A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    Limited consolidation within Japan’s publishing industry[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) amongst Japanese publishers is very rare, unlike in the United States and the United Kingdom where the big story is consolidation.

    The vast majority of Japan’s publishing houses are small or medium sized. 60% of publishers in Japan employ less than 10 people.

    Only 30 publishers employ more than 1,000 people across all forms of publishing and the five largest Japanese publishers are all relatively small when compared to the largest international publishing houses. 

    Currently, there are about 3,700 publishers in Japan. The top 500 publishers account for more than 90 percent of sales.
    Limited consolidation within Japan’s publishing industry Posted by Richard Nathan
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    The two best-known living Japanese authors[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Outside Japan, in most of the world, the two best-known living Japanese authors are probably currently Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto.

    Haruki Murakami published his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, in 1979, in the June issue of Gunzo, a Japanese literary magazine. Banana Yoshimoto’s first novel, Kitchen was published in Japan in 1988 and initially internationally in Italian. She has now been published in 36 different languages, while works Murakami have been translated into 50 languages.

    However, Keigo Higashino, the brilliant Japanese crime fiction writer, is the most famous and most read Japanese author in China, where he regularly heads the lists of bestselling authors. Currently, outside China and Japan he is much less well-known.  
    The two best-known living Japanese authors Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japanese libraries still major book buyers[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    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.

    Currently, there are more than 3,000 public libraries across Japan, just over 20% the number of Japanese bookstores.
    Japanese libraries still major book buyers 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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    76,000 new books published in Japan every year[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Around 76,000 new books are published in Japan every year. This compares to 470,000 in China, 340,000 in the United States and 170,000 in the United Kingdom, the top three nations, according to the International Publishers Association (IPA).

    Japan is ranked 8th behind Russia, France, Germany and Brazil in terms of the number of new titles published annually.

    There are about 1 million books in print in Japan. The number of new titles published each year in Japan is relatively stable, but overall sales of books is falling.

    When measured on a per capita basis Japan, according to IPA analysis, is ranked 20th in terms of new books or new editions published per million inhabitants.
    76,000 new books published in Japan every year Posted by Richard Nathan
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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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    The two most prestigious Japanese literary prizes are the Akutagawa and the Naoki prizes[UPDATED: 2-11-2018]

    Japan’s two most prestigious literary prizes amongst the more than 500 prizes that are awarded each year in Japan for literature are probably the Akutagawa and the Naoki prizes.

    Both were set up in 1935, by Kan Kikuchi (1888-1948), when he was editor of Bungeishinju, one of Japan’s leading literary magazines, which he founded in 1923.  

    The Akutagawa prize is for literary fiction published by new up-and-coming writers in a magazine or newspaper. It is awarded twice a year with prize money of 1 million yen and a pocket watch. 

    The Naoki Prize, also awarded twice a year is for “”the best work of popular literature in any format by a new, rising, or (reasonably young) established author”.  

    Both prizes have 9 judges who select the winning titles from a shortlist put together by editors at the monthly magazine, Bungeishuju.

    The prizes are named after Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) and Sanjugo Naoki (1891-1934) two highly regarded Japanese authors.
    The two most prestigious Japanese literary prizes are the Akutagawa and the Naoki prizes Posted by Richard Nathan
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    In the 17th century Japan experienced the world’s first camellia publishing boom[UPDATED: 2-9-2018]

    A confluence of events created Japan’s, and probably the world’s first, camellia publishing boom in the second quarter of the 17th century. 

    The arrival from Korea of movable type technology and the printing of the first Japanese book using the technology in 1593 was the catalyst for the commercial publishing that kicked off about a decade later in 1609, in Kyoto, at the start of the Edo Period (1603-1868). Interestingly, most commercial publishers reverted to traditional methods and did not use the new movable type technologies as the local publishing market developed and expanded. 

    The Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), who initiated the Edo Period when he took control of the country, loved flowers and his successor Hidetada Tokugawa (1579-1632), the next Tokugawa Shogun, was particularly fond of camellias. Interest spread to feudal lords and then onwards creating the Kan’ei Era (1624-1644) boom in camellias. Dozens of books, and illustrated guides were produced, at a time before these plants had even arrived in Europe. A similar boom happened in Europe after the arrival of Camellia japonica in the 1830s. 

    Some of the illustrated guides that still exist today are impressive and beautiful as they must have been when produced more than 300 years ago and would not look out of place in a European art museum displayed alongside modern pictures. 

    One of the best examples of these amazingly beautiful Japanese publications is: One Hundred Camellias, attributed to Kano Sanraku (1559-1635), which was created in the midst of this unprecedented camellia gardening boom at the start of the Edo Period. 

    It is 24-meters long and consists of two scrolls and commences with an introduction consisting of prose and poems from 40 different individuals including members of the Japanese imperial family. Camellias are painted and drawn in vivid colours in different containers; baskets, vases, trays, and tea-bowls to name just a few. Following its donation it is displayed annually to welcome in the New Year at The Nezu Museum in Tokyo. 

    One of the best places to witness the long-term effects of this publishing boom is the garden of the central Tokyo hotel Chinzan-so. The hotel’s name means “mountain of camellias” and houses about a hundred different varieties from across Japan with exotic names such as Camellia Akashigata, Kingyohatsubaki, Yokogumo and Hikaru Genji. The famous Haiku poet Mastuo Basho (1644-1694) is said to have lived in a hut facing the garden for four years, long before the hotel was built.  
    In the 17th century Japan experienced the world’s first camellia publishing boom Posted by Richard Nathan