Books Kinokuniya, a global Japanese bookstore chain, is expanding its inventory of comics and graphic novels beyond its specialty of manga in the original Japanese and English translations. The bookstore chain is adding western comics and graphic novels at its New York City store with plans to also host events and add related pop culture merchandise.
Originally hired to handle sales, Terence Irvins has been promoted to graphic novel buyer at Kinokuniya’s flagship store on Sixth avenue at Bryant Park in Manhattan, with responsibility to add a wider range of comics to the store’s inventory.
Kinokuniya probably offers the largest selection of manga in New York. Irvins said he has added two bookcases each of Marvel and DC graphic novels and similar shelf space for independent comics publishers. Look for more inventory to come. The store is also adding promotional events to support to the new comics, hosting a signing by cartoonists—Amy Reeder, Sean Gordon Murphy and Klaus Janson visited the store to sign—represented by Essential Sequential, a company that offers original art, merchandise and sponsors exhibitions of comics artists, at the Bryant Park Store in early July.
PW interviewed Irvins at the recent San Diego Comic-Con International (the interview can be heard on More to Come, the PW Comics World podcast). Irvins has 15 years experience in bookselling working at Barnes & Noble and most recently was assistant store manager at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.
“Kinokuniya’s mission is to reach out to fans around the world and offer them books in their native languages,” Irvins told PW. Irvins said each Kinokuniya stores decides on their inventory but noted that the expansion into western comics was modeled after the product mix in Kinokuniya stores in Singapore and Dubai, its largest store at 68,000 square feet.
“We’re expanding our comics offerings and we intend to be competitive, customer friendly and provide more selection at a great price,” Irvins said. “We’re offering new merchandise, like artists sketchbooks, materials that will separate Kinokuniya from other retailers.”
Kinokuniya Bookstores operate about 80 bookstores around the world, including eight stores in the U.S. among them, stores in L.A., San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle. While Kinokuniya originally served the Japanese community, the store offers titles in English, Japanese and Chinese in addition to a wide range of materials and merchandise to meet the global demand for Japanese pop culture and literary works.
This was Irvins first visit to the San Diego Comic-con and he was there to get the experience, make connections and meet publishers, artist and dealers. Irvins said to look for more and bigger events at the store during Super Week (October 3-12) a series of events (from clubs, lectures and podcasts to food and storytelling) organized to take place in early October in the week preceding New York Comic-Con (October 9-12).
“I’m a geek and an otaku and I have a great love for the comics medium,” Irvins said. “There are big events coming down the line during Super Week and we’ll be a part of that. There will be special guests at the store and at our booth at New York Comic-Con.”