The bookshop that sells one story at a time

Morioka Shoten has been dubbed both an ‘anti-Amazon’ and a ‘minimalist solution’ to the crippling indecision that I and many others face when standing among the teetering shelves of traditional bookstores.

Morioka’s new venture opened its doors in Tokyo’s trendy Ginza shopping district in May 2015— successfully selling one new book a week. Proof, that readers seeking deep, personal relationships with physical books still exist, and that great choice doesn’t always equal a great experience.

Morioka Shoten single book japan literature consumerism consumption 3

Many of us have worked hard and feel a sense of entitlement to the plethora of choices available. Filling us with the expectation that the perfect choice exists, when it doesn’t. Too much choice can, in fact, be the opposite of freeing. I only needed to remember the sense of paralysis engulfed me in the book section of WHSmith, the shelves were full of so many messages and no meaning.

“This bookstore that sells only one book could also be described as ‘a bookstore that organises an exhibition derived from a single book’. For instance, when selling a book on flowers, in the store could be exhibited a flower that actually appears in the book.

Also, I ask the authors and editors to be at the bookstore for as much time as possible. This is an attempt to make the two-dimensional book into three-dimensional ambience and experience. I believe that the customers, or readers, should feel as though they are entering ‘inside a book’.” Morioka Shoten

I echo Psychologist Barry Schwartz, who said ‘choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied’. This topic (in its entirety) is a complex one that requires depth and deserves more than a random impromptu blog post. Yet, it does point towards a shift and opportunity for us all to bring more meaning than mass into our lives.

  • Ne quid nimis. (In all things moderation.)
    –Publius Terentius Afer (Terence), c. 171 B.C.

Morioka Shoten single book japan literature consumerism consumption