Japanese Bookstore Buys Up Copies of Murakami Book to Block Online Retailers

Bookstores all over the world are dealing with stiff competition from online retailing giants like Amazon. One Japanese book retailer has taken an extreme measure to fight back.

Haruki Murakami’s new book of essays, Novelist as a Vocation, is coming out in Japan this September. Kinokuniya, a chain of Japanese bookstores, really wants to make sure that customers buy the book from its stores instead of online. The bookstore’s solution? Order 90,000 copies – 90% of the book’s first print run, which totals 100,000 copies. That, of course, leaves only 10,000 copies for other retailers, insuring that online sellers can’t flood the market with cheap and available copies of the surefire bestseller.

The cover of “Novelist as a Vocation,” which will will be available in Japan this September

It’s a gutsy move, but the 66-store chain says that it’s what they need to do to compete. “This is not an experiment,” Kinokuniya board member Hitoshi Fujimoto told Japanese Newspaper Asahi Shimbun. Instead, it’s Kinokuniya’s new business model, which comes “with certain calculated risk.”

Kinokuniya sees disrupting the book distribution market as their best weapon against online retailers. “To rival online book retailers, bookstores across the country now need to join hands in efforts to reinvigorate the conventional book distribution market,” a Kinokuniya spokesperson explained.

Novelist as a Vocation is a collection of essays that Murakami wrote for the literary magazine, Monkey, about writing and his life as an author. It’s sitting at number five on Amazon Japan’s charts, despite the apparent shortage being faced by the online retailer.

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Stephen L., Staff Writer