Despite the increased popularity of e-reading devices, the paper book market in China actually has been on the rebound since 2014, according to an online survey. However, the second-hand book market is relatively tiny due to limited trading outlets.
Déjà Vu, or 多抓鱼 (duō zhuā yú) in Chinese, a start-up platform for selling and buying second-hand books that are accessed via a mini-APP on WeChat, fortunately, emerged and quickly thriving by offering a great service to price-conscious bookworms.
On Déjà Vu, people can sell and buy at ease since the trade is nearly effortless, especially for those of you who have continued studying your Mandarin. For those users reluctant to throw out unwanted books, they can scan the barcode or input the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) of the books to get the resale price, then wait for the courier to collect them. When someone places an order, the vendor is notified and can collect the money online.
Usually priced between ten and 30 percent of what it might cost new, the selling of these books certainly wouldn’t earn users a huge fortune, but it’s way better than selling to trash collectors for petty cash. Also, the thought of selling these books to true book lovers who share similar reading tastes is also comforting for bookworms who otherwise might choose to hoard these books for sentimental reasons.
To narrow down the target options for otherwise overwhelmed buyers, Déjà Vu provides a bunch of lists with various focuses, such as new arrivals, cooking books, art, science, music, photography, detective novels, rare books, learning, short stories, Déjà Vu best-sellers, and books for kids. These will mostly be in Chinese, though there are also some western best-sellers. We can’t say there is an impressive collection, due to it only being in existence since early 2017, but it is growing quickly.
For each book, there’s price info, description of the book’s condition, the original price as new, ratings in popular reading-focused websites such as Douban and Goodreads, as well as a synopsis of the book. There is a fee for delivery, but if your order is beyond RMB 100, then it’s free. What’s even better, Déjà Vu now allows users to pay a deposit (fee is based on the price of the book you’re reserving) to keep a book in the warehouse for up to ten days and wait for other good books to become available so they can save on delivery costs. If you still don’t want the book after 10 days, you are given a refund with a ten percent deduction.
For those who want to buy books that unfortunately are not available on Déjà Vu, you can click 到货提醒 (dào huò tí xǐng “reminder on arrival”) to help you snatch up wanted books as soon as they arrive since new arrivals often sell within a couple of hours.
Those thoughtful small details contribute partly to Déjà Vu’s popularity, along with it being relatively cost-effective. The community atmosphere is also fostered through it giving recommend lists of books contributed from other users based on added tags. There is also the added convenience of nailing down a trade after a few taps on your smartphone, saving you from thumbing through old and dirty books at used goods markets, which very likely results in you getting nothing you wanted after hours of hunting.
Still in its infancy, Déjà Vu has a limited collection especially in some specific categories, but it’s looking to expand and even add more goods to the platform such as used electronics and furniture, says Wei Ying, the founder of Déjà Vu on a news report. Plus, their concept of “cycling creates value”, from a personal viewpoint, at least deserves credit for allowing the counterculture to revolt a bit against a society surrounded by consumerism while pleasing those who are eager for a prosperous publishing industry and more brick-and-mortar secondhand bookstores.
Can’t wait to clear out your bookshelves/get more books? Try Déjà Vu out by scanning the QR code attached.
Photos: Déjà Vu, Pixabay