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Those accustomed to browsing through thousands of books in mega bookstores, may find Japan's Morioka Shoten a little strange. That's because this tiny bookstore that is located in Ginza,Tokyo stocks only a single book at a time.
Opened in May 2015, Morioka Shoten (Japanese for bookstore) is the brainchild of Yoshiyuki Morioka. The industry veteran began his career as a bookstore clerk in Tokyo's Kanda district before branching out to open his own store. It was here while organizing book readings and signings that he realized that customers usually came into the store with one title in mind. Morioka began to wonder if a store could exist by selling multiple copies of just one single book. In November 2014, he partnered with Masamichi Toyama, the CEO of Japan-based Smiles Co. Ltd and local branding agency Takram Design Engineering, to establish a unique bookstore with the philosophy of Issatsu, Isshitsu, which translates to 'A Single Room, A Single Book.'
Like its offering, the bookstore's decor is minimalist. White paint covers the walls and ceiling while the concrete floor is left unadorned. A set of vintage drawers double up as a counter and desk for Morioka. The book of the week is showcased on a display table that stands at the center of the store.
The selections that are picked by Morioka change weekly and vary widely to attract customers with different interests. Recent choices include The True Deceiver, an award-winning Swedish novel by Tove Jansson, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, and a collection of artist Karl Blossfeldt’s photography of plants. Morioka has also displayed books written by famous Japanese authors Mimei Ogawa and Akito Akagi.
To highlight his sole offering, Morioka often uses smart props. For example, when selling a book about flowers, the entrepreneur decorated his shop with the ones that had been mentioned in the book. He also encourages featured authors to hold multiple talks and discussions so they can connect with customers. Morioka says his ultimate goal is for the client to experience being inside a book, not just a bookstore!
Risky as the idea might seem, things appear to be going well. The entrepreneur says he has sold over 2,100 books since he opened. Things can only get better given that his bookstore is becoming increasingly popular not just amongst the locals but also visitors from other countries.
Resources: takram.com, odditycentral.com, guardian.co.uk. Photos by Miyuki Kaneko courtesy Takram