Drawing in more than 80,000 visitors to the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center, the 2010 Tokyo International Book Fair set an attendance record, reported fair organizers on July 12. Among trends that emerged at the fair was a small but growing e-book market readying for take-off, according to a July 13 review by US trade resource Publishers Weekly.
The Tokyo Book Fair is the leading book event focusing on the colossal Japanese publishing industry, which is estimated to be the second largest worldwide. For international visitors, the fair is a chance to spot current interests and future trends in the Japanese market.
From July 8 through 11, the fair hosted an unprecedented 1,000 exhibitors, up from nearly 800 in 2009, with the addition of a new education IT exposition largely to thank for the record numbers.
Because of a popular television series currently running on Japan's NHK, books and posters of 19th century revolutionary Sakamoto Ryoma were a frequent find throughout the fair, according to Publishers Weekly. Eco interests were represented by a large booth for the Rural Culture Association, while an international presence came in the form of pavilions representing China, Korea, Taiwan, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, and Estonia.
Google Japan reportedly attracted the majority of visitors at a separate Digital Publishing Fair, which honed in on Japan's e-book market. While fair organizers say that market is growing at 200 percent per year, it is still said to be very much in its infancy. Dedicated e-readers are among the least-embraced e-reading trends, with most Japanese e-book readers prefering to use cell phones.
"As a rule the Japanese public is slow to accept change," Kan XH Buan, CEO and founder of Asian electronic news distributor International Inc., told Publishers Weekly. However, that market is expected to take off within the next three years, said Buan, as the reluctance toward change is overrided by a readiness to embrace new gadgets.