Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    In 2017 JK Rowling was overtaken by a Japanese crime fiction writer as the top royalty-earning international author in China[UPDATED: 2-27-2018]

    In 2017 the Japanese crime fiction master Keigo Higashino, author of The Devotion of Suspect X and many other titles, overtook JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series as the highest non-Chinese royalty-earning author in China. 

    JK Rowling has headed the annual ranking for a number of years and Higashino is the first Japanese author to make it to the top of this list. His royalties surpassed US$3.5 million (2.2 million RNB) in 2017 – a year when the Chinese translation of his Miracles of the Namiya General Store was Amazon’s bestselling paperback in China, and the website’s third bestselling e-book. His novel Journey Under the Midnight Sun was also Amazon’s fourth bestselling paperback in 2017. 

    According to China Daily, Higashino’s novels have made it into Amazon’s top 10 bestseller rankings for four consecutive years since the Chinese edition of Miracles of the Namiya General Store was first published in 2014. 

    Born in Osaka, Higashino started writing novels while still working as an engineer at Nippon Denso Co, a leading supplier of advanced technology for the automobile industry. He won the coveted Edogawa Rampo Literary Prize, which is awarded annually to the finest mystery work, in 1985 aged 27, for his novel After School (Hokago). He subsequently quit his job to focus full-time on writing.
    In 2017 JK Rowling was overtaken by a Japanese crime fiction writer as the top royalty-earning international author in China Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Book prices in Japan are fixed[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    Despite Japan’s 1953 Anti-Monopoly Law, books published in Japan are still sold at fixed prices, as was the case before the Second World War.

    Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Law has an exception for publications. Under the Resale Price Maintenance System publications, including books, must be sold across Japan at a fixed price.

    According to the industry “this enables the distribution of a wide variety of titles in small volumes and allows for royalties to be paid on books with small initial print runs”.

    It has, however, created opportunities for secondhand booksellers like Book-Off, that sell titles that are technically secondhand, but are in almost new condition.

    At pixel time Book-Off, founded in 1991, has more than 1,000 stores and annual sales of 52 billion yen. Other opportunists, wanting to sell books at low prices, exploit Amazon Marketplace.

    In Japan books are not exempt from Consumption (sales) Tax, as is the case in some countries. However, e-books sold into Japan by international (non-Japan-based) retailers are exempt from this tax.
    Book prices in Japan are fixed Posted by Richard Nathan
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    One of Japan’s major bookshop chains is named after a highly innovative trendsetting publisher of woodblock prints[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Juzaburo Tsutaya (1750-1797) was an Edo Period (1603-1867) publisher of woodblock prints with the Midas touch. He nurtured many of Japan’s most famous ukiyo-e (woodblock) artists and authors and had a “discerning eye for discovering new talent” as well as an amazing talent for promotion. 

    He successfully mentored many including: the polymath Santo Kyoden (1761-1816), the highly regarded Utamaro Kitagawa (1753-1806) and the somewhat mysterious Sharaku Toshusai who was only active for a 10-month period during which he created many iconic prints that helped define the genre, and are now familiar images worldwide. 

    Tsutaya is probably most famous for turning Kusazoshi books (genres of popular woodblock-printed illustrated literature) and ukiyo-e into fashionable, must-have items. And has been described as one of the most important Edo Period trendsetters. He also published and distributed the Yoshiwara saiken, an extremely popular guidebook to the Yoshiwara licensed “pleasure district”. 

    Tsutaya, currently one of Japan’s trendiest retailers and bookshops, founded by Muneaki Musada, takes its name from a business owned by its founder’s grandfather, which was called Tsutaya in homage of the trendsetting risk-taking Juzaburo Tsutaya. 

    According to the company’s website: “Though many years fall between our times and the Edo Period” Culture Convenience Club (the name of the corporate owner of the bookstore chain) has the stated goal to “become the premiere Planning Company for Information Distribution” emulating “the achievements of Juzaburo Tsutaya”. 

    This is a hard act to emulate as the historical Tsutaya had the rare combination of having a brilliant knack for promotion as well as being able to manage highly creative talent. 

    Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831), the bestselling author and illustrator of titles such as the comic novel Shank’s Mare, which follows two amiable scoundrels on a madcap trip along the Tokaido highway leading from Tokyo to Kyoto, is another example of a highly creative individual who formed part of the Tsutaya talent pool. 

    Ikku, who was born in Shizoka, lived with Tsutaya as a young man and acknowledged that this experience and the diverse range of people he met at Tsutaya’s house helped him develop his stories and become probably the most successful author of his generation. He was reportedly the first person in Japan to be able to support himself on literary earnings alone. 

    The modern-day Tsutaya opened its first shop in 1983 in Osaka and the “Planning Company” now runs Japan’s largest bookstore and movie, music and game-rental chain. Its founder has become one of Japan’s richest men; something that would probably delight his grandfather who admired Juzaburo Tsutaya so much.
    One of Japan’s major bookshop chains is named after a highly innovative trendsetting publisher of woodblock prints Posted by Richard Nathan
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    The number of bookstores in Japan is 60% higher than the typical print run of a newly published title[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    For newly published titles to be stocked at all book retailing outlets in Japan, initial print runs of  16,000 are often said to be required. However, most new books have print runs of less than 10,000.

    The number of stores as well as the size of initial print runs have been falling, the number of bookshops, for example, has fallen by almost 40 percent since the 1990s.
    The number of bookstores in Japan is 60% higher than the typical print run of a newly published title Posted by Koji Chikatani
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    Japan has 14,000 bookshops, and more bookshops per capita than the United States[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    At pixel time Japan had 14,000 bookshops, according to the Japan Book Publishers Association (JPA), of which 4,000 belong to the Japan Booksellers Federation.

    However, in the 1990s there were more than 20,000 bookstores in Japan. The number of bookstores – especially independent stores – like in many countries, has been in decline.

    Nevertheless, Tokyo still has a very large number of bookstores with a ratio of one for every 1.3 square kilometers. In addition, Tokyo also boasts 630 secondhand bookstores. 

    Today, there are approximately 6,100 people per bookstore in Tokyo compared to a national average of around 7,700. This is a much higher per capital ratio than in the United States (27,350), the United Kingdom (15,000) and South Korea (13,300).
    Japan has 14,000 bookshops, and more bookshops per capita than the United States Posted by Koji Chikatani
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    Japan is the world’s fourth-largest publishing market[UPDATED: 2-11-2018]

    According to the International Publishers Association (IPA), Japan’s publishing market is the fourth-largest in the world, making it a very large domestic business sector, as publishing is a major global business.  

    The sector, however, is in fact underweight relative to other nations, as Japan’s overall economy is the world’s third-largest.  

    In comparison, for example, Japan is the second-largest country market for recorded music (Japanese people still buy a lot of CDs). Music, however, is a smaller overall market worldwide.  

    Not only is the Japanese publishing market underweight, it is shrinking and has been for two decades. In stark contrast to Japan, all the other markets in the global top 5 are either stable or growing.

    China, is ranked number 2 in the world in terms of publishing market size, and like its overall economy, is growing the most rapidly at 9 percent. In fact, it is now almost three times the size of the Japanese market for books and publications.  

    The three other leading markets, however, are all stagnant experiencing zero overall growth; the United States the largest, Germany the third-largest, and France the firth largest, as measured by the IPA in its Global Publishing Monitor 2014 report.  

    The Japanese market is 76 percent the size of the German market, and 28 percent larger than the French market, while the United States’ market is five times bigger than Japan, according to the IPA.

    However, other IPA reports and analysis rank the markets differently including the United Kingdom in the top five and Japan as the firth not the fourth largest domestic market.
    Japan is the world’s fourth-largest publishing market Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Keigo Higashino is the most popular contemporary Japanese author in China[UPDATED: 2-7-2018]

    The award-winning Japanese mystery writer Keigo Higashino is the most popular living Japanese author in China. His books regularly top the bestsellers lists in China. 

    The Chinese translation of Higashino’s Miracles of the Namiya General Store was Amazon’s bestselling paperback in China in 2017 and its third bestselling e-book. His novel Journey Under the Midnight Sun was the fourth bestselling paperback in 2017. 

    According to China Daily, Higashino’s novels have made it into the top 10 of these two rankings for four consecutive years since the Chinese edition of Miracles of the Namiya General Store was first published in 2014 in China. 

    His books aren’t just bought; they are also widely borrowed. In 2016, his novel by, Mysterious Night, was the third most frequently borrowed book at Peking University Library, the main library at China’s leading and most prestigious university.

    Higashino also had the two most requested and reserved books at the Library, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store, and Journey Under the Midnight Sun. The only other novel in the library’s top ten was Animal Farm, by George Orwell (1903-1950), the seventh most borrowed book from the library. 

    Higashino’s popularity is not just limited to China and Japan. In 2017, three of top ten bestselling novels in South Korea were also by him. Making him a massive hit in the world’s second, fourth and tenth largest markets respectively, as measured by the International Publishers Association (IPA).

    Journey Under the Midnight Sun, structured as a series of short stories, was initially published in serial format in a Japanese magazine (1997-1999) and in book format in 1999. It has been adapted for television, the stage, and for film in Japan and Korea.  
    Keigo Higashino is the most popular contemporary Japanese author in China Posted by Richard Nathan
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    One bookstore in Tokyo stocks & sells only one book at a time[UPDATED: 1-25-2018]

    Morioka Shoten located in Ginza in Tokyo, has a unique merchandising strategy. It only sells one book title at a time despite around 80,000 new books being published every year in Japan. The shop, which opened in May 2015, has a single book strategy of stocking and selling only one title. It selects one book each week to sell.

    The bookstore promotes itself with the slogan and branding statement: “Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single book, available at a time, for six days. Morioka Shoten is a bookstore with a single room with an event to gather every night. Morioka a single room with a single book”.  

    The authors (if still alive) and editors of the promoted titles are encouraged to ‘hang out’ in the store as much as possible during a book’s six-day exclusive promotional run. Book launches for new publications and special author events are part of the associated services the shop provides.  

    The bookshop, which is extremely small, has selected titles such as; The True Deceiver, by the Finnish author Tove Jansson , and Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales for its weekly exclusive and highly focused promotion and Japanese authors such as Hatsume Sato (1921-2016) and Shuntaro Tanikawa.
    One bookstore in Tokyo stocks & sells only one book at a time Posted by Richard Nathan