Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    Japan’s publishers not ranked as global players[UPDATED: 12-10-2017]

    No Japanese publisher features in the ranking of the top ten publishers by revenue produced by the International Publishers Association (IPA). Despite Japan being the world’s 4th largest publishing market, according to the IPA.


    Publishers from all of the largest five country markets, except Japan, appear in the IPA’s top ten ranking, 4 from the United States, 2 from China, 2 from the United Kingdom and one for Germany.


    Pearson, headquartered in London, is ranked as the world’s largest and is more than twice the size of the three largest Japanese publishers combined.


    Japan’s largest publishers are Shueisha, Kodansha and Kadokawa, which were founded in 1925, 1938 and 1945 respectively. They publish thousands of new books every year as well as manga and other publications.
    Japan’s publishers not ranked as global players Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Digital developments forced Japan to update its copyright legislation in 2014[UPDATED: 12-4-2017]

    Japanese copyright law was updated in 2014 under the Revised Copyright Act.

    Publishing rights, which have traditionally been limited in Japan to print or paper medium publications, were extended to cover e-books and the Internet for the first time under the new Act.  

    The new Act came into force in January 2015, 146 years after Japan’s first copyright legislation in 1869.

    The new Act covers: the right of publication; as well as the right to terminate the right of publication; the obligation to publish or transmit online within a six-month period of receipt of manuscript, and other updates required for electronic publishing.
    Digital developments forced Japan to update its copyright legislation in 2014 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan is ranked 20th worldwide in terms of output per person of new books and new editions[UPDATED: 12-4-2017]

    In terms of new title publication per capita, the United Kingdom, which is a major international exporter of books and publications, leads the world with the highest ratio of 2,875 new titles published per million inhabitants.

    Japan, which has a larger domestic market than the United Kingdom (40 percent larger) and is the world’s fourth largest domestic market for books and publications, is ranked 20th with a ratio of 613 new titles or new editions per million people, according to the International Publishers Association (IPA)

    Japan is significantly behind the United States (56 percent), when measured using this IPA international benchmark. The United States, which publishes 959 titles per million people, is ranked 12th -despite being the world’s largest market for books and publications, five times larger than the Japanese market, according to the IPA’s Global Publishing Monitor 2014.

    Nevertheless, despite Japan having a much smaller overall market than China, the world’s second largest market, publishes more new books per head than China, which has a ratio of 325 and is ranked 25th in the world on this measure. However, Japan is ranked behind Taiwan 1,831, Korea 795 and Russia 699 when measured using this ratio. 

    The United Kingdom’s figures are exaggerated by its large number of academic presses that target libraries around the world and educational publishers that often publish language learning series with multiple components each of which are often counted as individual titles despite being associated with a textbook. Its domestic market is 60% the size of Japan’s.
    Japan is ranked 20th worldwide in terms of output per person of new books and new editions Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan not included on the list of key international publishing locations[UPDATED: 10-10-2017]

    The Tokyo International Book Fair (TIBF) is not included or even mentioned in the IPA Global Book Fair Report 2017, published by the International Publishers Association (IPA).

    Although, 75 international book fairs are listed in the IPA report whose introduction states that it “provides an extensive calendar of international book fairs”, there is not a single mentioned of Japan or a location in Japan in the 34-page IPA document.

    The report contains a section on Asia & Oceana, including a special focus on South Korea and lists book fairs in New Delhi, Kolkata, Taipei, Bangkok, Dan Nang, Seoul, Hong Kong, Beijing, Jakarta, and Shanghai, but not Tokyo’s book fair, Japan’s largest.

    TIBF
    has been running for more than 20 years and is attended by more than 400 exhibitors and around 40,000 individuals, but is considered by many publishing professionals outside Japan to be domestically focused and not on the regular international publishing circuit.

    The largest international book fairs are held in Frankfurt and Beijing. But according to the IPA, the most important fairs, in addition to Frankfurt, in terms of professional attendance are: “London (the largest spring fair), Bologna (specialized in children’s books), Guadalajara (the gateway to Latin America) and New York (BookExpo – the main market place for US publishers)”. Beijing is also growing in importance, as is the Shanghai fair, which focuses on children’s books.

    Recently the TIBF has tried to focus more on the reading public than the international community of publishers. Despite this the 2017 Fair was cancelled and the September dates for the 2018 Fair at Tokyo Big Site have yet to be confirmed.

    The IPA, based in Geneva, is the world’s largest federation of national, regional and specialist publishers’ associations. Its membership comprises 70 organisations from 60 countries, including Japan.
    Japan not included on the list of key international publishing locations Posted by Richard Nathan
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    The world’s smallest printed book is a Japanese flower book[UPDATED: 9-23-2017]

    The Japanese printer Toppan produced the world’s smallest printed book in 2013, a 26-page book on Japanese flowers with pages just 0.75 mm in size. The micro-book titled: Shiki no Kusabana, flowers of season, lists the names and illustrations (monochrome) of Japanese flowers including for instance the cherry and the plum and their names using all four Japanese alphabets.

    Toppan, one of Japan’s largest printers, has been printing micro-books since the 1960s. This book, which is similar in size to the eye of a needle, is on display at its Printing Museum in Tokyo. It was printed using the same technology used to print banknotes and has a retail price of 29,400 yen.

    The Guinness Book of Records, which has a database of more than 40,000 records of which only about 4,000 are published in its annual, lists many ‘smallest books’, including the world’s smallest edition of the Quran printed in 1875. It lists the smallest reproduction of a printed book as Teeny Ted from Turnip Town, a Canadian book 0.07 mm x 0.10 mm in size whose letters are carved into 30 micro-tablets on a polished piece of crystalline silicon. Toppan’s book is a ‘printed book’ and was not produced using nanotechnology or other techniques used in the manufacture of semi-conductors.
    The world’s smallest printed book is a Japanese flower book Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Totto-Chan Japan’s all time bestselling novel[UPDATED: 8-14-2017]

    Japan’s all time bestselling novel is Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window, written by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.

    It was originally published as a series of short stories by Kodansha in its magazine Young Women in 1979. At pixel time it has sold more than 5.8 million copies in Japan and has been translated into more than 16 languages including many local Indian languages, a country, like China and Japan, where the book has been very popular.

    According to the Asahi Newspaper, sales of the Chinese edition have overtaken sales of the original Japanese edition, with sales of more than 10 million at pixel time.

    Initially, the local Chinese publisher, Thinkingdom, found it difficult to promote the title due to geopolitical issues between China and Japan, such as the ongoing dispute over the uninhabited Senkaku (also know as Diaoyutai) Islands in the East China Sea.

    Nevertheless, the book is now selling in extremely large numbers and the publisher is aiming to sell more than 50 million copies in China. 

    The children’s book, by the actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is sometimes classified as non-fiction or biography as it is considered as Kuroyanagi’s childhood memoir of her time at Tomoe Gakuen, an elementary school in Tokyo. 

    An English translation by Dorothy Britton was published in America in 1984.
    Totto-Chan Japan’s all time bestselling novel Posted by Koji Chikatani
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    Japan’s most expensive book was published in 1984 with a retail price of US$17,000[UPDATED: 7-22-2017]

    Japan’s most expensive book, an edited collection of manuscripts by Claudius Ptolemaeus (100-168), was published in two-volumes by the Japanese publisher Iwanami Shoten in 1984, just before Japan’s infamous economic bubble (1986-1991), with a retail price of 1,930,000 yen.

    Ptolemaeus’ astronomical treatise, an astronomy textbook and star catalogue, is generally referred to as the Almagest. Copies of the extremely expensive Japanese editon, Uchushi, Cosmography, a collection of reproductions of Ptolemaeus manuscripts including analysis and commentary by Torataro Shimomura (1902-1995), a philosopher and a science historian and others are available at the National Diet Library in Tokyo.

    Ptolemaeus, of Greek-Egyptian heritage, was one of the most influential ancient astronomers. He is famous for his mathematics and geography and his earth-centred cosmology.

    His cosmological theory (hypothesis) that the earth was the centre of the universe was held for 1,400 years; until it was refuted by Nicolas Copernicus (1473- 1543) in 1530 when he wrote De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres, in which he argued that the earth, in fact, rotated around the sun. The theory was published in 1543, the year of his death.
    Japan’s most expensive book was published in 1984 with a retail price of US$17,000 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Books in Japan generally published as tanko-bon, bunko-bon or both[UPDATED: 6-24-2017]

    There are two standard book formats in Japan tanko-bon and bunko-bon. Most works of fiction are initially published as tanko-bon and then after a given period, that can sometimes range from 1 to 4 years, as bunko-bon. The content of a book and the publisher may also differ across the two editions. Some books, however, are only published as tanko-bon.

    Bunko or bunko-bon is the widely used Japanese term for a book that is a small-format paperback book designed to be affordable, portable and not take up too much shelf space. They have a long and interesting history going back to books designed to fit into the sleeves of a kimonos in Japan’s Edo Period. The direct translation of tanko is ‘standalone’ or ‘bound’ and bunko ‘storeroom for written works’ or ‘library’ and ‘bon’ is book. 

    The modern form bunko-bon emerged at the turn of the 20th century. Two publishing houses (Shincho Bunko in 1914 and Iwanami Shoten in 1927) are often cited as having pioneered the modern versions. According to International Book Publishing: An Encyclopedia, Iwanami Shoten developed the market for the current popular bunko format in Japan with its imprint the Bunko Classics Series. The imprint was modeled on the German publisher Reclam Verlag’s series Universal Library.

    The Bunko-bon format, in addition to ebooks, is now exploited by Japanese publishers, in a similar manner to mass-market paperbacks in the United States, as cheap editions of books that have already been published as tanko-bon. They are typically printed on hardwearing paper, bound in a similar manner to English-language books, and usually, as is the case with most books in Japan, have a detachable outer cover (dust jacket) over a plain cover. The vast majority of bunko-bon are A6 (105×148mm or 4.1″×5.8″) in size and are sometimes illustrated. On the other hand, the size of tanko-bon (which can be either hardcover or softcover) are much more varied. The typical tanko-bon size, however, generally mirrors standard A5 or B5 paper sizes. Despite the similarities in terms of print production unlike English-language books, most Japanese books are printed to be read top-to-bottom (with vertical lines of text as opposed to horizontal text) and from right to left.  
    Books in Japan generally published as tanko-bon, bunko-bon or both Posted by Richard Nathan