Honey & Clover Vol. 8 rocked!!! (Okay, so I’m almost a year late…)

For no particular reason, I shall talk about Kinokuniya in Singapore today. Bear with me here…

Honey and Clover
Note: This image has nothing to do with Kinokuniya

As you probably know, Kinokuniya is a Japanese bookstore chain. The main branch is in Shinjuku in Tokyo. Here’s picture of its signboard because I somehow forgot to take the rest of the building when I was there…

Currently there are Kinokuniya branches in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and the United States.

Out of the the three Kinokuniya branches in Singapore, the Ngee Ann branch at Orchard Road has the best selection of books in general, the Liang Court branch has the best selection of Japanese manga and light novels and the smallest branch at Bugis is… let’s pretend it doesn’t exist.

Outside of Japan, Kinokuniya is notoriously expensive compared to most other bookstores, but it’s one of the few means to obtain Japanese books in those countries without resorting to online orders. Kinokuniya takes custom orders and helps you source for the books you want through its Japanese branches. Best of all, they don’t charge extra for this service.

Order slips
Order slips, they symbolize my money soon to be gone

I usually have a few order slips with me in my wallet all the time. They are sort of like good luck charms (well, more like bad luck for my wallet).

My current orders are:

  • NHK ni Youkoso Vol. 5 (damn sea shipments)
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! Vol. 15 Limited Edition
  • Hayate no Gotoku Vol. 5 (out of stock)
  • Suzuka Vol. 12 (coming this week)
  • Death Note Vol. 13 Limited Edition (gonna cost a bomb)

The great thing about ordering/preordering books through Kinokuniya (in Singapore, not sure about other countries) is that there’s no deposit and you are not forced to collect your orders. If you decide that you don’t want it anymore, they’ll just shelve the book. On the flipside, Kinokuniya is barely cheaper than buying from Amazon JP through EMS.

And by the way, they are unable to fulfill orders for eroge-related materials… Well, sometimes they can; it all depends on luck. I managed to get my order through two out of three tries (the one that got killed was a School Days novel). Still, Amazon JP is a safer bet for those, assuming you use a third party shipping service since Amazon JP does not offer international shipping for such books.

Kinokuniya Singapore has a very arbritary pricing system for Japanese books that has not changed since the time when 100 yen was 1.60 SGD (it’s 1.40 SGD now). Based on the current exchange rate, tankoubou from a standard Kodansha shounen series, such as Negima!, costs 10 SGD per volume (about 6 USD). That is just about twice the price of the official retail price of 390 yen (5.30 SGD). One can only imagine how much its profit margin has grown over the past one year due to the decreasing value of yen to SGD…

Another quirk with Kinokuniya Singapore is that different branches receive new Japanese releases at different times. Major series such as Death Note and Negima! are always sent by air, so they are on the shelves here about two to three days after their release dates. However, the Ngee Ann branch receives less popular titles such as Suzuka and NHK ni Youkoso! through sea shipment, which can take two weeks or more. The Liang Court branch on the other hand gets those less popular titles by air. Thus if you preorder books from the Ngee Ann branch, you may end up collecting them two weeks after your friend picks them up off a shelf at the Liang Court branch…

This is mainly because the Liang Court branch caters more to the Japanese expats who, for some reason, like to go there (it’s really not a very popular place). Another side effect of this is that although the Ngee Ann branch has a pretty good selection of Japanese novels, there were no light novels (e.g. Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Shakugan no Shana) stocked there at all. The Liang Court branch on the other hand has two shelves of light novels and constantly receives some new titles. But just last week, Ngee Ann brought some light novels over from Liang Court and rearranged their manga shelves to accomodate the new additions. I attribute this to the number of people who ordered Haruhi novels from Ngee Ann in recent weeks. :)

On a final note, Kinokuniya here has a membership that costs 20 SGD a year. It gets you 10% off ALL purchases except stationeries and sometimes even 20% during promotional events. I must have “saved” myself a few hundred dollars by now…

Anyway, that ends my short little introduction to Kinokuniya in Singapore… Okay, wtf made me do this? Seriously. =_=

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