The Short Tail: Tokyo bookstore stocks just one title per week

Morioka Shoten Ginza
© Miyuki Kaneko via Takram Design Engineering

A decade ago, Chris Anderson wrote The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, in which he noted that technology makes it easy to find anything you want among vast inventories. It's how Amazon put the traditional bookstore pretty much out of business, by stocking everything and connecting everyone. It put the little architectural bookstore that I owned a piece of out of business too.

In Tokyo, Yoshiyuki Morioka has solved the problem of competing with the Long Tail: he has opened a bookstore with the ultimate Short Tail: it stocks a single book per week. Jens Jensen describes it in Wallpaper*

To call the space minimal would be an overstatement; the raw concrete walls and ceiling have been given a coat of white paint and the concrete floor left as is. The only furniture is a vintage chest of drawers that now doubles as a counter, Morioka’s personal work desk and a flimsy table displaying the single book.

According to the store's designer, Takram, Morioka believes that a bookstore with a single book will "will offer deeper understanding, closer relationship with the reader." Takram also designed everything from the canvas bag to the typeface. Its branding statement says it all:

Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single book
available at a time, for six days.
Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single room
with an event to gather every night.
Morioka Shoten,
a single room with a single book

This is a wonderful idea, the best response yet to the problem of Amazon. Who needs inventory when you just stock one book a week. Just one carefully selected choice, housed in a tiny beautiful place. It's the future of the bookstore.

Found on PSFK, which notes that it is "a curated approach that combats decision fatigue and makes browsing a lot quicker." That's for sure.

The Short Tail: Tokyo bookstore stocks just one title per week
If you can't beat Amazon, you can at least out-curate it.

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