JP Books of Piccadilly
In the basement of Mitsukoshi Department Store on Lower Regent Street is JP Books which is probably the biggest Japanese bookstore in London if not the UK or possibly Europe!
It has Manga, DVDs, CDs, Japanese children’s and adult’s books, and most importantly Japanese as a second language textbooks. The store has had a small redesign lately and I notice it now stocks Japanese electronic dictionaries. The only place I know of in the UK you can buy them. They certainly have a good stock of items and they will order books for you from Japan.
I’m sure all the language books I write about on this site are available here.
Unfortunately they are expensive for Japanese books. Books sourced in the UK are of a standard price but books from Japan are priced using a formula of 100 円 equals £1. And the manga seem even more expensive with a 600 円 manga costing £7.50. The only competitor I know of charges similar prices.
I don’t really understand the practice. I can often order books from Amazon.jp more cheaply even when paying for an express air service is taken into account. JP Books does have higher costs than a bookstore in Japan and those books have to get here somehow but I would expect them to use sea freight for everything except magazines. Adanami Shobo must have similar overheads when they ship their books (albeit remaindered) from Japan but in no way is this reflected in their prices. Even if you were to consider fluctuating exchange rates, things would be really bad if currency would fluctuate 50% in a year, and I’d guess accounts are settled quarterly. Oh well you pays your money and takes your choice.
The big plus of going to a bookstore rather than a web site is that you can browse. (except manga; they’re sealed just like in Japan.) The staff are generally friendly and helpful and will speak to you in Japanese. As I had no idea about indexing in kanji someone helped me find a novel I wanted for a friend. As I had the title written in kanji I think they assumed I had a better Japanese ability than I actually have!
Lastly they have a loyalty scheme where you get a stamp for every £4 spent and after 30 stamps you get a £10 gift voucher. It has been the only loyalty scheme I’ve ever gotten anything with. (I might buy too many books!)
And reading the Mitsukoshi site, it seems you can get a further 10% discount if you apply for a Mitsukoshi membership card (it’s not a credit card). I have yet to do this but will investigate next time I am in Mitsukoshi.