Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Sales surge for men’s fashion magazines

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Leon is the leading magazine for the more mature man in Japan

An unexpected surge in sales of fashion magazines aimed at men in their 30s and 40s has taken the magazine industry by surprise. Bucking the general downward trend in sales for print magazines, titles like Leon have been getting snapped up by style-conscious guys over the past two years.

According to the National Publication Association’s Publishing Research Institute, sales of men’s magazines for the 30-40 age bracket began to rise around 2010. Sales of these magazines were up a whopping 38.3% from Jan. to Nov. in 2012 compared to the same period the previous year, climbing from 2.66 million copies sold in 2011 to 3.68 in 2012. Just five magazines fit into this niche market, with Leon taking the largest slice of the market share, accounting for a third of sales. The other magazines are Oceans, Uomo, Men’s Ex, and 2nd.

Though Leon was responsible for creating the concept of the “choi waru oyaji” — which roughly translates as “bad-ass middle-aged dude” — personified by fashionable middle-aged guys like Italian heartthrob Panzetta Girolamo, this does not appear to have been the trigger for the trend. It’s more likely that the recent women’s magazine concept of the “ikedan,” or cool husband, has inspired women to buy men’s magazines for their husbands in an effort to get them to improve their appearance.

For single men in their 30s and 40s, it may have been the explosion in en masse dating activities, such as machi kon events, that drove them to the magazine racks for tips on sharpening up their looks, making them better equipped to duel it out with younger, more fashionable rivals. According to J-Cast, these guys aren’t a bunch of aging rams dressed up as lamb, they’re simply men who would like to take care of their looks, whether to score a date or simply to score brownie points with the wife.

The trend has, of course, had a positive impact on the clothing industry. Yano Research Institute reports that in 2011, sales for menswear (including suits, western clothing, and accessories) were up 2% on the previous year. Meanwhile, the Japan Department Stores Association reported a 1.7% rise in the sale of men’s suits in 2011 compared to the previous year. Furthermore, the men’s department of Isetan in Shinjuku reported that sales of suits and western clothes were up 2% for the period between April and September in 2012.

The growing market has inspired Hankyu department store, which previously concentrated on women’s clothing, to open up Hankyu Men’s Tokyo in Yurakucho in Oct 2011. Since then, they’ve clocked in impressive sales of over 12 billion yen. We expect to see other department stores follow their lead.

The knock-on effect of Murakami’s “1Q84” series

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Book 3 of Haruki Murakami's "1Q84" on sale at a bookstore in Yokohama.

Book 3 of Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84″ on sale at a bookstore in Yokohama.

Over the past three decades, author Haruki Murakami has been translated into over 40 languages and become an international superstar. In Japan he debuted in 1979 with “Hear the Wind Sing” and regularly sold thousands and even tens of thousands of copies of his novels, but when he published “Norwegian Wood” in 1987, he was thrown into the pop culture spotlight, selling in the hundreds of thousands and eventually the millions. Internationally, he started to be published in translation in the 1980s but didn’t boom, at least in English, until the late ’90s, by which time the trio of translators Alfred Birnbaum, Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel started to catch up with Murakami’s log of work.

At this point, almost all of his major novels have been published in English and many other languages, which is perhaps part of the reason that the release of his previous novel  “1Q84” in May 2009 was covered so widely in the international press: News of a release in Japan whets the appetite of his loyal overseas readership.

The fact that the book was a runaway success in Japan is also part of the reason. Murakami kept the content of the story a secret (unlike with 2002 “Kafka on the Shore,” the plot of which leaked before publication), which undoubtedly increased interest and expectation in Japan. “1Q84″ went on to sell over a million copies of each of the first two volumes in hardcover, and as it was covered in the press on morning news shows and in newspapers and magazines, it became an almost unprecedented trend generator.

At some point in the past year, Murakami decided that the story was not finished, so he produced an additional 602 pages (bringing the total page count to 1,657), which were released as Book 3 on April 16.

Continue reading about Haruki Murakami's third installtion of "1Q84" →

Manga publishers go back to the drawing board

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Manga are still popular, but are losing out to cell phones and the internet

Free manga browsing at a convenience store

In a recent interview with Monocle Magazine, Japanamerica author and pop culture stalwart Roland Kelts was asked about Meiji University’s plans for a manga library. “When you make a Rock and Roll museum, it means that Rock and Roll is dead,” he said. “And when you build a manga museum, to some extent it means that there is an end in sight.”

Perhaps in its present form, yes. Kelts doesn’t believe that manga are going away, but domestic sales are down, with print media competing with – and frequently losing to – digital platforms on cell phones and the Internet. Don’t worry, he explains, manga are just in the process of adapting to the new landscape. Downloadable manga for your cell phone are but one example.

Continue reading about evolving forms of manga →

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