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Owner of small bookstore offers free services on one of Saigon’s most expensive streets

Over the past 10 years, Nguyen Van Can's bookstore has maintained its policy: those who visit the bookstore can read books freely and rent books without making a deposit or registering their names or time for return of the books.


Ông lão mở tiệm sách '3 không' bên con đường đắt đỏ bậc nhất Sài Gòn

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Can


The small bookstore on Nguyen Huu Canh Street in Ho Chi Minh City of Nguyen Ngoc Can, 68, welcomes readers at 3pm every day. Amid the street of luxury buildings, Can's bookstore is unusually quiet and peaceful.

Instead of leasing his front-street house for business to earn high income, Can has divided his house into two parts: one for his bookstore and another for a hired coffee shop. The café’s operation does not affect the bookstore’s atmosphere.

Can uses revenues from the coffee shop to buy more books for the shop. “The books in my store are cheaper than others. Buyers can return the books if they don’t like. They can borrow books without making a deposit or having to register their names and the time for book return. If they want to keep the book, it is fine."

Even if a reader borrows a rare book and does not return it, Can does not care because he thinks that if he loses a rare book, he will get another. He just expects the knowledge in the books will be passed on to others.

Can is supported by many other people, who usually present books to his store. “Many people send their books to my store. If I find that my store has too many books, I will send them to students in rural and remote areas."

From the outside, the bookstore looks small and simple. However, stepping inside, visitors will be overwhelmed by the huge number of books. In a small space, books are everywhere, from iron shelves to stairs, corridors and ceilings.

Can's small bookstore has more than 10,000 books, which are sorted and arranged by the owner in a certain order. Can said during his free time, he usually visits other bookstores to find more books, especially books that his store does not have.

Ông lão mở tiệm sách '3 không' bên con đường đắt đỏ bậc nhất Sài Gòn

Mr. Can's bookstore


“When I was young, I was a bookworm but my family was poor so I could not afford to buy books. I just went to bookstores to read on the spot. Later when I had money, I always tried to find good books to buy."

That habit has pursued him until now. Whenever he has money, Can goes to bookstores to buy books. He said he is uncomfortable and unhappy if he cannot buy books. Understanding his joy and meaningful work, family members have quietly supported him.

Through the bookstore, Can has made many friends, both old and young. Can always tries to create a sense of intimacy for his visitors. He said that many young people come to his bookstore to buy and read books and also to share with him their sadness about family, life and love. When they become acquainted, many young people see him as a friend to whom they can tell their secrets and as someone who can give good advice.

When a VietNamNet reporter visited the bookstore, Can was making coffee for customers. He said his small bookstore offers coffee, tea, and instant noodles for free as many readers here are poor students.

Can said he does not have to pay for the food anymore as many people donate food to the store.

Nguyen Son

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