Books Join Lineup in Japanese C-stores

At a FamilyMart store, bookshelves occupy space beside the traditional c-store shelves.

October 04, 2018

OGI, Japan – Ever wanted to browse through a bookstore while munching on your favorite c-store snack? At a FamilyMart location in Japan, customers can do just that, Japan Times reports. Bookshelves share space with the traditional convenience stores shelving. In-store dining tables provide space for customers to read books and sip coffee—much like American booksellers such as Barnes & Noble.

The FamilyMart bookstore is the first one to marry books with convenience items. FamilyMart partnered with Nippon Shuppan Hanbai Inc.’s Sekibunkan Bookstore Co. on the store. “Bookstores are rooted in communities and have strong affinity with convenience stores,” according to a FamilyMart official. The chain will open other hybrid locations, mostly through updating existing bookstores to incorporate FamilyMart convenience items.

Other c-store chains are also getting into the bookselling business. Lawson has joined with Bunkyodo to operate 10 bookstore-convenience store units. Lawson will add bookshelves to its standard magazine racks—currently, it has about 3,000 such locations and will up that number to 4,000 by February. 7-Eleven Japan already allows customers to order magazines from its stores for pickup at the store, mainly focusing on specialty publications, such as gardening, not easily found at major booksellers.

In Japan, bookstores in rural areas have been closing lately because of pressure from online shopping. Convenience stores see the hybrid model as one that will boost sales and attract new customers.