The Bookstore

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"The Bookstore"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no. Season 9
Episode 17
Directed by Andy Ackerman
Teleplay by Spike Feresten
Story by Spike Feresten & Darin Henry & Mark Jaffe
Production code 917
Original air date April 16, 1998
Guest actors
Season 9 episodes
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Bookstore" is the 173rd episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 17th episode for the ninth and final season. It aired on April 16, 1998.


The episode opens with a montage of what Kramer does at Jerry's place when he's not home: This includes making and spilling a smoothie, using Jerry's couch cushion to clean it up; riding Jerry's bike around his apartment; yelling down at people on the street; doing a Jerry stand-up impersonation; redecorating the apartment; and hosting parties. Kramer manages to revert the place back to normal by the time Jerry comes home, except for a drink that is not on a coaster.

Jerry and George are at a bookstore, Brentano's, where George hopes to meet women and Jerry spots Uncle Leo shoplifting. George takes a large book into the bathroom with him, then the bookstore makes George buy the book. Elaine is at the annual Peterman party, where everyone is anxious to know if she is going to dance again. Elaine didn't dance at the party; instead, she and a man named Zach got drunk and made out at their table. George suggests that she tell everyone that she and Zach are dating (so that she won't be known as the "office skank"). Kramer and Newman plan to implement Kramer's idea for running a rickshaw service in the city. They are getting a rickshaw from Hong Kong, now they need to find someone to pull it. Jerry confronts Uncle Leo about the stolen book. Uncle Leo claims it is a right as a senior citizen. Elaine catches her man with another woman. Kramer and Newman attempt to interview potential rickshaw pullers from a collection of homeless men; however, one of the candidates takes off with the rickshaw. George tries to return his book, but is told the book has been "flagged" as having been in the bathroom. Jerry rats out Uncle Leo at the bookstore.

Jerry talks with his parents about Uncle Leo's theft and finds out about his prior, the crime of passion of which his mother will not tell him the details. His parents also inform him of the senior approach; it is not stealing if you need it. Elaine plans to use the cheating angle to protect her reputation. Jerry tries to talk with Uncle Leo, but the only thing Uncle Leo tells him is that he never forgets when he's been betrayed. George discovers his book has been "flagged" in all the databases as a bathroom book. Elaine's plan goes awry when J. Peterman demands that she help Zach get off the "yam yam" by helping him to quit cold turkey. Jerry has a nightmare about Uncle Leo. Newman and Kramer discover where the rickshaw is and Kramer loses the contest to determine who will pull the other. George tries to donate his book to charity, but even they won't take the marked book. When Kramer gets tired pulling Newman in the rickshaw up a hill and lets it go, the results are disastrous as the rickshaw runs over Elaine's "boyfriend" Zach. George plans to steal a good copy of the book, so he can return it to get his money back. Just as Jerry finds out from the manager that the manager has been told that the store needs to make a good example out of a shoplifter, any shoplifter, as long as they catch him in the act. Jerry then points out that George is shoplifting, and he gets caught.

Episode Notes[edit]

  • The thrift store clerk's name is Rebecca DeMornay, the same name as the real-life actress Rebecca De Mornay. The same character, as played by actress Sonya Eddy, also appears in "The Muffin Tops" as a homeless shelter employee.
  • The Bar Code scanner was an empty shell supplied by Worth Data of Santa Cruz CA.
  • Zach was played by Jonathan Penner, who became a contestant on Survivor: Cook Islands in 2006 and returned for Survivor: Micronesia in 2008 as part of the Favorites tribe. He also returned in Survivor: Philippines in 2012.
  • Jerry's dream sequence of Uncle Leo doing chin-ups in prison is an homage to the movie Cape Fear.
  • 5150, the code the security officer calls in to bust Uncle Leo, is actual police code for an involuntary psychiatric hold in California.
  • The scene with Newman rolling down the hill in the rickshaw was shot in Downtown Los Angeles. To achieve the wide shot of Newman's rickshaw rolling uncontrollably down the street, the crew hooked the rickshaw up to the back of a pickup truck and drove it down the hill, then digitally erased the truck in post-production.
  • When Kramer says to one homeless rickshaw applicant named Rusty, "I once knew a horse named Rusty", he is referring to the horse that pulled the Hansom cab in The Rye.
  • This episode is the first since Season 4 not to feature an additional scene during the ending credits.
  • For ending credits, the additional scene on DVD features Peterman telling Elaine to care for her friend with Elaine saying "I'm the office skank."
  • The thrift store is the Housing Works Thrift Shop located at 306 Columbus Ave, NY, NY.
  • When looking at a book on pagodas, Kramer says, "I gotta get over to Hong Kong before it all goes back to the Chinese." By the time the episode aired, Hong Kong had been part of China for nearly a year, explaining Jerry's reply of "Well, you'd better hurry."


In this episode, J. Peterman referred to opium as "the Chinaman's nightcap". The episode prompted many Asian American viewers, including author Maxine Hong Kingston, to send letters of protest. In her letter, Kingston wrote that the term is "equivalent to niggers for blacks and kikes for Jews". Media watchdog Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) called on NBC to issue a public apology. NBC did not issue an apology, but it removed the offending term from the episode in the episode's rerun in May 1998. NBC's executive vice president for broadcast standards and content policy sent MANAA a letter stating that the network never intended to offend. MANAA was pleased with the studio's response despite the lack of an apology, and Kingston, while disappointed there was no apology, was pleased that the term was removed from the episode.[1]


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