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Yohan's bankruptcy was too sudden and it is taking a long time for other book distributors to establish a supply system. They do not have the knowhow for handling large volumes of foreign magazines an


Hiroshi Hirota, in charge of book and magazine procurement at National Azabu supermarket in Tokyo. Yohan's bankruptcy has left stores scrambling to meet customer demand for foreign books and magazines. (Japan Times)

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The Japan Times article this quote is from is here... http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080919f1.html

I think Yohan's demise was just the biggest and latest of Japan's sucking in toward itself in recent years. The foreign book sections at all major bookstores in Kansai have been shrinking for years, now catering mainly only to Japanese people learning English and other languages, i.e., not so much anymore for native or near-native English & other readers.

Naturally, it's to be expected that the bulk of any bookstore in Japan will be Japanese books, or books for Japanese people, but how are other languages like English ever to move beyond elementary-school level in Japan if these other languages are cut back so severely? Where's the substance behind the kokusaika mouthed so frequently here?

Even most Book-off stores have or are getting rid of all their English books now, so there must be a trend away from them. I can't imagine that Yohan's failing was entirely "sudden" to many industry observers. The article above states that people shunned Yohan because they went to the internet & other routes instead so that Yohan had increasing numbers of returned foreign books. Well, here's an idea... perhaps it also might be due to Yohan and similar distributors/booksellers not understanding who they were/are ordering foreign books for: for Japanese readers/learners of English? or for foreigners living or visiting Japan who want to read decent (above learner's level ) books in their native tongues? I think it's deeper than simply because people went to the internet; people went there probably because they didn't like the selections, smaller and smaller selections as well, they saw in the bookstores.There's some confusion of cause and effect going on here, I think.

Yohan's demise and the publishing industry's apparent inability to fathom what's happened can only be a further boon for those companies who do have it together to cater to all customers, not just its own citizens, like internet booksellers. I still don't understand how any distributor in Japan can justify jacking up the price of a US$7 magazine to US$15-16, or books a similar percentage. Does it really cost that much to get the book to Japan in this day and age? To whom or for what is all that extra charge going? This is robbery to me.

I enjoy going to bookstores to wile away the time browsing through physical books and magazines, but the continuing situation with English publications (in my case) in Japan is what moves me to keep on buying at online booksellers or Book-Off & Kinokuniya fire sales.

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"Suddenly"? No way. They've been on the brink for at least 5 years. They owe billions of yen to many publishing companies.They've been late for years with paying their bills. No one in the publishing world is suprised they're gone.

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