Books Are Not Dead

Cult favorite Japanese bookstore announces Austin flagship

Cult favorite Japanese bookstore announces Austin flagship

kinokuniya bookstore
Though our Kinokuniya may not be as grand as the brand's Sydney, Australia outpost, the company says they may build up to two more stores in Austin.  Courtesy of Photo courtesy of Kinokuniya

Japanese bookstore chain and cult favorite Kinokuniya is coming to Austin, with the city's first store set to open at 6929 Airport Blvd. in spring 2018.

Kinokuniya is one of the largest bookstore chains in Japan, with nearly 30 stores abroad in Southeast Asia, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates. The chain was founded in Tokyo in 1927 and began importing English books in 1949.

It opened its first overseas store in San Francisco in 1969 to provide the Japanese community with books and magazines, and also to introduce Japanese culture to the locals. There are currently 10 stores in the United States, in West Coast cities such as Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, as well as New York and Chicago.

The chain made its Texas debut in 2016, opening its first branch in Carrollton, a suburb northwest of Dallas. A second branch opened in North Texas in Plano in April 2017.

The stores host a variety of events, from book signings to horror storytelling sessions to anime meet-ups. They focus not only on Japanese literature, but also the fusion of Asian and American pop culture, with a wide selection of Japanese- and English-language books, ranging from manga to art to fashion. The ratio of Japanese- to English-language titles is generally about 3-to-7.

The stores also carry a wide variety of stationery and other merchandise from both Japan and the United States, including Kinokuniya's exclusive collaboration items with popular Japanese brands.

John Nguyen, from NewQuest Properties, which has helped Kinokuniya in its Texas expansion, says that the Airport Boulevard location will be Austin's "flagship" store. "We'll very likely open another store in Austin, possibly even two," he says.