The way he tried to save bookshops

August 8, 2020 By mk

Like many other parts of the world, Covid-19 significantly affected the lives of the people in Japan.

Although bookstores were excluded from the shutdown list, during the state of the emergency period from April 9 to May 25, all the business in town were heavily damaged and have not yet recovered until now.

Shops were isolated even before the state of emergency.

For small bookshops, it was more than a disaster; I remember a small bookshop in Setagaya (setting place of Wind-UP) posted a notice “Please please wear the mask, sanitize your hands and come alone without chat when you enter the shop to help us to survive.”

Due to ventilation issues, we only buy secondhand today, however, if you know what you want, please let us know, we will pick it up for you. Thanks for your corporation.”

Although he did not mention anything on it, Murakami surely saved bookshops by the way that only a popular author could do; he published three new books in three months;

I know that he should not be compared to other people in the age of 71, but am still inspired by his activity level. It undoubtedly assisted many bookshops and the people who work there and their family by pleasuring the readers at a difficult time. Isn’t it amazing?

In May 2015 on his temporary website, he answered the question from a reader who felt difficult to find what to read in a bookshop. Murakami wrote “In some cases, the book will find you instead you find the book. If you cannot find what to read, you can wait until the book will find you.”
(Murakami-san no Tokoro (JP))

When we try to find a book to read, at the same time, the book is looking for us to be read. Isn’t it nice to imagine if a book is looking for you at the bookshop?

<Added on February 24, 2021,>
According to Nikkei News on 22 February 2021, sales of “physical bookstores” increased by 4% in 2020 over the previous year in Japan; for the first time since 2000, the stats started. It was mainly because of the mega-success of the “Demon Slayer” comic. Still, considering the tough time for physical outlets due to Covid and continuing threat by e-Commerce (Amazon increased its sales by 25% in 2020), the result was terrific. I believe 3 Murakami books published in the first half of 2020 undoubtedly contributed to the outcome.

Here, I have recently noticed that a number of young people born after the millennium are more eco-conscious, not only a traditional “eco” such as climate change or recycling stuff but an “eco-system” as an economic terminology. Respecting the content creators’ intellectual property, they tend to ask whether they could contribute to the people who “actually created, acted or/and sang” through “proper sellers” without benefiting the people/companies of piracy when they buy something. They are also conscious of the importance of the supply chain that presents and delivers goods/contents.

I believe the slight revival of physical bookstores is partly reflecting such a trend even amid the pandemic.