Staffless Pay-What-You-Will Bookstore in China Actually Works

A peculiar outdoor bookstore recently opened in Nanjing, China. There is no cashier desk and no working staff to keep an eye on the books. Instead, visitors are invited to peruse the reading material on offer and pay whatever they want for books by dropping the money in a lock-box.

Organizers say the aptly named Honesty Bookstore is a social experiment meant to raise awareness of honesty and integrity. Believe it or not, so far, people have been doing the right thing. With no staff around, there is absolutely nothing stopping people from just taking the books they like and leaving without paying anything for them. Well, nothing but their conscience, that is. According to several news reports from China, people have actually been dropping money inside the box of their own free will, and Honesty Bookstore organizers claim that the raised money is enough to cover costs.


Honesty Bookshop, located on Xinjiekou Street, Nanjing, consists of four bookshelves holding around 1,500 titles, including novels, lifestyle books, children and social science books. It managed to sell over 300 books on opening day, with clients paying what organizers say was “basically” the right amount. A total of 800 books were sold over the weekend, and not a single one was stolen.


News about the bookstore’s functional payment model has been greatly welcomed in China, especially since similar experiments had had less positive results in the past. Two years ago, we wrote about a small self-service restaurant in China’s Fujian Province, where patrons were invited to pay what they felt was the true price of the meal. Around 20% of clients simply walked out without paying anything, and owners reported losses of 250,000 yuan ($41,170) in a very short time despite the place being packed every day.




Photos: JS China, CCTV News

via Shanghaiist

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