JAPAN: Marketing Magic of Murakami

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – Aided by a veil of secrecy, Haruki Murakami’s latest novel has infused new life into Japan’s declining publishing industry.

Born in 1949, Murakami has been a key figure in the nation’s modern literary sphere, having won numerous awards in Japan as well as abroad. According to The Mainichi Daily, one of the Japan’s leading dailies, his new book, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, sold out of its 500,000 pre-release run on its release day this month. An additional 100,000 copies have since been requested for printing.

The novel’s early success can be attributed to its distinct marketing campaign, or rather its lack of a traditional one. As with his previous work, 1Q84, Murakami requested that the work’s publisher, Bungeishunju, “[place] an embargo on the book with the exception of the title.” Using what little information they could, the publisher utilized traditional newspaper ads and Internet ads aimed at young readers.

The resulting air of mystery sparked reader interest, leading to many pre-ordering the novel online. Kotaro Kashiwabara, the publisher’s head of book promotion, praised the peculiar marketing tactic, stating that the early popularity was due in part to “a synergistic effect between traditional media and the Internet.”

Unfortunately for Americans, Murakami’s newest work is currently only available in Japanese.

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