Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
If you would like to contribute to this compendium please submit your ideas here.
All will be considered for publication by our expert panel.
  • Share
    • China

    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
  • Share
    • China

    The Japanese word for novel entered the Japanese language in 1754 via China[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    The Japanese word shosetsu written using two letters or characters meaning ‘small’ and ‘talk ’ first came into use as a Japanese term for fiction in 1754; following the successful translation and adaptation of Chinese books such as Sui-Hu Chuan (The Water Margin), pronounced Suikoden in Japanese. 

    The first ten chapters of Suikoden were published in 1727 and another 10 chapters in 1759 in Japan in translation with Japanese annotations. 

    The word, shosetsu, was initially used only for works of fiction translated from Chinese, but was subsequently used for fiction in general, due to the success of these publications. 

    In the 1880s Shoyo Tsubouchi (1859-1935), a Japanese writer and translator and professor at Waseda University, first proposed that the term shosetsu be adopted as the standard Japanese translation for the English word novel and the French word roman in his paper titled: Shosetsu shinzui (The Essence of the Novel)

    Shosetsu thus become the accepted word used to translate the English word and Western concept of novel into Japanese. 

    Subsequently it was used to mean a novel or any form of prose narrative fiction, story, tale, or romance. Modifiers were added to this old term to differentiate the type of book or prose: tanpen (short or brief edit) to create short-story; and tantei for detective novels. 

    The word shosetsu, however, is in fact a Chinese word with its own long history. It was, according to research, used much earlier than the 1750s in Japan and reportedly as early as 1484, but generally as a term of derision of another’s opinion or work – meaning trivial history, small talk or street rumor, not a work of fiction or novel as we know them today; be they Chinese translations, English translations or Japanese originals.
    The Japanese word for novel entered the Japanese language in 1754 via China Posted by Richard Nathan
  • Share
    • China

    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
  • Share
    • China

    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
  • Share
    • China

    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