By Mitsuo Nitta
Established in 1932 as an antiquarian bookstore specializing in research materials in Jimbocho, Yushodo will celebrate its 80th anniversary this year. This means, after some simple math and a bit of Yushodo history, Yushodo began its operation as a stock company 52 years ago when importing research materials from overseas was still considered a venture business; and it has been 2 very exciting years since Yushodo moved into the new office. And most importantly, our first fiscal year as a member of MCHI Holdings, a business entity established under DNP with the aim of revolutionizing how books and information are distributed, has ended at the end of last month.
It is hard to deny that we are living in a very fluid moment as we are no longer able to rely on past experience to predict the future. While many of those who are associated with our industry may disagree with me, judging from what I hear from people around the world in the antiquarian book, publishing, and import businesses or from researchers and librarians, this industry is amidst of a paradigm shift. What we need today is a clear and fundamental reassessment of what readers, researchers, and librarians in Japan really want.
Luckily, I am surrounded by a group of experienced staff who has a deep understanding of the book trade and is not willing to give up so easily. The Yushodo brand and the company culture live on in each and every employee. The necessicity of foreign capital in the Asian market, the relation between the English language and the Japanese language, the future of web information, the changes seen in the library sector: these are all real issues that warrant our close attention, and as a board member of both Yushodo and MCH, I stay committed to making every effort to overcome these challenges in the hopes of a brighter future for everyone involved in the trade.
Materializing International Cooperation
Throughout last year, Yushodo was part of a project initiated and maintained by Cengage Learning Asia K.K. located in Singapore to publish a collection of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s speeches, interviews, and dialogues during his remarkable political career. As you very well know, his relationship with Japan greatly influenced the modernization of Asia. Following the formal launching of the collection that took place in Singapore back in September 2011, we held a seminar on Mr. Lee at the newly-renovated Hibiya Library and Museum in December. With the cooperation of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan-Singapore Association, we were able to demonstrate our capability and willingness to cooperate internationally to an entirely new market.
Yushodo has also taken initiative to join forces with Transmission Books and Microinfo Co., Ltd., with whom we have been collaborating in certain respects such as sales of microfilms and other digital projects, to establish a new company whose main line of business will be the Chinese-English translation of research papers. Projects to digitalize primary source materials in mainland China are also underway.
World Antiquarian Book Plaza
It has been two months since the grand opening of the World Antiquarian Book Plaza on the third floor of Maruzen bookstore in Nihonbashi. Thanks to the considerable amount of media coverage, we had more visitors than we initially expected. Being able to purchase first editions and manuscripts of worldwide known writers was not really common in Japan, but now that the Plaza is open, we have cultivated a new market ranging from novices who had never set foot in the world of antiquarian books before to those mavens who simply are not satisfied with looking at books in the Internet. This may be one of the few sanctuaries for the industry left intact from the Internet giants like Amazon. I would like to thank all eleven exhibitors from over 20 countries and especially Mr. Michael Steinbach who has been extraordinary in his preparation running up to the opening and his leadership as General Manager, without whose cooperation the Plaza would have been impossible or even unthinkable. We will be hosting a number of events and exhibits at the Plaza to keep up the momentum we gained last year. All of us at the Plaza appreciate the support we received and look forward to seeing you there.
The Launching of J-DAC (Japan Digital Archives Center)
The J-DAC project started as a joint venture between DNP and was one of the primary reasons we decided to join MCHI Holdings. Efforts made by our editorial staff and the tech staff from DNP have finally paid off as J-DAC has just been launched on the 25th of January 2012. While publishers in Europe and the U.S. have long been undertaking projects to digitalize microfilms and offer the digitized content online, J-DAC is garnering much attention from the trade as being one of the few pioneering projects in this field in Japan. Not only do we firmly believe that J-DAC will be essential to the success of Yushodo and MCHI Holdings, but also that J-DAC will play a crucial role in benefitting mankind as the guardian of her history.
The article is published on the Yushodo website. It is presented here by permission of Mr. Mitsuo Nitta. Thank you very much.