Storeless bookstore celebrates a decade of selling books

Calling itself an “airline bookstore”, Ika Bunko is a bookstore without a real physical storefront.

Instead of selling his own books, the manager organizes book fairs in bookstores for a fee and sells original items.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Ika Bunko is going strong, earning the respect of booksellers for its promotional talent.


Ika Bunko director Yuki Kasukawa, 44, appeared on “Asaichi”, Japan Broadcasting Corp’s morning news show. (NHK), on July 15 to introduce comics to connoisseurs.

Along with a selection of books, t-shirts, badges and other quirky items are lined up for a book fair held at SPBS Honten Bookstore in Tokyo’s Shibuya district in March to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ika Bunko. (Roppei Tsuda)

She has appeared on the show at least 10 times.

“The joy of books is that they take you to a new world,” Kasukawa said.

His main job is to borrow shelves from real bookstores to organize book fairs.

For example, she selects books dealing with everyday themes such as “Shinjuku and “travel” and attaches handwritten introductory texts to each book.

While the bookstore receives payment when books are sold, Ika Bunko also receives planning fees and proceeds from the sale of original products.

Kasukawa held book fairs at major bookstore chains such as Kinokuniya Shoten, Yurindo, and at local bookstores and public libraries in Tottori, Yamagata, and elsewhere.

Ika Bunko even graced the pages of a men’s fashion magazine.

When the manager held an event for book and music lovers, she lined up a selection of books at a live music club in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

She said her strong point is that she can open Ika Bunko anywhere because it doesn’t need a physical presence.

But when asked about the downside, Kasukawa said, “I think it’s the fact that I don’t have a physical store. People often ask me if I sell books online, and it’s hard to explain.

Ika Bunko has five employees, including the manager and part-time workers in Japan and overseas.

Staff members publish a series of magazine columns and frequently use Twitter (@ika_bunko) to spread information about their favorite books and bookstores, as well as “ika”, which means squid.


Original items with official Ika Bunko (Roppei Tsuda) logo

Ika Bunko is the brainchild of book lovers who came up with the idea in the spring of 2012.

It all started when Kasukawa was thinking about what name she wanted to give her bookstore if she opened one.

The store’s name, which means “squid library,” comes from an iPhone case she was using at the time, which was shaped like a squid.

The other potential name was “Yakisoba Bunko”, which means “stir-fried noodle library”.

She asked an acquaintance to create a squid logo before she started posting a free diary and tweeting on social media every day.

The Air Bookstore has expanded its business since then, earning the respect of other bookstores.

“It’s amazing to stick to the concept of non-physical existence,” said Takeshi Hanamoto, 45, who works at Konno Shoten, a long-established bookstore in Tokyo’s Nishi-Ogikubo district.

He said it’s enviable to see Ika Bunko operating without worrying about sales, inventory and rent.

“But we share the same feeling that we want everyone to read books that we love,” he added.

Hiromitsu Kitada, 38, store manager of Umeda Tsutaya Books in Osaka, praises Ika Bunko’s efforts, saying he uses a wide range of approaches to broaden the bookstore’s scope of operations and create new book lovers. books.

“Selling books at a fixed location is not the only job of booksellers,” he said. “Ika Bunko showed us that those who transmit the joy of books are also called booksellers.”

Kasukawa currently works as a regular employee at a bookstore in Tokyo, living the life of a “two-way bookseller”.

She takes both jobs seriously and doesn’t believe Ika Bunko is a hobby.

Kasukawa never imagined this would continue for 10 years, she said with a smile.

A children’s playground that opened in Yamagata in April features a collection of 1,000 picture books and children’s books, each selected by Ika Bunko members, who decided which books should be included .

“I want to keep trying a lot of things like Ika Bunko always did because I want to convey the fun of books and bookstores even to those who don’t know about books,” Kasukawa said.

About Marcia G. Hussain

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