Hi Blog. This hasn’t been all that noticed in the English-language vernacular media, but it’s big news in the publishing industry. And for authors who sell books in Japan.
Well, good. To quote Nelson Muntz: “Haa haa”.
Yohan is essentially the Darth Vader of Japanese book distributors. I know from personal experience (trying to sell my books published by Akashi Shoten Inc., which refused to pay Yohan’s extortionate subscription rates or meet its restrictive conditions) that if you want to sell even Japan-published books written in English, you either go through Yohan, or your books don’t sell. They don’t get shelf space.
We already see book stores (check out Maruzen or Kinokuniya) selling imported English-language books (i.e. best sellers, novels, and classic literature) at exchange rates not seen in Japan for more than two decades (think between 150-200 yen to the dollar). But the banditry doesn’t stop there. Whenever I went to bookstores and asked them nicely to stock my books (be they JAPANESE ONLY or HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS), almost everyone agreed to, thanks. Of course, I’d go back a couple of weeks later to see if they stocked it and how it’s selling, and in many cases I’d find no copies in the “books on Japan” section. Then I’d check with the cashier and on more than one occasion be told they had stocked it. But Yohan didn’t want any books that “weren’t theirs” on those shelves, so Yohan had actually SENT MY BOOKS BACK TO THE PUBLISHER. When the store agreed to restock them, they said the only place they were *allowed* was in the “foreign language learning section” (i.e. Eikaiwa), a market with more publishers and distributors. But that’s definitely not my genre, so many a browsing sale was indubitably lost. Yes, Yohan had that much control.
So to repeat: Here we have a cartel masquerading as a company, with exclusive rights to sell cash cows like Harry Potter in English, way overcharging us for books, controlling stores’ contents and shelf space, and keeping out rivals. And they STILL couldn’t stay in business!
Good riddance to bad rubbish. Here’s hoping we can get my and other people’s non-Yohan books (particularly minority-press views on Japan) on the shelves now. Germane articles about the Yohan bankruptcy follow. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Japanese Import Book Seller Yohan Goes Bust
Tokyo, July 31, 2008 (Jiji Press) – Major Japanese import book retailer Yohan Inc. on Thursday filed for bankruptcy with Tokyo District Court with debts of some 6.5 billion yen, Teikoku Databank Ltd. said.
Yohan Book Service Inc., which is receiving business turnaround support from Yohan Inc., also went bust, filing for protection from creditors with the same court under the Civil Rehabilitation Law, according to the credit research agency.
Yohan Book Service, which operates Aoyama Book Center, left debts of about 5.4 billion yen.
Established in 1953, Tokyo-based Yohan Inc. imports such books as U.S. magazine Newsweek and runs bookstores.
The company has run into financial difficulties since its interest-bearing debts mounted following its aggressive investments.
In the year that ended in November 2007, the firm incurred a net loss of 1,065 million yen.
Online competition drives foreign book seller bankrupt
(Mainichi Japan) August 1, 2008
A leading importer and seller of foreign books in Japan has filed for bankruptcy amid the prevalence of online sales of foreign books.
Nihon Yosho Hanbai, known familiarly as Yohan, filed for bankruptcy at the Tokyo District Court on Thursday. The company has incurred 6.5 billion yen in debts.
Also on Thursday, Yohan Book Service filed for court protection from creditors under the Civil Rehabilitation Law. The affiliate company, which runs Aoyama Book Center and Ryushui Shobo, has incurred 5.4 billion yen in debts.
Established in 1953, Yohan sold a wide variety of books, from the general to the technical. The company had business relationships with about 150 publishers in about 20 countries — most of them English-speaking nations.
In September 1992, the company boasted annual sales of 9.638 billion yen. However, as online sales of books became more prevalent, Yohan’s annual sales dropped to 5.563 billion yen as of August 2005. By November 2007, sales had plummeted to 3.125 billion yen.
Bookoff Corp., a leading used book dealer, has shown interest in supporting the affiliate company Yohan Book Service.
Yohan In Bankruptcy
BookTrade.info Posted at 10:24AM Thursday 31 Jul 2008
Yohan, the long standing distributor of foreign books and magazines in Japan, went into bankruptcy today and all their employees were dismissed at once, the office was closed down immediately and the website appears to be closed.It is understood that it has gone down the bankruptcy route, rather than a supervised corporate reorganization. Yohan did not have any significant property and assets and reports suggest that there will be no payment of debts.
The affiliated bookshop chains, Aoyama Book Center and Ryusui Shobo are applying to the Corporate Reorganization Law to try and keep going. The bookstores are still operating and it is believed that the name of the company that will take on the business will be announced shortly.
It really is getting tough out there…everywhere.
Cody’s Owner, Yohan, Files for Bankruptcy
Publishers’ Weekly, July 31, 2008
With today’s news that Japanese book distributor, bookseller and publisher Yohan Inc. filed for bankruptcy with Tokyo District Court, it becomes clearer why the company closed Berkeley, Calif., icon Cody’s Books earlier this summer. Ironically, at the time of the purchase in September 2006, Cody’s owner Andy Ross stated that Yohan’s financial resources would strengthen existing the store’s operations. Yohan also owns Stone Bridge Press in the U.S.
As reported in JiJi Press, 55-year-old Yohan was 6.5 billion yen in debt. Yohan Book Service Inc., which operates the bookshop chain Aoyama Book Center, has also filed for protection from creditors and has debts of 5.4 billion yen.
According to Book2Book, all Yohan employees were laid off and the office was closed. The bookstores are still operating.
|Submitted by:||Peter Goodman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
7/31/2008 10:57:03 AM PT
|Occupation:||President, Stone Bridge Press|
This is a much more complicated story, but one thing I need to make clear: Stone Bridge Press is NOT owned by Yohan. Our owner company did NOT go bankrupt. Stone Bridge is NOT a part of any bankruptcy filing. That said, the Yohan people are long-time friends, and we feel terrible about all the very good and experienced book people who have lost their jobs. Peter Goodman, Publisher Stone Bridge Press
毎日新聞 2008年7月31日 20時10分