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Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005
THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF
Find the right book without even going to Jinbocho
By TAI KAWABATA
Renso Shuppan (Associative Publishing), a nongovernmental organization headed by Akihiko Takano, professor at the National Institute of Informatics, has recently launched the Web site Book Town Jimbou (jimbou.info).
Book Town Jimbou can search for books available in Jinbocho, a Tokyo district long-famous for its many (around 160) bookstores, which stock used, old and rare books.
Book Town Jimbou has collected information on 151 bookstores and about 100,000 titles. Specific searches can be done using book titles and author names, while an advanced "associative" search function allows subject matter, keywords or phrases to be used.
Titles are displayed with links to general information on them as well as links to bookstore addresses, telephone numbers and Web-site details. Bookstores can also be browsed according to the fields that they specialize in by using the category (subject matter) search.
In addition, the Web site allows users to create a personalized map of Jinbocho and mark favorite bookstores, and provides information on the annual Jinbocho used-book festival.
Another search service offered by Renso Shuppan allows Japanese readers to search for shinsho (Japanese pocket-size paperbacks) at its Shinsho Map site (shinshomap.info/).
While these Web sites are in Japanese only, Renso Shuppan has also updated its Web site Webcat Plus (webcatplus.nii.ac.jp), which searches university libraries across the nation and can be used in English (webcatplus.nii.ac.jp/en).
Like Book Town Jimbou, Webcat Plus makes an associative search, processing 11.67 million titles in various languages, including 6.5 million in English. For more than 9.35 million Japanese and English titles, each book's table of contents and other bibliographical information are provided.