Japan loses its businesses

128.1 million inhabitants in 2010, against 125.7 million in 2020: natural population growth has been negative for a decade. And as a result, customers are dwindling, hitting bookstores – among other businesses – as a result. According to the Japan Publishing Organization, there are 11,952 enterprises this year, compared to 16,772 in 2012 – a loss of nearly 30%.

For veterans, the blow is heavy: Takashima Shobo, 72, serves in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. He who has seen the lack of readers believes that his activity involves being more attractive than ever. And obviously he is not alone in this case: Mizuo Takashima, 67, explains Mainici how his work has evolved. “The store makes only 10% of total sales. Ninety percent of revenue comes from sales to schools and public libraries“, he notes.

Enough to request regular meetings with these institutions, to request and keep your business afloat. And in fact, the municipalities responsible for these spaces have a huge responsibility in the survival of bookstores: instead of buying from Tokyo suppliers, favoring local bookstores contributes to the economy.

Taken in the throat

But such relationships remain rare: in Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, the last bookstore closed its doors in 2015. Aware of this shortage, the mayor sought a new operator to meet the residents’ own demands. Unless some claim the return of a store, the previous owner cruelly analyzes his failure: “The books just didn’t sellbecause the population of the city was decreasing. “Even if a new bookstore opens, I’m afraid it will still be difficult.»

However, if the population is shrinking overall, that means the birth rate is falling: something that will also affect textbook sales. “Honestly, I’m about to decide to put the key under the door: the number of students in schools has decreased, due to population decline.», says a bookseller.

And then, in ambush, everyone notices, the Internet: the use of online reading, applications and everything that follows has had a detrimental effect on the points of sale. With a vicious circle approaching:Since there are fewer bookstores, it is to be feared that the number of readers will decrease. Now is the time for the entire book industry to come together and think of countermeasuressays Kazuyuki Ishii, general manager of the Japan Booksellers Federation.

Paper vs. Digital (again…)

However, studies continue and align to show that students still prefer paper to e-ink. Japan news reports on a recent survey involving 7,000 students. At 45.6%, elementary school students find print the most comfortable, 40.4% for middle school students, and 45% for high school students.

Only 34.4% of primary school students, 38.5% of secondary school students and 34.9% of high school students are convinced by electronic books, tablets or smartphones respectively. This is enough to appease the printers, but with all this, the flow in the bookstore is not particularly happening. All the more so that another reality is hidden behind these data: boys are especially more convinced than girls by screens to read…

Photo: ActuaLitté, CC BY SA 2.0; bookstore in tokyo

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