Japanese Bookseller Blues

This report, dated September 28, 2004, comes courtesy of the Japan Times.

Small booksellers and book publishers overall have been hit hard ever since Japan entered its decade-plus long recession. (Some may call it a depression.) According to reporter Janet Ashby, 1,500 bookstores went out of business over seven years. Both the bad economy and a decline in readers have spurred on the growth of both book super-stores and volumes dedicated more to celebrities and TV tie-ins than anything else.

The report goes on to note that Japanese publishers have shown "weak business sense" in the face of bad economic times. A few have been able to adjust and adapt, but many refused. They either are fossilized in a "quantity be damned" or "quality be damned" mindset.

So, in many ways, these publishers are their own worst enemies. In a Distributist economy, as well as in a Capitalist economy, if you are not customer friendly, market savvy and ethical, you will be shredded. So thanks to that, as well as many other factors, book superstores pop up like poisonous mushrooms.

Small publishers and small bookstores in Japan must get together and brainstorm new plans to improve their collective lot. If they wish to defeat both Internet book sellers and the horrid super bookstores, they must bring back readers to read, especially the young.


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