Global Trade Talk: Müller is “Huge,” Japan’s Diet Library to Get Googlized

In Global Trade Talk by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

The big news of the day is certainly the Nobel Prize going to Herta Müller. No surprise, in the US Amazon is reporting “huge” demand for her books, according to Bloomberg News, which also says that Metropolitan books is going to do 5,000 copy hardcover runs of both The Appointment and The Land of Green Plums (Herztier), while Northwestern University Press is going to put another 20,000 paperback copies of The Land of Green Plums into print. It will be interesting to see whether readers in the America continue to have an appetite for Müller’s work once they have read it: it is dark and unflinching and, speaking as someone who worked in Romania in the admittedly post-Ceausescu Romania of the mid 90s, wholly accurate. One thing is certain: The bargain hunters and collectors were up early. Yesterday, there were dozens of copies of Müller’s works available on eBay and elsewhere, many for mere pennies; today, they are all gone.

The Japanese paper Daily Yomimuri Online reports that a new copyright law in Japan has enabled the National Diet Library to go ahead with plans to digitize “about 900,000 volumes acquired through 1968,” for which they would charge a fee or use. A committee is being formed to consider business models, and earlier this week The Japan Book Publishers Association decided to participate in the committee, with the Japan Writers’ Association, a group of copyright holders, “also likely to join in.” At present, there are already 150,000 digital publications from the Meiji era already are available for free on the library’s site. Perhaps naively, Masayuki Matsuda, an expert on copyright who has been working with Makoto Nagao, chief librarian of the National Diet Library, to come up with a plan, proclaimed: “We can create a business model by having industry organizations gather for discussions, not through the courts as with Google.”

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.