Japan author Murakami releases latest book

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Popular Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s new book has gone on sale, with a major domestic bookstore chain buying 90 percent of the initial print run in a direct challenge to online rivals.

Murakami’s autobiographical essay, which translates into English as “Novelist by Profession”, appeared in bookstore shelves on Thursday.

The new book has grabbed headlines in Japanese media, partly because the Kinokuniya bookstore chain scooped up the bulk of the initial 100,000 copies of Murakami’s work in a bid to compete with online giants such as Amazon.

“I want customers take these books in hand and feel them,” Toru Nishine, a manager of the flagship Kinokuniya store in Tokyo’s bustling Shinjuku neighbourhood.

“You can smell it and feel the binding. You can read part of it before deciding whether to buy it. That is the most attractive thing about actual bookstores.”

Last year, a group of Japanese publishers lashed out at Amazon’s new book sale rules which they claim treat publishers unequally, after US and European authors accused the online retailer of using strong-arm negotiating tactics.

The 66-year-old Murakami, who reportedly spends much of his time in the United States, has a cult following for his intricately-crafted tales of the absurdity and loneliness of modern life, and peppers his work with references to pop culture.

The author of works including Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood, he has repeatedly been tipped as a future Nobel laureate.

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