Saturday, July 26, 2008

Reading Books Plummets In Japan Too


Novels under manga cover: Convenience stores go literary
Publishers and convenience stores are teaming up on novel efforts to draw young people back into the literary world.

Concerned over flagging book sales, especially among younger age groups, publishers are having popular manga artists illustrate the covers of novels and are turning serious works of fiction into manga to be sold at convenience stores.

Such "combini novels" are proving popular among young people who are seemingly averse to conventional bookstores.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. in May became the first major convenience store chain to put on sale revamped editions of works by three Naoki Prize-winning authors--Arimasa Osawa, Miyuki Miyabe and Natsuhiko Kyogoku.

Although none of the books are new, they have been totally repackaged, with manga artists popular with young people illustrating the front covers.

Emphasis added by me.

More convenience stores are offering serious literary works such as Takiji Kobayashi's Kani Kosen (The Factory Ship), Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Toson Shimazaki's Hakai (Broken Commandment) in manga format.

Tokyo-based East Press' series "Manga de Dokuha" (Read through books using manga) has taken such well-known works of literature and made them into manga. The series was launched in July last year, mainly available at convenience stores. Its 17 titles have so far sold 900,000 copies.

"We thought that maybe we could get people to read well-known works perceived as tough reads by turning them into manga and selling them at convenience stores," East Press' Kosuke Maruo said.

Until now, the reading material on sale at convenience stores has been mainly restricted to magazines and "how-to" books.

But Maruo said that convenience stores welcomed the novels turned into manga, as did readers, who said they wanted to read more such novels.

Emphasis added by me.

Behind the growing collaborations between the publishing industry and convenience stores is the difficult financial position many publishers have found themselves in.

According to the Research Institute for Publications, estimated 1998 sales of publications were 2.5 trillion yen, but this figure had fallen to 2 trillion yen by last year--a drop of about 20 percent.

Emphasis added by me.

I must adapt Nikki Finke's famous quote: Pretty soon, every single fucking book is gonna be turned into a comic book one way or another. Ugh.

David Rothman, what say you?

-- via Japan Probe

Previously here:

For God’s Sake, Get eBooks Going, Steve Jobs!

No comments: