Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    The Path, by the founder of Panasonic, has outsold Harry Potter in Japan[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Japan’s second bestselling book is The Path, by Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic.

    The Path has sold more than 5.2 million copies in Japan since it was first published in March 1981 by PHP Research.

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first title in JK Rowlings’ Harry Potter series, published in Japanese in December 1999, is the third bestselling title in Japan with sales of more than 5.1 million at pixel time. 

    Japan’s all time bestselling novel is Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.
    The Path, by the founder of Panasonic, has outsold Harry Potter in Japan 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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    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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    Japan’s public libraries have the highest lending rates of public libraries within the G7[UPDATED: 1-24-2018]

    The number of public libraries in Japan is on the low side when compared to other G7 nations, the informal group of industrialized democracies (the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom) that meets annually to discuss issues such as economics, good governance, international security, and energy policy. However, Japan’s public libraries have the highest lending rates per service point of public libraries within the G7.

    Since the 1960s, Japan’s public libraries have focused on and generally had their performance measured on the number of books borrowed; something that has been prioritized above other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The libraries have focused on ‘demand’ something that had not been a priority up to that point.

    Critics including writers, authors and publishers argue that this has led to poor and unbalanced collection management and had a detrimental impact on book sales. The latest figures available at pixel time indicate that the lending ratio is 5.8 books lent per person compared to 5.7 books bought per book buyer per annum. This, they argue, is now being amplified by Japan’s aging population, who have more time to visit libraries, and the online rental schemes libraries have introduced to highlight book availability.
    Japan’s public libraries have the highest lending rates of public libraries within the G7 Posted by Koji Chikatani
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    Book rental and lending schemes have a very long history in Japan[UPDATED: 1-24-2018]

    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
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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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    Japan’s seven largest publishers collectively are 80% the size of the world’s largest[UPDATED: 12-10-2017]

    According to the 2017 Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry, produced by BookMap, Japan’s seven largest publishers collectively are 80% the size of the world’s largest, Pearson.


    Japan’s seven largest publishers, measured by revenue, included in the 2017 Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry, produced by BookMap, are Shueisha, Kodansha, Kadokawa, Shogakukan, Gakken, Bungeishunju, and Shinchosha.


    The BookMap analysis lists 50 of the world’s largest publishers by turnover, but excludes publishers from China in its ranking.
    Japan’s seven largest publishers collectively are 80% the size of the world’s largest 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