This long strip of paper is folded in half and placed over one of the inner pages of the book. It's called the "sales card" and in the days before computers was removed from the book by the salesperson before the book was sold. In this way presumably bookstores would have a record of which books were sold on any given day.
When I buy a book in Japan these days, this strip of paper is still left inside folded over one of the pages. The title of the book, author, publisher (including contact details), price and ISBN of the book are all printed on both sides of the bifold with a simple illustration from the book. It can be taken out and discarded, kept as a record of purchase, or given to someone else as a book recommendation. While it's not really an eco-friendly way of doing things, it is pretty book friendly. You can imagine these things passing between people in book clubs, playgroups and after school activities.
This self-returning postcard is designed so the buyer can give feedback directly to the publisher. On the side that you can't see is the publisher's address, a place to write your own name, address and other demographic information (age, profession or school name).
On this side you can see here is a place to write the name of the book you just bought, plus a short questionnaire covering how you heard about the book, what kinds of media you read, why you decided to buy this book and in the biggest section, any feedback you might have about the book, messages to the author, pictures you might like to draw from the book. The postcard invites readers, both adults and children to participate in the book review process. There is also the suggestion that your messages might be passed along to the author, a kind of built-in fan mail.
Asking children and adults to provide opinions about what they read encourages them to be more active in their own reading process. The publisher doesn't want to sell you just one book - they want you to be a reader for life. The last piece of ephemera included in this book was important in this aspect so I included the PDF of both sides below.
To tell you the truth, when my kids were growing up I didn't pay these inserts much attention. Writing this blog, I am SO sad I didn't have my kids do all of this. What an amazing way to bring kids into the conversation of how books are created and published. Some amazing ideas for you if you live in Japan, or ever if you don't....
* If you're like me, you're slowly growing a collection of picture books. Make it a habit to send that postcard feedback to the publisher - you might be able to influence what the publisher will do next.
* If you're not in Japan - send feedback to the publisher anyway. What a great way to get your opinion on things like #weneeddiversebooks heard.
* Check first thing for interactive activities inside your book. Having your children or students participate in some kind of campaign like the one outlined above is the quickest way of hooking them in to the book's concept and literacy in general.
* Check again - there might be Facebook pages and Twitter hashtags that relate to the book you just purchased. Join the crowd!
* Make it a point to keep your itemized book receipts if you don't live in a country that gives you these paper inserts. You never know when you will need to pull a book recommendation out of your purse. Make the world a better place by filling it will all your favorite books.
* Some book obi or other book ephemera (you might get a lot of this if you are a teacher, for example) can be used in art projects. Create Christmas trees filled with joyous picture book characters. Cover notebooks. Decorate mirrors. The art will brighten your spirits and remind you to take time out to do the most joyous activity of all - read to your kids. :)