Question: How to find a specific fiction book in a Japanese bookstore?

I voted to close this question as off topic because it seems to me that the question is primarily about the common practice in bookstores in Japan and that the language plays only a marginal role in the question. But the language seems to play at least some role here. Is this question on topic or off topic? Can we distill some criteria which are applicable to the future questions?

  • I was going to ask a more general meta-question here but this will also work I suppose. Jun 14, 2011 at 4:11

3 Answers 3


I'll repeat my comment here: There's currently no other place to pose this arguably interesting and helpful question and it's not blatantly off-topic, just borderline. I think we'd do well to include it in the scope of this site.

  • 2
    I do not think that “arguably interesting and helpful” and “there is no other place to ask” are compelling reasons. But I agree that it is not blatantly off-topic. Jun 14, 2011 at 3:37
  • @Tsuyoshi I'm basically advocating a when in doubt, go with what's more helpful to users stance. I don't see any harm in allowing this question, at least for the time being. If the site was overwhelmed with off-topic questions, that'd be a different topic, but that's not really an issue right now.
    – deceze
    Jun 14, 2011 at 3:52
  • culture questions were specifically outlined in this sites creation as out of scope. There is currently a Culture wiki in the definition stage where this question would be better suited, if it ever gets created. discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/1663/… Jun 14, 2011 at 4:44
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    @Mark Quoting from your link: Any discussion of culture must relate to language. If the question can stand alone without its linguistic aspect, it should be considered off-topic for this SE. The question now is, can this question stand on its own without any linguistic aspect? I'd say no, since some sort of linguistic ordering is probably involved here. This may be proven wrong by an answer, but that's not obvious from the question itself. If the answer is "It's a cultural thing and has nothing to do with the language" so be it, but that doesn't invalidate the question.
    – deceze
    Jun 14, 2011 at 4:54

I'm also inclined to agree that the question is borderline, but it is also pretty closely tied to language as I see it as possibly being related to how words are organized in a dictionary though with a bit more in the way of nuances to it. Likewise, if we apply the removal of the linguistic aspect from the questions I don't see how the question can be phrased since organization of books does tend to be a language specific topic.

Also, one thing to note about the question, it is what could be considered a bit of a one off in that once it is answered an entire class of questions can be covered by it when it comes to duplication. Finally, it is likely extremely useful to most novices of the language in that it cannot be readily answered though most basic book exercises.


I am happy to admit that when I asked the question I was fully aware that it might be controversial and be at the edge of our topic boundary. But since the site is in its infancy and that boundary is not well defined, indeed our faq says nothing, that it would be well worth asking to help clarify what is on and off topic, even if it means sacrificing some of the old hard-earned reputation (-:

Plus I've really wanted to know the answer to this question for years and in this case even my Japanese friends haven't really helped.

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    I had the same problem the other day. I usually never look at the fiction section in book stores in Japan but tried to look for 1Q84. I couldn't find it. I looked everywhere in several bookstores and still couldn't find it. Jan 29, 2012 at 2:47

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