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Book Shopping The Honor System Way: Honesty Bookstore

No check-outs and an unmaned silver box register

Among Fuzhou Lu’s many bookshops is the new and entirely unique Honesty Bookstore. A small gem on the street, the store stands out for its honor-policy when it comes to payments. Hidden inside the entrance to a larger building, guests will walk the tiny store to find no cashier or manager—just a small sign explaining the store’s policies.


Books are 30 percent of the price marked on the cover, but more notably, the store trusts customers to pay for their books by dropping money into an unmanned silver box that serves the store’s “register.” The selection of books on a long shelf is comprised of mainly Chinese books with a few English exceptions. Genres range from picture books to novels to Chinese-English dictionaries.


The unorthodox business is the first of its kind in Shanghai. It’s run by Popular Bookmall, a company that opened a similar shop in Nanjing this June. These employee-free businesses are meant to spread the ideas of honesty and integrity while making books more readily available to customers. The company also hopes the stores will help encourage people to start reading more in a responsible way. So far, the Nanjing store has found relative success—it reportedly has just about broken even after six months in operation.


The Shanghai store’s motto written on its entrance reads “Honesty is as precious as gold". Hopefully, the honor-policy payments will be successful and Shanghai’s Honesty Bookstore will be here to stay.

Find it: 579 Fuzhou Lu (near Hubei Lu); 福州路579号 (湖北路)


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