Por­tal opens new chap­ter for used books

We should build a mu­sic fes­ti­val rather than a rail­way sta­tion. In a rail­way sta­tion, no­body wants to talk with strangers, but peo­ple talk more eas­ily when they share sim­i­lar mu­sic tastes.”

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 4 China -

Wei Ying, 31, is picky when buy­ing new stuff, but she al­ways buys new clothes with profits gained from sell­ing her old ones. In her col­lege days, she had a col­lec­tion of sec­ond­hand books and DVDs that was the envy of her class­mates.

In May, she founded the Deja Vu on­line store — spe­cial­iz­ing in used books — in a two-story apart­ment in north­ern Bei­jing. Piles of books squeeze the small space where some staff mem­bers clean dusty ones with cloths and al­co­hol, and oth­ers search out or­ders from the book­shelves.

Newly ar­rived books of­ten sell within a cou­ple of hours.

“My re­cy­cling dream is re­al­ized,” Wei said, adding that Deja Vu is in de­mand as more Chi­nese peo­ple buy books but have lim­ited space to store them.

Since open­ing, it has at­tracted more than 50,000 reg­is­tered users, in­clud­ing 10,000 ac­tive trad­ing mem­bers. It serves 10 ma­jor cities and will ex­pand na­tion­wide by the end of Novem­ber.

Bricks-and-mor­tar book­stores have been on the re­bound since 2014, but a re­port by Bei­jing-based Open­book.com says that for the first half of 2017 Chi­nese founder of Deja Vu on­line store on­line book­stores saw sales grow 30 per­cent, while off­line stores were in the red.

On the Douban rat­ings and re­view web­site, a “book ad­dict” club has al­most 350,000 mem­bers who show what books they read and rec­om­mend, and they dis­cuss how to swap or trade used “trea­sures”.

Book of­fers pep­per the on­line dis­cus­sions: “200 yuan ($30) for 10 used books, Bei­jing only” or “Used books, good bar­gain, freight”.

“We book­worms are re­luc­tant to throw out books. Due to lim­ited space, I have to give some away, but I would like to find other book lovers to trade with,” said Wang Hongfei, a re­searcher at Bei­jing Nor­mal Univer­sity.

Like many book own­ers, Wang once car­ried around a suit­case full of them, look­ing for buy­ers with sim­i­lar tastes.

How­ever, Deja Vu has now re­duced the buy­ing and sell­ing process to a few taps on a smart­phone. Ven­dors need only scan the bar code of a book and get the re­sale price, then wait for the courier to col­lect them.

Un­like other ma­jor book trad­ing plat­forms, Deja Vu of­fers stan­dard verification, pric­ing and pack­ag­ing. When some­one places an or­der, the ven­dor is no­ti­fied and can col­lect the money on­line.

Wei was in­spired by Bookoff, Ja­pan’s largest off­line sec­ond­hand book­store chain. Books are bought for 10 per­cent to 30 per­cent of the fixed price, and the store can sell 1,000 books a day and take in an­other 1,000.

“More users are telling us they hope to find rare books on our plat­form, so we’ve ex­tended the range,” Wei said.

How­ever, the site won’t deal in spe­cific test books, fake science, per­sonal life guides, tainted books or coun­ter­feits.

Wei says books are of­ten ver­i­fied on­line by ma­chine, but some books listed as coun­ter­feit are very like the gen­uine ar­ti­cle. If coun­ter­feits are de­tected through for­mat or print anal­y­sis, they are sent to re­cy­cling cen­ters.

Peo­ple in China started trad­ing books on­line in earnest a cou­ple of years ago, but Wei says own­ers could not com­mu­ni­cate di­rectly with each other. She wants to pro­vide com­mu­nity-like ser­vices.

“We should build a mu­sic fes­ti­val rather than a rail­way sta­tion. In a rail­way sta­tion, no­body wants to talk with strangers, but peo­ple talk more eas­ily when they share sim­i­lar mu­sic tastes,” she said.

Users once had to thumb through old, dirty books at used goods mar­kets, said Li Chan, chief of operations at Deja Vu. “Now they sell and buy at ease. Of­ten they will at­tach a message for buy­ers, hop­ing to share their ex­pe­ri­ence.”

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