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2016.09.23 Japanese Bookstore Strives to Sell More Books Internationally
In August, the Kinokuniya Bookstore closed the 1st floor all the way to the 5th floor of its Shinjuku South Store which sold Japanese books, and left the 6th floor which has reopened as Books Kinokuniya Tokyo (BKT), mainly operating to sell foreign books, to be “a standalone international bookshop right in the heart of Tokyo”, commented Hiroshi Sogo, who is Kinokuniya’s Director of Imports and Distribution, a popular and widely respected figure in the international book trade, in his reply to an interview by Publisher’s Perspectives.

Japanese bookstores had been making their profit by selling a variety of magazines, unlike the US and the U.K. where magazines sales are mainly in supermarkets. In the past 20 years, book sales have decreased by 40% and magazine sales by 50%. For the first time in 32 years, books sales exceeded magazine sales in March 2016, according to the figures officially announced by Nippon Shuppan Hanbai Inc, a major Japanese wholesale bookseller. It said its unconsolidated book sales in the fiscal year of 2015 to March 2016, book sales grew slightly from the previous amount to 247.6 billion yen ($2.42 billion), exceeding magazine sales which fell at 243.5 billion yen.

Notably, Kinokuniya has been increasing bookstores overseas including Kinokuniya Dubai since its opening in 2008, and recently UK publishers are said to be making great profit. Also, Kinokuniya has been recently known for its experimental original manga covers which differ in each country that they are sold in.

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