two never to be seen again.

    I love America but there are many unfortunate things about it such so many unethical or unresponsible people who take advantage of things or people. Therefore we can never have something like this.

  • Fuzzims

    July 1, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    This not only promotes literacy but is a cool thing to do.

    Also do they do this because libraries are hard to access? Or is this just something to help the train goers pass the time while they wait?

  • Ruben

    July 1, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Hey, the first photo.. I think it’s Nezu, right? I work there and every morning I see some old salarymen taking some books there 😉
    By the way, in Italy too something like that would end up like in Spain, no book in less than a week 🙂

  • Neil Duckett

    July 1, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    It’s a great idea ….. if it will work anywhere it will work here.

  • Jamaipanese

    July 2, 2008 at 6:08 am

    interesting. I wonder if i would find anything to read tha is of interest to me

  • ~JeromeFo

    July 3, 2008 at 12:22 am

    I read something about it before.
    Unique book culture =)

  • Tori

    November 12, 2008 at 12:59 am

    I think the books on the shelves must be donations. Rather than bundling up old books for recycling, might as well donate them to the train-station library for others to enjoy. I donate old books to the public library.

  • Mike

    August 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    They do have this in Britain, but at bus stops on park and ride sites (where the riders of the bus leave their car for the day, so they are likely to come back to the same place). Amazingly it does seem to “work”, but only because the scum who will run off with anything that isn’t bolted down that infest Britain can’t read.