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State of Publishing in Japan

posted on 2005-09-24 10:21 EDT
Manga Sales Continue to Decrease

The Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO) has published their 2005 Japanese Publishing Industry Report, a follow-up to the 2004 report. Here are some excerpts from the 2005 report.

Compared to 2003, manga sales (non-magazine format) in 2004 fell 2.0% to 254.9 billion yen, while sales of manga magazines such as Shounen Jump have fallen 2.3% to 254.9 billion yen. Manga sales have declined 20% since 1994. Shonen Jump, while still the number 1 selling manga anthology in Japan, has a circulation of approximately 3 million copies a week, down from 6 million in 1995.

According to Jetro's 2004 numbers manga sales now account for 37% of publications sold (number of copies sold) and 23% of sales (value of copies sold in yen).

One reason cited for the decline in manga sales is the increasing number of used manga stores, manga rental shops and manga cafes. Even used copies of manga anthology magazines are available for sale on the street, for a fraction of their original price, only a few days after they are first published.

In reaction to the growing manga rental market, an amendment to Japan's copyright law was recently made, with the addition of a "lending right." The author's (or his agent/publisher) permission is now required before lending books or magazines (including manga) to the public for profit. Jetro's report, which focuses on 2004, does not state what kind of effect this amendment, which became law on January 1st 2005, has had.

Jetro also reports on International sales. The United States accounts for 35.9% of all Japanese publication exports. The Jetro report also gives the first public look at Shonen Jump USA's sales figures. With a circulation of some 350,000 copies per month, the actual sales are around 150,000 copies. This is standard for the North American publishing industry where only one third of all magazines shipped to the newsstand are sold.

Taiwan is the second largest consumer of Japanese published material, accounting for 8% of exports. Japanese publishers have licensed manga in 20 to 30 foreign countries.

Overall the number of publications (books and magazines) sold in Japan in 2004 fell 1.9% compared to 2003, the 9th consecutive year of decline. Despite the decrease in sales, the number of books and magazines issue in Japan increased somewhat (2.7% and 2.0%), reflecting a market demand for diversification.

The number 1 selling book in Japan in 2004 was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, followed by Crying out for Love at the Heart of the World. The movie adaptation of Crying out for Love at the Heart of the World was the number 1 movie at the Japanese box office in 2004, earning 75 million yen. Densha Otoko (Trainman), which was based off an Internet story and spawned 4 manga, a movie and a TV drama, was 17th on the Japanese best seller list for 2004.

Sources* cited by the JETRO report:
All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher's and Editor's Association
Dentsu Communication Institute
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI)
Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications
Yano Research

*ANN used additional sources for some historical statistics.

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