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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

World's Smallest & Coolest Book Store

Let's take a look at Morioka Shoten Ginza, a book store so small in the the alleyways of Ginza, Tokyo, that it is smaller than your living room (I'm supposing you don't live in a palatial mansion, of course). Let's just say it's smaller than MY living, as I have a couple hundred books perched on the shelves, with several more  thousand in the basement. I read a lot.

I don't have the actual dimensions, but that's not what makes it cool anyways... it's the fact that it only sells one book, one title, actually, changing it up every week. That's what makes it cool.

The owner of the conceptual bookstore is Morioka Yoshiyuki (surname first) who believes in "Issatsu, Isshitsu (一冊、一室)", a phrase that means "A Single Room, A Single Book".

Why? Perhaps it comes with the knowledge that bookstores everywhere sell the same books, basically, so why not create a niche market?

Basically, Morioka picks a book to offer up for sale, then provides visitors to the shop with an event... it could be talks on the book, exhibitions on whatever, or even a chance to meet the book's author... and I'm sure get one's copy signed.

Speaking as someone who has sat at a rented table in Artist's Alley at about seven comic conventions in Chicago... it's nerve-racking sitting there with your work for sale in front of you, hoping someone will pick it up so you can chat with them to convince them to buy it. I was the writer, and with various artists, we would always offer to autograph a sold copy. We never made a lot of money, but we loved doing what we were doing.

Basically, I think very few authors make a lot of money... certainly not enough to get rich on, which is why I think most have a day job.

It's why I really do love Morioka's conceptual book store.

Too cool to sell anything but what HE wants, he would have to actually read the book first to determine if he wanted to sell it - hoping that he can make enough sales for himself to survive - after all, this IS his day job.

Think about it... you'd like the equivalent of $50,000 to survive if you live in a big city... so he needs sales of greater than that... not only does he have his own house rent, electrical, water, and food costs et al, he has the same for his shop... plus the cost of his inventory.

So he has to sell a lot of that one book title every week... which means the book he chooses better be damn good for repeat business to occur.

That's taking a huge business risk... and since it seems to be working, selling one title per week... it's why I think it's the smallest and coolest - COMBINED - book store in the world. Yeah... there may be smaller book stores... but certainly not with as limited a selection.

It almost makes me wish I was in Ginza... I, like a lot of you blog readers, go through a book a week. Morioka Shoten Ginza would be perfect for us.

And just think of the other interesting people you could meet there?

Now that's cool.

Morioka Shoten Ginza
Address: 1F Suzuki Building, 1-28-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, TOKYO (Gmap)
Open: 13:00〜20:00 (Closed on Mondays)
Telephone: 03-3535-5020

If you are in the neighborhood, drop in (not Monday), check out the selection (singular), but really, check out the coolness, and let me know what YOU think.

I've met some interesting people in book stores and libraries. Some special ones, too.

Write on!
Andrew Joseph
PS: Photo is Kaneko Miyuki (surname first) courtesy Takram. Full article with more photos from, via Vince.


  1. Heard about this place. Should really go and check it out now. I think it's a really interesting concept, I just hope it can survive! Do you know how long it's been around?


    1. Hi Tom, from what I heard, THIS concept has been around since May of 2015 - so it is a new deal, but the owner has been involved in the bookselling business for 20 years, so we can assume he knows a thing or two about how regular bookstores work.
      I hope you do get a chance to check it out! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
      Cheers - and thanks for reading!