There’s always talk of hard-space bookstores shutting down with the advent of e-books and online retail stores like Amazon. So, a new bookstore in Tokyo has taken a new approach in an attempt to keep the brick-and-mortar shop open. They are charging a cover charge. The minimally-styled Bunikitsu opened last December with their new bookstore model. (There are pics of the store in this article.)
The first floor is free to the public and features all kinds of book exhibitions. But once they reach the admissions counter, customers must pay about $15 USD to continue through the rest of the store, containing about 30K books and magazines. But the cover charge covers more than the mere perusal of the written word. They can stay all day, with no “helpful” sales associate trying to move them along. There is a café where one can sit and read while drinking free tea or coffee. There are rooms where people can study and even work privately.
The bookstore is actually the brain child of a collective of companies, the result of a mutual desire to keep the hard-space bookstore alive. And despite the cover charge, the store has had more than its fair share of customers more than willing to pay the cover charge.
But there are naysayers to the business model. Some people find it creative and impressive but don’t see it lasting once the novelty wears off. Some fear that may already be beginning to happen.
So tell me… would you be willing to pay a cover charge for access to a bookstore? If so, what would the bookstore have to offer for you to be willing to pay to browse? Tell me in the comments!