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"We turn'd o'er many books together."
June 9, 2013 10:36 AM   Subscribe

The avant-garde art of book stacking in stores of Japan.
posted by Fizz (22 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dr. Ray Stantz: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.

Dr. Peter Venkman: You're right, no human being would stack books like this.

Sorry, had to. In the actual link, I especially like the "flower towers," the giant spiral, and the blue spiral.
posted by limeonaire at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Man, some of these are apocalypse in waiting. Couldn't get away with it in other countries, mayhem in the isles.
posted by stbalbach at 10:45 AM on June 9, 2013


Yes, my inner merchandiser was screaming at the employees about the kids who want that one they can reach and get all of them on their head.

My inner kid was like 'Neat! I want that one!'
posted by carsonb at 11:08 AM on June 9, 2013


My toddler brain is telling me to run over and knock those down. My fussy perfectionist brain wants me to take a ruler to those and see if they're as perfect as they look. My douchebag brain wants me to make each one slightly but noticeably irregular to drive other people's fussy perfectionist brains crazy.

The ones that don't have regularly-stacked copies of the towered books available within easy reach are the only ones I don't like.
posted by elizardbits at 11:08 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a word for perfectly cute and hyper-organized Japanese style. When I see the style in the wild, I point and yell, "TETSUUUOOOOOO!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I worked at a Waldenbooks lo these many years ago and we did this sort of thing, but it was always from the floor and designed to basically make extra grabbing-height stands for super popular books. Also we were bored a lot.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:38 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't see a lemon on top of any of the stacks.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:43 AM on June 9, 2013


Damn, just as I was thinking "I would totally be the asshole that tried to play Jenga with these" I got to the "No Jenga!" pic.

But yeah, I'm pretty sure I've seen similar stuff at stores in the States and China.
posted by kmz at 12:08 PM on June 9, 2013


As eye-catching as these are, it seems sort of counterproductive to make your customers afraid to approach the merchandise.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:20 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would have to leave the store. My brain would be screaming at me to pull one out from the base.
posted by arcticseal at 1:36 PM on June 9, 2013


On the one hand, these are really eye-catching, as intended; on the other hand, how the dickens are you supposed to buy the dang book if you can't reach to haul one off the top of the pile?!? Pretty, but to a short person like myself, these are counterproductive.
posted by easily confused at 3:14 PM on June 9, 2013


They're the stacks the store pulls from to replenish the pile on the table that's set up for shopping. When a book is expected to sell super-well, they order a lot of it, and, well, books take up space and bookstores don't always have a ton of non-customer-facing storage. So you put them out on the floor, and you try to make a virtue of necessity.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:19 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


As eye-catching as these are, it seems sort of counterproductive to make your customers afraid to approach the merchandise.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:20 PM on June 9 [1 favorite +] [!]


Shoppers shouldn't be afraid of books. Books should be afraid of their shoppers.

S is for Stacking.
posted by Fizz at 3:38 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Complete side-track question: have Japanese bookstores not yet been katamari'd out of existence by online mega-retailers, like those in the US and Europe?
posted by rh at 3:49 PM on June 9, 2013


Complete side-track question: have Japanese bookstores not yet been katamari'd out of existence by online mega-retailers, like those in the US and Europe?

A good question. I am merely guessing here but maybe the retail experience of purchasing manga/comics in a book store is some how better or built around a more social interaction, maybe?
posted by Fizz at 3:54 PM on June 9, 2013


My experience is also that they like to wedge as many books in to a shelf as possible, meaning you have to exert considerable force to remove the book from the high-pressure zone surrounding it, then possibly try to re-insert without damaging it. I've experienced this occasionally in the US but every store in Japan seems to do this.

have Japanese bookstores not yet been katamari'd out of existence by online mega-retailers, like those in the US and Europe?

There definitely appear to be a lot more bookstores remaining, yeah. My understanding is that while online sales have had an effect, it's much less pronounced so far than in the US.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:36 PM on June 9, 2013


Have Japanese bookstores not yet been katamari'd out of existence by online mega-retailers, like those in the US and Europe?

One explanation from the Japan Book Publishers Association. Bookstores are down, but still going strong.

"Book stores are able to stock publications without any risk because of the consignment system. Under the Consignment Sales System, retailers and wholesalers can freely return unsold publications within a set period of time (usually six months for newly released books). So, even small booksellers are able to distribute a large selection of books with no risk, and specialty bookstores can stock titles with small print runs or a slow turnover. Conversely, the consignment sales system is also effective for mass-market publications aimed at nationwide audiences. The unique system of book consignment serves consumers well because it offers more choice, and it serves booksellers well because it helps them maintain their vitality"

Also, (with exceptions) "Readers are able to buy publications for fixed price anywhere in Japan because of the Resale Price Maintenance System."
posted by Gotanda at 6:11 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Book stores are able to stock publications without any risk because of the consignment system."

I'm under the impression that a similar system is present in the US: "Historically, publishers have agreed to take back returns and absorb the loss to entice bookstores to stock their titles.".

Maybe it has more to do with the urban style which makes it cheap and convenient to have small but highly-accessible shops, so that for the average person, popping in to a bookstore on the way home from work and buying something might take less than a minute's time.
posted by alexei at 6:28 PM on June 9, 2013


The price fixing would seem to be the biggest factor preventing online retailers from undercutting brick and mortar outlets.
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 PM on June 9, 2013


YOU'RE not a Japanese kid.

Also, bet there are shelves and kid-height slanted display shelves filled with the same books as were used in a display.

Kidsbooks occasionally has some obscenely cool book promotion displays, and the rest of the stuff is always at least nice. I suspect it's the store coming up with them rather than a publisher paying extra for a store-front set. Don't know, though.

Surprised that I can't find a collection of their storefront displays online, not even a 'neighbourhood' thing. New project!
posted by porpoise at 8:42 PM on June 9, 2013


#1 Most Valuable Customer Yomiko Readman unavailable for comment.
posted by maryr at 10:36 PM on June 9, 2013


Japan has resale price maintenance laws that specifically restrict retailers from selling at less than the suggested price. It covers books, magazines, newspapers, music CDs, music cassettes, and records.
posted by armage at 11:03 PM on June 9, 2013


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