A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    90% of Japanese people under the age of 30 still read books[UPDATED: 12-27-2017]

    According to consumer surveys, despite what many might believe, the vast majority of Japanese people still read books, including people under the age of 30. However, 10 percent of Japanese people under the age of 30 say that currently they never read books.

    The most popular genre amongst both men and women in Japan who buy books are mysteries and crime fiction, according to the research conducted by DIMS DRIVE, which monitors a panel of 9,566 individuals for its surveys.  

    43 percent of those surveyed, who read a book every three months, buy books from internet sites including Amazon, but 80 percent of these regular book buyers still buy books from bricks and mortar bookstores.  

    77 percent of whose who purchase books online unsurprisingly read online reviews before deciding which books to buy.

    The three most important factors in book selection by Japanese consumers are content (71 percent) author (55 percent) and price (39 percent).
    90% of Japanese people under the age of 30 still read books Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Over a billion books are distributed in Japan every year[UPDATED: 9-23-2017]

    Over a billion copies of books are distributed in Japan every year, according to the Shuppan Nenkan (Publishing Yearbook). However, only 60% (around 640 million copies) of them are actually bought. 

    The overall Japanese book market, the world’s fourth-largest, peaked over 20 years ago in 1996, and has been steadily declining since. Despite this long term overall market shrinkage, sales of e-books, which are dominated by comic books (mostly manga), are steadily increasing. In 2016, for example, the e-book market increased by just under 15 percent.  

    In some countries e-book sales have now peaked or are in decline after a long period of increase while the market for print books has stabilized or is showing the first signs of recovery in these countries. Publishers have had to adopt new strategies, and also books printed on paper have become fashionable and desirable again.  

    This is not the case in Japan, which is still experiencing double-digit e-book growth and declining print sales. The pace of growth still significant. However, it is slowing (it was 30% in 2014, for example), and is forecast to remain positive.
    Over a billion books are distributed in Japan every year Posted by Richard Nathan
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    China buying more Japanese books and publications[UPDATED: 8-14-2017]

    Japan’s book exports to China have grown significantly since 2001, when as a condition of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), China was required to lift restrictions on the importation of books and publications.

    Despite rapidly growing interest in Japanese novels, and Japanese Crime Fiction in particular, China is still, however, only the fourth largest importer of Japanese books behind the United States, Taiwan and South Korea.

    Books by popular Japanese authors such as Higashino Keigo, who had 3 titles amongst the top 5 bestselling books in China in June 2017 (Miracles of the Namiya General Store, Journey Under the Midnight Sun, and The Devotion of Suspect X), are generally published in translation under license and not imported.

    Importation is increasing, but China still only imports half the amount of physical books as Taiwan and only slightly more than Hong Kong. 

    Collectively so-called Greater China, with its massive population and attractive markets that Japanese companies are targeting for growth, now accounts for 29 percent of Japanese book exports.

    Japanese book exports, are said to, follow Japanese business expansion as demand increases in countries where Japanese companies send and post their staff. China at 8 percent is followed by Thailand in the rankings with 6 percent, and subsequently the United Kingdom and the Philippines, both with around 4 percent, and then Australia and Canada making up the top ten export markets for Japanese publications.    
    China buying more Japanese books and publications Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Most frequently requested novel at Peking University library in 2016 was a translated Japanese crime fiction title[UPDATED: 7-3-2017]

    In 2016, a novel by the Japanese crime-writer Keigo Higashino, Mysterious Night, was the third most frequently borrowed book at Peking University Library.

    According to an analysis by the library, only two books, both non-fiction academic related titles, an introduction to psychology and an account of mass hysteria in 18th Century China, were borrowed more often by students at the university, which is considered one of China’s most prestigious and most difficult to gain entry to.  

    Higashino also had the two most requested and reserved books at Peking University Library, The Miracle in the Grocery Store, and Journey Under the Midnight Sun. The only other novel in the top ten was Animal Farm, by George Orwell (1903-1950), the seventh most borrowed book at the library.    
    Most frequently requested novel at Peking University library in 2016 was a translated Japanese crime fiction title Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan runs major trade deficit in books and publications[UPDATED: 6-24-2017]

    Despite the growing interest in Japanese culture, Japan’s exports of publications, including books, is under half of the value of its imports, according to Ministry of Finance data. The top three nations Japan buys books and publications from, according to figures based on publications shipped as cargo, are: 1) the United States, which represents 31 percent of imports; 2) China, 22 percent ; and 3) the United Kingdom, 21 percent. These figures include books printed for Japanese publishers and others in China. Many British educational publishers, for example, now arrange for their titles to be printed in China. The top three export nations for Japanese books and publications account for almost half of all of Japan’s exports. Japan’s top three export markets are: 1) the United States with 23 percent; 2) Taiwan, 14 percent; and 3) South Korea, 11 percent. According to the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) the majority of exports are to Japanese bookstores based in the United State and East Asia. Exports volumes and patterns, are said to, mirror trends in the number of Japanese being posted overseas. These data do not include the import or export of digital content and ebooks. Japanese universities and companies purchase online access to content and research databases. Japan is one of the largest markets for international academic and professional database publishers so when these sales are factored in the ‘content’ trade deficit is even higher.
    Japan runs major trade deficit in books and publications Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japanese libraries still major book buyers[UPDATED: 6-24-2017]

    Despite falling budgets as in most countries, Japanese libraries are still major book buyers, but their purchasing now represents less than 2% of publisher sales. Nevertheless, libraries have been cleverly expanding their lending schemes using the Internet to highlight book availability and increase book borrowing rates. They have been criticized by authors and publishers for being too focused on bestselling and high profile titles and not collection management. Japanese public libraries are visited around 300 million times each year and 715 million books are lent out. The lending ratio is 5.8 books per visitor which compares to 5.7 books bought per annum by book buyers in Japan. The first public library in Japan was founded in 1872 and the Japan Library Association was established in 1892. Every Japanese city with a population of more than 50,000 has a public library. There are more than 3,000 public libraries across Japan.
    Japanese libraries still major book buyers Posted by Koji Chikatani
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    Tsundoku a unique Japanese expression for buying books and leaving them to pile up unread[UPDATED: 6-24-2017]

    Tsundoku, is a unique Japanese expression for buying books and magazines and leaving them to pile up unread; something that many book buyers around the world appear to have in common. But unlike Japanese, most languages don’t have a specific phrase or word to describe this.  The word is a combination of two characters ‘pile up’ and ‘read’. As it has no similar synonym in English it has been listed as one of ten interesting words for book lovers on Oxford Dictionary’s Blog.
    Tsundoku a unique Japanese expression for buying books and leaving them to pile up unread Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Book rental and lending schemes have a very long history in Japan[UPDATED: 6-1-2017]

    Historically, book production and consumption in Japan was focused on the country’s aristocrats, Buddhist monks, Shinto priests and society’s upper classes not the mass market. However, in the early 1800s book lending shops started to appear. According to historians, their number grew from around 650 in Tokyo (or Edo as it was known then) in 1808 – expanding to meet demand – to 800 by 1832. These shops alongside increasingly high literary rates created demand that supported a very high ratio of approximately 1 lending shop per 1,500 people. The capital had a population of over 1 million at the time making it one of the world’s largest cities. Currently, the population per bookstore in Japan is high compared to other nations (estimated at 7,710 per store vs. 23,363 in the United States), but lower than lending shop ratios of the Edo Period. Records also show that there was in fact a book rental shop in Nagoya even earlier, as far back as 1767, which provided a continuous service for 130 years. It built up a collection of more than 20,000 titles during its operating life.
    Book rental and lending schemes have a very long history in Japan Posted by Richard Nathan