Photo/Illutration A shared office, dubbed the “Share Lounge,” in Daikanyama Tsutaya Bookstore in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. (Kazumi Tako)

Tsutaya, a leading bookstore chain, is set to open dozens of bookshops in Tokyo to serve as shared offices and where customers can relax as they would in a lounge.

Under the concept of “Share Lounge,” the operator, Culture Convenience Club Co., will expand the number of bookstores with the service to 100 in the Tokyo metropolitan area over the next three years.

The company said Nov. 26 it may expand the business to other parts of Japan.

“We believe the profitability of our bookstores will go up by adding the function of shared lounges,” said Tomohiro Umetani, president of CCC Tsutaya Books Co. “By setting up bookstores that make money, we want to contribute to a Japan that has at least one bookstore in every municipality.”

The Share Lounge, which will come with high-speed Wi-Fi, is designed to allow users to work there, in addition to reading books and conversing with friends.

The company embarked on the project after it received positive feedback from customers during trials of the novel program that started two years ago.

With 187 seats in a 660 square-meter space, its first Share Lounge will open at its flagship Daikanyama Tsutaya Bookstore in the capital’s Shibuya Ward on Dec. 3.

A carefully assorted selection of 3,500 books on business, art and architecture will be available to customers for read, together with free drinks and nuts.

The hourly rate for use of the shared office will be 1,650 yen ($15), including tax. The company also plans to serve alcohol at some point and allow customers to spend the entire day on bookstore premises.

Its decision to open bookstores with shared offices follows CCC’s operations of those with cafes and event spaces where people can hang out.

It decided to offer chargeable spaces after its cafes proved so popular, they were often filled to capacity.

CCC said the lounges will be profitable as food materials and personnel costs will account for 40 percent of sales, compared with 60 percent in regular cafes.