18 Jan Looking at the Japanese Publishing Market with Manami Tamaoki (S3 E2)
By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast
January 18, 2022
I hope you all had a restful holiday, and Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2022 is gentler with us all, and that we’ll get a chance to meet again in person.
After dipping my toes again in in-person meetings in Frankfurt I really hope the London Book Fair will actually take place in physical format. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see, which we’ve all become used to, by now.
Today’s guest is Manami Tamaoki, Director of Tuttle-Mori Agency, Inc in Tokyo. We recorded this interview a little while ago, when Manami just got out of a true virtual meeting marathon that took place before, during and after the Frankfurt Book Fair. I did not envy her!
I just wanted to mention that at some point during the interview, Manami talks about the Swedish bestseller titled Smart Phone Brain, which was indeed as she indicates the bestselling book of the year in Japan, and topped several year-end lists. However, Manami would like to correct that it has won one award, and not three awards as she mentions during the interview.
Here are some of the questions I asked Manami:
– What is the current situation in Japan, and more specifically in Tokyo, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
– What was the state of the Japanese publishing market before the pandemic started?
– What has the impact of the pandemic been on your activity as a co-agent selling rights into Japan, apart from the fact that you haven’t traveled to international book fairs for a while?
– Are there (m)any independent bookstores in Japan?
– Do Japanese readers continue to buy in physical bookstores or have sales moved mostly online, if this wasn’t already a trend prior to the pandemic?
– How big is the presence of Amazon in Japan?
– Are there any other giant online retailers that Amazon competes with?
– Which genres are selling particularly well in Japan at the moment?
– What is your favorite book fair, and why?
Manami’s book recommendations, themed “books that help you live through (pandemic) change”
Manami is Director for Tuttle-Mori Agency, the leading literary agency based in Tokyo, Japan. She oversees the publishing business and relationships for the agency between the US, UK, Europe, Scandinavia and other territories around the world.
Prior to becoming a Director, she was General Manager of the agency, as well as Head of the Nonfiction Department. As a co-agent selling into Japan, she works on numerous best-selling authors including Carlo Rovelli, Spencer Johnson, Adam Grant, Angela Duckworth, Susan Cain, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Kelly McGonigal, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Yanis Varoufakis, Muhammad Yunus, Thomas Friedman, John Carreyrou.
She represents Ichiro Kishimi, Shunmyo Masuno, Thomas Lockley and other bestselling authors from Japan. She has been a featured speaker and panelist at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Japan Audiobook Association, and interviewed by an award winning author for his book about publishing professionals behind the scene, as well as prominent business magazines on being a Japanese agent in the international publishing market for twenty-nine years.