Where do you buy books? I remember stopping at a small bookstore on the way home from school, spending a lot of time, doing stand-up reading.
The bookstores in towns are disappearing and people seem to buy books online or big book stores in shopping malls. In these 15 years, the number of small book stores keeps decreasing. Among those small book stores, Iwata book store-a small local book store in Hokkaido is offering a unique service. It is Ichimannen selecton books. Ichimannen is approx US $85. People send $85 and the owner of this book store send the books he chooses for the customer.
Toru Iwata, the owner of this book store started this unique service approx 10 years
ago. This service was introduced on TV last August and he received 250 order in a week. After that also, people keep sending him money, asking to choose books for them.
Why did he start this service? One time, he went to his school reunion and one of almni asked him to recommend some books for him to read, handing him $85. That was the start of this service. Iwata exchanges e-mails or letters asking questions like `What did the customer read last, what does he/she do, what are the magazines they read and so on and picks up the books for each customer. Sometimes he receives letters with personal things. He tries to be close to each customer and recommends books- he prefers to choose paperback books, so he can send more books than he sends hardcover books.
At first, he sends a list of his recommendation and waits for the reply. They exchange e-mails or letters and finally he sends books. Sometimes it takes more rhan few months to pick up books for the particular customer! It seems like the customers enjoy this process too, he says. His father started book store, and he had four stores in Hokkaido but book store business seemed shrinking and they only have two stores now.
Toru, the present owner feels there are potential need. People probably want to read more books but they just do not know what books to read.
When we browzed bookstores in town when we were young , sometimes books whispered (`you got to read me')to us. We often felt `fate' and reached the book on the shelf.
It seems like we are losing the time to meet those books in person. That must be why people ask Toru(he was a typical bookworm and was often scolded by his father to help selling the books rather than reading!)to pick up books for them. I really miss those days doing stand-up reading, hiding from the owner of the small local book store after school on my way home.....