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The Business of Publishing Media Companies Today



The Business of Publishing Media Companies Today

Amidst the current frenetic pace of technological advancement and diversification in information transmission methods, the publishing media industry continues its steady contraction. After having peaked at 2.65 trillion yen in 1996, the market has decreased in size annually and, according to an estimate from The All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s and Editor’s Association, currently sits at around 1.6 trillion yen.

We have reviewed research institute reports that show—even in this environment—that larger publishing entities such as Shogakukan, Kodansha, Shueisha, and Kadokawa are maintaining high levels of performance. How, in this structurally depressed industry, is this possible when publishing-related businesses both upstream and downstream, including publishers, wholesalers, and retailers are struggling?

If we could encapsulate this phenomenon in a single phrase, it would probably be “a change in the industry’s business model. The large publishing houses, or rather, media companies, are posting favorable results. In the past, the earnings of such companies came from the discovery and sale of promising content in print media including comics, magazines, and books. Things have changed, though. Now, once that promising content is located, someone grabs the rights to it and sells it as manga—either in print or digital form—and then in the form of television, video games, and films. The company then makes more money producing character goods and selling the rights to such goods overseas. This is the current landscape of the business we’re in.

Content distribution methods have expanded significantly through technological innovation, and the user base has grown exponentially through globalization. This has unearthed countless business opportunities and sparked aggressive investment. The business of a publisher is to develop a wide range of content and information and deliver it to users who want and find value in it. Some of the best publishing houses, however, have transformed into media companies with increasingly diverse revenue streams.

Turning the lens back on to Kamakura Shinsho, we are a media company that provides an array of information to younger people and the elderly, the prime demographic of Japan’s hyper aging society. When asked, “What does your company do,” I reply, “We are an end-of-life media company.” If the next question is, “How do you make money,” I cannot answer that we generate earnings through the sale of print media, like the major publishers I mentioned earlier. Rather, our profits come from offering individual users and businesses a host of services connected to the provision of information.

Media companies continue to provide users with the information they demand via the appropriate media form. But the way they generate revenues as businesses could not be more different than it once was, we are no longer in the business of selling print media. Our company is based on the concept of media, not of service. And, as a media company, the value we offer is information. This value is accessible to people in myriad ways, including the Internet, print and social media, videos, and seminars, according to user preference.

Kamakura Shinsho is a media company unrivaled in Japan as the provider of a wide range of end-of-life media services and will continue to innovate to meet the needs of the times.

Hirotaka Shimizu
Chairman and CEO
Kamakura Shinsho, Ltd.