March 27, 2020

The rising ebook in Japan

For a country with such a post-modern reputation, Japan loves paper, especially paper books and paper money. The ¥10,000 note, the equivalent of a $100 bill, is used and accepted everywhere.

Cash in circulation in Japan amounts to over 20 percent of GDP, significantly higher than the United States (8.3 percent), China (9.5 percent), or the Eurozone (10.7 percent).

Recent trends suggest that Japanese may be embracing electronic publishing faster than they are embracing electronic money. The ebook in Japan gained significant momentum in 2019.

According to the All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher's and Editor's Association, while print sales fell for the fifteenth straight year, sales of digital manga shot up 29.5 percent. Digital book publishing rose 8.7 percent. The entire digital market was up 23.9 percent. The overall publishing market even saw a small increase.

Physical video media also took a hit, with the Japan Video Software Association reporting that the market for physical media declined almost 11 percent from 2019 to 2019. Blu-Ray sales fell one percent while DVD sales were down 20 percent.

Like the ebook, Japan is also embracing the convenience and lower costs of streaming. Netflix, Hulu (wholly owned in Japan by Nippon TV), and Amazon Prime are making their presence known in a big way. Even NHK is jumping on the bandwagon, and will launch a domestic live streaming service in April.

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