Kodansha International Closing Doors

News from the Japan Times emerged that Kodansha International Ltd. is set to close by the end of April.

Kodansha International Ltd. is a publisher of English-language translations of books from and about Japan including Japanese language text-books like Japanese for Busy People (which I can’t recommend highly enough).

Japanese For Busy Peope

The decision to wind up operations comes after parent company Kodansha Ltd. decided to change how it engages with foreign markets. The firm’s move indicates their wish to end their tradition of exporting books and expand their presence in the west with their strong suite of titles including Ghost in the Shell and Akira.

Kodansha’s moves began in 2008 when Kodansha USA Publishing was set up to take over publishing titles that Del Rey used to handle. Kodansha’s efforts increased in February when they announced they had acquired a 46% stake in New York based publisher Vertical Inc. who have a history of translating Japanese novels in to English including Koji Suzuki’s The Ring.

Publishing their property in the west is seen as increasingly important during a turbulent economic period which has seen sales fall and the publishing industry suffer whilst exports have been hit by the high value of the Yen.

Rivals such as Shueisha Inc and Shogakukan Inc. have been moving in a similar direction through imprints like Viz Media.

How will this affect western markets?

Now I’m not suggesting that there is going to be a shortage of books because after Kodansha International closes in April, books will be distributed by Kodansha USA.

The fate of the manga market has yet to be determined but we are guaranteed to see a lot of manga, new and old, enter the market not through Dark Horse, Tokyopop or Del Rey but through Kodansha itself. What happens to those other labels, Tokyopop in particular is uncertain but Kodansha has already re-issued Akira and Ghost in the Shell.


Now I am going to purchase the third workbook in the Japanese for Busy People series just in case…

6 thoughts on “Kodansha International Closing Doors

  1. Vashdaman

    AHHH, I’ve just started using there Japnaese for Busy People book myself! I’m going to have to go a stock up on the other two now as well, as they do seem rather good!

  2. Wow, I am really saddened by this news. I have also found their textbooks to be quite helpful as well. Unfortunately, the Japanese publishing industry has been in decline for a while, so it does not come as a surprise. Hopefully, the situation will improve.

    1. Hey Soulful, thanks for the reply.

      The problems with the value of the yen and the decline of the publishing industry has prompted them to stop exporting to the west and start publishing there and look at ebooks, so hopefully the textbooks should continue. That said, I did some more research today and Kodansha USA was getting some bad press…

      I echo your hopes that the situation improves.

  3. Bill Logan

    Do we know for sure if Kodansha USA will publish textbooks after Kodansha International closes? The little I’ve read on this only talks about the manga published by Kodansha USA. Looks like I’ll be another person getting the rest of the Japanese for Busy People series “just in case”.

    1. Thanks for the reply.

      After reading around I’m assuming Kodansha USA will publish the textbooks although there was no specific information. Japanese For Busy People is a highly respected and long-running series of text-books so they would be mad not to continue it.

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