« Global Trade Talk

Japan’s Publishing Business Shrinks 1.5%

By Hiroki Kamata, Editor, EBook 2.0 Magazine

In August Japanese publishing revenue shrank 1.5% compared with the previous year, falling to 133 billion yen ($1.7 billion), while book sales rose slightly, up 1%.

 Mr. Mitsuo Oda, of Publishing Situation Chronicle, noted: “In 2011 the Japanese publishing industry is expected to lose 900 billion yen in value, and fall to 1.8 trillion yen (US$23.4 billion), with one trillion yen from magazine sales and 0.8 trillion from books—the same level of sales as 1997. What’s worse is that we haven’t yet seen an end to the decline.

There is no doubt that the Japanese publishing industry has been in a prolonged period of free fall. While the temptation may be to blame it on the “digital revolution, Mr. Oda pointed out it is largely the result of structural problems resulting from Japan’s unique distribution system, which is built on consignment sales with retail price maintenance.  

To put it another way, it is like the “deep stratum collapse” that often leads to a landslide. You might only feel the tremors on the surface, the the fault lines run deep.

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