4, 5, 6, 7, S at Grand Central-42nd St.; B, D, F, M at 42nd St.-Bryant Park
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
After launching in Japan in 1990, Book-Off quickly became the front-runner in the Japanese used-media market. This New York outlet has polished, well-illuminated aisles filled with regimented rows of dirt-cheap used books, CDs, and DVDs from both Japan and the U.S. In the English-language section on the ground floor, Katie Couric biographies and John Grisham hardcovers sit alongside translations of Japanese classics by Junichiro Tanizaki and Yukio Mishima . Upstairs and basement levels are devoted exclusively to Japanese products: magazines, books, and DVDs down below, and manga booklets and comics up top. All the section-marking placards list categories and prices (e.g., “Novels: $1 to $3”) in both Japanese and English. While the clientele skews native Japanese, all customers here understand the universal language of a good bargain. And Book-Off also buys used media, giving shoppers a way to make money as well as save it.