Archive for June 13, 2009

Kinokuniya – Main Store in New York City, with some musing on Shinjuku’s Kino

June 13, 2009 3 comments


This is not from my mouth, but from the website. Kinokuniya, located at 1073 Avenue of the Americas (Bet. 40th and 41st St). Directly across the street from Bryant Park, behind the New York Public Library with the Stone Lions of Patience and Fortitude. How I love this part of Midtown..

I mention the book store frequently as Kino on my Twitter, and other mentions of it. Several years ago, Kino was located at 49th street and across from the Rockefeller Center, close to the Nintendo Store. Of course now it has moved to a larger location. While I am not sure on the success of that move, as I do miss the old store, and its quaint music announcing its closing time over the PA system, this move to the new location has tighten my bookstore hopping route, and probably has led to the store’s ability to market better its resources (Zaiya, not just Japanese books) and events (guests, workshops).

So of course I get to go to Bryant Park slightly more than usual. Better spot for cosplayers to meet up and photo shoot to their hearts content, although I have never gone to one. I recently caught an interview with John, who is the manager of the store, and yes now after my trip to Japan. I have to say Kino is a store of its own quality.

In the NYC branch, there are three levels, the basement, and the second floor, with the first floor in the middle. On the first floor, there are the magazines, English books on various Asian countries, cookbooks, a section of fashion including a line from, representations of the other two floors, and restroom facilities. There is an escalator going up to the second floor, and an elevator to the basement with stairs leading up and down to the various floors.

The second floor is where the store events, artbooks, DVDs, cds, mangas, graphic novels are. This is also the floor where there is an extension of Cafe Zaiya as a small cafe. I love going there to sit and enjoy a cold or hot drink, while I occasionally read, write, or look through some of my purchases. On Fridays when I am at that Zaiya, I am waiting for my friends to join me, from their weekly excursions in Chinatown. While there is not of a wide food selection as the Zaiya Library Way (41 Street) branch, across the Bryant Park, there are pastries, and drinks. There is a menu of Tea fortes, which is a specific type of tea bag that comes in a cute pot and a cup. Also drinks, and food here are served on glassware, which is different from the plastic/paper ware in the Library Way branch. It was at this second floor that I was able to see TMR, HAL-KALI and most recently Ai Kwashima, since there is a lot of collaboration with Samurai Beat Radio, and New York Anime Festival. I wrote about those experiences on this blog, under events.

The basement is where there is the stationary, more Japanese books, Japanese language guides, Washi paper/origami, and a specific Children section. Recently they’re having a specific sale on Bento Boxes and Photo albums. All pretty fancy, and very nice Japanese products.

There is a no photos policy allowed in the store, so of all the times I go to the store, there are no pictures on my part, because I am unsure of what is to be allowed in picture taking. So if you want to see the store, I would say you can visit the store yourself upon visiting NYC, or search for pictures on Flickr, or if there are comments, I would probably include some on my own flickr account.

One neat thing about this store, other than the location is the fact that often, they would get certain manga/graphic arts title earlier than let’s say Borders. Because I consistently go to the store, I purchased a membership to their Anime/Manga discount card, which only gives a 10% discount for every specific Anime product, not counting the Studio Ghibli products or Stationary items in the basement. Not really much to really like about the card itself, but as a patron, one must go where the supposedly discounts are. I really wish they can have a point card system like what Asahiya has or like what Book Off use to have, but so far no point card system in sight. Also the Anime/Manga membership card is set to expire next year, so who know what will happen next year.

I will continue to go to the store, so yep Kino hasn’t seen the last of me yet.

Oh I forgot to mention to other day when I wrote about this, the manga and publications in the store are mostly shrink wrapped, that is a practice that I saw in Japanese stores a lot, and this I really appreciate. To try and get people to purchase it though, there are sample copies to pursue. Still if they would adapt this format in Borders or Barns & Noble, won’t that be a better idea? I wonder though what would happen to the plastics though. ^_^


Prior to going to Japan, I learned from Peter of Jlist through his Twittering, that there was a six story Kino in Japan, so of course on my first full day of Tokyo before I went to Kyoto. I had my friend take me to Kino, and impressed I was! It is located at the New South Exit side of the Shinjuku Station, past a Starbucks, and Krispy Kreme, where there is always a mob of people waiting. Krispy Kreme in my opinion is really not all that, but since its an American business, what else can I say, globalization at work.

I went and enjoyed every last minute of it.. >_< Six stories.. my mind is just boggled by that fact, also they were the only bookstore that carried International books and so I wasn’t far from a source of books to purchase and read on the Tokyo Metro. I was pretty surprise to have ran out of reading materials, early on – so this place was a great place to go for English books, and yes this was the only bookstore I found to carry English titles. Everything is at the yen price, so it can end up costing more for the item, like the artbooks I purchase in Kino NYC or Asahiya, because after all English titles are imported in a Japanese country. Still I am grateful, and for this – I would definitely say that this is the bookstore to go to, if you’re an English tourist traveling to Tokyo, and need to find some English books.

Categories: Features
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