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This Bookstore Sells Only One Book at a Time


A book is seen at the Morioka Shoten, a tiny bookstore in the backstreets of Ginza in Tokyo, Japan. The store seems just one title at a time. David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A book is seen at the Morioka Shoten, a tiny bookstore in the backstreets of Ginza in Tokyo, Japan. The store seems just one title at a time. David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Look out, Amazon. Morioka Shoten is here.

A clean, minimalist bookstore in both looks and offerings, the one-room shop in Tokyo's Ginza district contains just a table, desk and chest of drawers. The chest of drawers serves as a counter, while the table is topped with a small stack of books -- all of which are the same. And that's the concept behind this unique shop: a single-room bookstore containing a single book.

Japanese women check a book at the Morioka Shoten.
Japanese women check a book at the Morioka Shoten.
David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Image

Owner Yoshiyuki Morioka, an experienced bookseller, came up with the idea for his new store as a way of enhancing readers' intimacy with a particular book. Each featured tome has the shop to itself for six days. During that  time, its theme is enhanced by related artwork and other objects. (For instance, if showcasing a book on flowers, some of the flowers that appeared in the book would grace the store). The book's author and editor also are encouraged to hang out in the store as much as possible during the book's six-day run. All of this, Morioka told The Guardian in December 2015, is intended to make customers feel as though they are being ushered inside of a particular book, and so that purchasing and enjoying a book becomes a "three-dimensional ambience and experience."

His approach appears to be working. In the shop's first seven months of business, Morioka sold 2,100 books with customers stopping in from all over the world.

Morioka developed the concept for his new store during the decade he ran a traditional bookshop. That store typically featured about 200 books, and over time Morioka noticed two things. First, customers often appeared overwhelmed or flummoxed by the number of available titles. And second, whenever he organized book launches, they drew a lot of people. So, if people craved more simplicity in offerings and also liked to gather to celebrate a certain title, why not create a one-book shop to tap into both of these preferences?

Today, with giants like Amazon dominating the bookselling market and e-books on the rise, Morioka's shop might be just the thing anti-establishment readers are seeking.