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November 09, 2005

Yohan Continues to Sever ELT Ties

Yohan, Japan's biggest distributor of foreign-language books, is no longer distributing ELT books published by Oxford University Press. The move, made at the end of October, further indicates Yohan's change in business focus, which began when the company merged with Tuttle Shokai in June, 2003 (earlier story) and Tuttle Shokai President Hiroshi Kagawa became President and CEO. Macmillan and Thomson stopped dealing with Yohan last year and Longman severed ties earlier this year. The latest move comes on the heels of a recent Yohan decision to cut ties with other smaller publishers, and currently Cambridge University Press is the only major ELT publisher still being distributed by the company.

The traditional book distribution business in Japan has been in decline for several years, particularly with the advent of online distributors led by Amazon. This has both shaken up the bookstore industry, with major store operator Maruzen in particular facing financial difficulties, and presented opportunities. Yohan bought the failed Aoyama Book Center in 2004 (earlier story) and has plans to open new stores across the country - an ABC store opened in September in Fukuoka was the first outside the Kanto area. Yohan is also focusing more on publishing its own books, such as the recently published "Yohan Ladder Readers", a library of English readers aimed at beginner to intermediate students.

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