Initiation of Discussions with Kodansha, Shueisha, Syogakukan toward Establishment of Joint Venture Company to Optimize the Supply Chains of the Publishing Industry
~ For the Benefit of the Publishing Industry and Readers ~

May. 14. 2021
Marubeni Corporation

Marubeni Corporation (hereinafter, “Marubeni”) aims for the reformation of supply chain of Japanese publishing industry to become more sustainable by accelerating Digital Transformation. Marubeni has initated discussions with Kodansha Ltd., Shueisha Inc., and Shogakukan Inc. (hereinafter, “the Publishers”) toward the establishment of a joint venture company (hereinafter, a “JVC”) within 2021.

The Japanese publishing industry has achieved an increase in sales over previous year for two consecutive years, and sales for 2020 were 1,616.8 billion yen. However, in recent years, the Japanese industry has faced several structural challenges for which it is essential to find solutions.

Over many years, Marubeni has conducted business by constructing relationships with the publishing industry, including the Publishers. Marubeni has offered proposals for optimization as well as solutions for supply chain related problems in several other industries. At the request of the Publishers, Marubeni, together with the Publishers as partners, plans to utilize its own experience to establish a JVC in order to launch new attempts to deal with publication distribution challenges. The details are as follows:

1. Higher operational efficiency through AI
With AI, the JVC will strive to optimize the volume of books and magazines to be published and distributed, by collecting all the necessary information related to the supply chain of books and magazines, such as inventory information across the entire supply chain and sales information from retailers. As a result, the JVC will aim to reduce economic losses related to returns of publications, which will lead to a sustainable growth of the publishing industry.

2. Utilization of RFID (radio frequency indentifier)
RFID has proved to be a highly effective technology in the apparel and library industries, among others. By utilizing RFID, the JVC will seek to establish and operate a system which enables participants to enhance efficiency of stock management, and inidividually manage the diverse sales conditions of books and magazines. The JVC will also offer a recommendation service to customers at book stores. Additionally, the system includes the function of helping book stores prevent from shoplifting.
(The RFID system is expected to strengthen the accuracy of the JVC’s goal of optimizing operational efficiency mentioned above.)

Through these measure, the JVC will deal not only with the challenges facing the Japanese publishing industry, but also achieve a sustainable society due to the reduction of environmental impact through optimizing distribution volumes of books and magazines, and also through minimizing loss of resources as a result of reducing the number of returns.

Marubeni and the Publishers expect that the services offered by the JVC (hereinafter, “new services”) will be adopted by as many book stores, distributors, and publishers as possible. Marubeni and the Publishers are confident that sharing the profits generated from the new services with the participants will benefit every book store, publisher, and customers of books and magazines.