Children's book market are 4 times more than Japan Newborn populations are 18 times more than Japan
The Japanese book market is reported to be shrinking. Last year marked 21 consecutive years of market decline in Japan. In China, on the other hand, the economy is still rising and so is the book market. Japanese children's books are especially popular among Chinese families with young children. The sales figure clearly shows this trend.
Many popular Japanese authors like Haruki Murakami and Keigo Higashino have long been well-received in China. In addition to the novels for grown-ups, picture books and children's books from Japan have become very popular in recent years. For example, the "Baby Bear" series reported to have sold over 100 million copies, and "Tyrannosaurs" series, some eight million copies. The key player in the Japanese children's picture book market in China is Popular Publishing which expanded its territory into China since the year 2000.
According to Popular Publishing, there use to be no concept in China as picture books, and, when first made an appearance on the market, many Chinese even complained why such books filled with pictures were so expensive. Popular Publishing, however, had an insight into the potential of the market and established the Chinese entity in 2004, and began converting the locals into fans as they held reading events periodically. Popular is the only company of the non-Chinese origin that is licensed in book publishing.
Traditionally Japanese publishers, ever since the Meiji Reform in the 19th century, focused on importing western publications and rarely looked into selling books in other countries because the domestic market kept them busy. Up until a few years ago, nly a handful of publishing tycoons that owned manga contents actually had a foreign rights department. Now that the domestic market is rapidly declining, perhaps the rest of the publishing houses are at the turning point to alter their way of business.