Japanese Bookstore Sells Only One Book At A Time

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Morioka Shoten (Photo Credit: Miyuki Kaneko courtesy Takram)

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.

Morioka Shoten (Photo Credit: Miyuki Kaneko courtesy Takram)

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

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Ginza, Japan

Reading Comprehension (3 questions)

  1. What is unusual about Morioka Shoten?
  2. How did Yoshiyuki Morioka come up with the idea?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Would a bookstore with a single book be successful in your neighborhood?...

Vocabulary in Context

“Morioka says his ultimate goal is for the client to experience being inside a book, not just a bookstore!”

In the above sentence, the word ultimate most likely means:


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  • sprinkles4life
    sprinkles4lifeFriday, September 16, 2016 at 9:01 am
    HAHA funny yet smart
    • dancepants77
      dancepants77Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 12:30 pm
      That sounds a little bit boring
      • DragonGirlMonday, May 30, 2016 at 11:27 pm
        • NiceeWednesday, May 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm
          thats cool
          • CUTIEWednesday, May 4, 2016 at 2:41 pm
            LOL LOVE IT
            • gravitydog
              gravitydogThursday, April 7, 2016 at 6:17 am
              Whoah thats weird and awesome but how does that guy pay his bills and stuff like that! Im very surprised by this article!
              • wyatt07
                wyatt07Monday, April 4, 2016 at 6:55 am
                If wal-mart did that that place would be out of business in no time. Also how does he get enough money to pay his bills and other things?
                • cutegirl2
                  cutegirl2Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 11:48 am
                  That's what I'm thinking.
                • daphneFriday, April 1, 2016 at 9:41 am
                  wow that is interesting
                  • Snowflake girl Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 1:34 pm
                    • HelloWednesday, March 30, 2016 at 9:05 am
                      I Would Never Go There Imagine A Grocery Store Selling Only One Food At A Time

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