we have Book Off here in L.A., i haven't visited yet, but it's on my list...
for the casual reader, i recommend the neomarxisme
blog, there's a lot of interesting articles and discussion there about things related to the economic environment in Japanese culture... maybe it's all cr*p, but it's usually an interesting read.
on the work stuff, we have the same thing here (at least in California), a recent court ruling against some entertainment game programming company made the difference between hourly workers (exempt, eligible for overtime pay) and salaried workers (non-exempt, get paid by the month, not eligible for overtime pay) a big deal, it made California employers all paranoid. before the ruling, our hourly employees would just submit a 40 hours worth of work per week timesheet and pretend that they were salaried workers. after the ruling, our non-exempt people have to keep track of their time at work, and have to follow all the rules about taking breaks and lunch... if they accidentally work 6 hours without taking a break, they get an extra hour of pay. it's all 9-5 with two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch and follow the rules. while i'm an exempt salaried person who gets paid $X per month no matter how much i have to work.
so i sorta feel Harisenbon's pain.... six months ago, everybody pretended that they were salaried workers and just did the job. now half the people are counting hours and get paid 1.5 time for overtime and 2.0 time for holidays, and they can claim overtime for anything over the 8 hours of on-clock time at work... while i get to work any amount of time at any hour of the day even over holidays for the same $X per month. i don't know who has the better deal.