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Nearly 30% of municipalities in Japan have no physical bookstores - The Mainichi

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the declining number of physical bookstores in Japan, with nearly 30% of municipalities having no bookstores due to population decline and the rise of online shopping.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Declining Bookstores in Japan

1. What are the key facts about the decline of physical bookstores in Japan?

  • Nearly 30% of Japan's 1,741 municipalities had no physical bookstores as of March 2023, up from 26.2% in September 2022.
  • In some prefectures like Okinawa, Nagano, and Nara, over 50% of municipalities had no bookstores.
  • Rural areas suffering from depopulation have been hit the hardest, while all 23 wards in central Tokyo still had bookstores.
  • The total number of real bookstores (excluding secondhand and university stores) decreased by 609 from the previous survey.
  • Combining municipalities with just one bookstore and those with none, 47.4% of cities, towns, and villages have limited or no access to physical bookstores.

2. What are the reasons cited for the decline of physical bookstores?

  • The impact of population shrinkage and the prevalence of online stores.
  • Rising personnel costs and declining sales, as estimated book and magazine sales dropped 6% in 2023.

3. What is the government's response to the issue?

  • The central government is searching for effective measures to prevent physical bookstores from disappearing, as they are considered important for expanding knowledge.
  • The industry minister expressed a vision of "aiming for a world where libraries, online sites and bookstores coexist" and launched a project team to promote the bookstore business.

[02] Industry Outlook and Recommendations

1. What is the industry's perspective on the challenges facing bookstores?

  • The "environment surrounding bookstores becomes harsher as personnel costs rise while sales are down," according to an executive of the Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture.

2. What recommendations are made for bookstores to address the challenges?

  • Bookstores, in cooperation with publishers and writers, need to make their stores more attractive to customers.
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