Bookstores had mixed reactions to Kinokuniya Co.'s surprise announcement last week that it was purchasing 90 percent of the first edition of renowned writer Haruki Murakami's upcoming book. Some said mom-and-pop bookstores are likely to benefit from the move, while others said it was simply a smart business strategy.

Kinokuniya, a major bookstore chain, said there are two main motives behind the announcement: to get a competitive edge over online bookstores, such as Amazon and Rakuten, and to energize smaller book shops.

"What's most important is to change the current situation where the latest popular books don't really go to real bookstores," said an employee at Kinokuniya who asked not to be named.