Slight/Sleight of Hand

The January edition of Forbes has this article on a Japanese bookseller, Keiichi Kikuchi,(Iconoclast) that's managed to avoid an ongoing industry slump. What's his secret? Cross-merchandising: i.e. grouping like minded items together. For example:

Kikuchi sells CDs, pictures, figurines and other paraphernalia by linking them to the specialty books on the store shelves. On the same shelf as, say, the novel Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami you might find the Beatles' Rubber Soul album and books that inspired the Japanese author, including Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's; a photo collection of Audrey Hepburn, who starred in the movie of the same title, rounds off the display. The travel section might offer magazines, tour guides, model jumbo jets, compact suitcases, chunky hotel key holders and retro push-button phones once common in U.S. hotel rooms.

His managers are free to make their own assortments in the franchise stores. Sometimes though, such collections may make more of a statement than was intended:

On a stand selling pictures of Saibaba--an Afro-sporting Hindu mystic who claims to have the power to conjure up jewelry from thin air--are party wigs and do-it-yourself magic tricks.

Subtle commentary, sly dig or just Japanese camp? You decide. I have a feeling the Baba himself might just be amused by the whole thing.

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- February 9, 2006 7:30 PM // Books