Following the order to begin liquidation of Diamond Big S.A., the publisher of Chikyu no Arukikata…
However, the Chikyu no Arukikata business was transferred from Diamond Big Sha to Gakken in 2021, and Gakken continues to publish guidebooks for both domestic and international travel (see below).
This is what the official Twitter of Globe-Trotter tweeted on May 31 regarding the “misunderstanding” that circulated on the Internet in response to the May 30 report that Diamond Big-sha, publisher of the well-known “Globe-Trotter” overseas travel guidebook, had received a liquidation commencement order from the Tokyo District Court.
The impact of the spread of coronavirus infection hits directly
Chikyu no Arukikata” (Globe-Trotter) was severely damaged by the spread of the new coronavirus. However, instead of disappearing, “Globe-Trotter Tokyo,” published in September 2008, became a huge hit, selling more than 110,000 copies. The “Travel Guide Series” and “Globe-Trotter aruco Series” are also doing well, and last year the long-selling brand collaborated to produce “Globe-Trotter Mu: How to Walk in Another World (Parallel World) Last year, we published “Chikyu no Arukikata Mu: A Walking Guide to Another World (Parallel World)” (’22) in collaboration with a long-selling brand and “Chikyu no Arukikata JOJO: Jojo no Bizarre Adventure” in collaboration with a very popular manga, which became a big hit. The company has not been deterred by the Corona crisis, but has flexibly changed hands and products to keep up with the times, and has continued to make rapid progress.
Amidst the news of a series of ceased publications, discontinued publications, and bankruptcies due to the severe publishing slump, there is much to be learned from this resilience. We asked “Chikyu no Arukikata” about its “way of walking in the times.
I am not talking about something cool like that at all (laugh). However, I will never forget that on Sunday, September 27, 2008, an article in FRIDAY Digital about “Globe-Trotter Tokyo” appeared on the top of Yahoo!
I can’t say it out loud, but at the time, I often took domestic trips with my family because we could get tickets very cheaply through COVID-19 crisis. As we were boarding the plane from the airport in Kagoshima, I received about 20 calls on my phone, which did not usually ring.
I knew something important was going on, so as soon as I arrived at Narita, I turned on my phone and there on the line was a capture of the top story on Yahoo! I had no chance of winning, and people might say, “What are you doing?
With some lip service (?). Takashi Miyata, who has served as editor-in-chief of Globe-Trotter, is the general manager of the Contents Business Department, Publications Editorial Office, and Digital Business Department of Globe-Trotter, Inc.
Sudden “Business Transfer” and “Dismissal
However, the announcement of the business transfer from Diamond Big Inc. to Gakken was made on November 16, only a month and a half after the “explosive sale. Although the transfer of the business had been steadily discussed within the management team, the editorial staff knew nothing about it, and at 3:01 p.m. on November 16, when the stock transaction was completed, they were all gathered and briefed on the matter. Was the timing of the “bomb sale” too late? ……
No. No matter how hard “Tokyo” worked to sell 100,000 copies, it is still on par with Rome, Paris, etc. Originally, “Globe-Trotter” published about 90 titles a year, of which the top-ranking items were those that sold more than 40,000 copies, and we were eating with dozens of them, so a single hit on its own was not enough.
After the first state of emergency was declared in April ’20, sales of guidebooks for overseas travel completely stopped, and they were still down 95% from the pre-COVID-19 crisis level. In fact, Mr. Miyata, who was the manager, said that this business transfer was not a surprise to him, as he had just seen his cash dwindle on a monthly basis and his pooled funds on hand disappear.
The announcement was that Gakken Plus would be creating a new subsidiary, the name of which had not yet been decided, and that as of December 31, all employees who had seats at Diamond Big would be laid off and the business itself would be transferred, so all designers and outside staff, including the printing company and its subsidiaries, would take over, but the employees would not be part of it. All designers and outside staff, including subsidiaries of the printing company, would be taken over, but not the employees.
From there, the employees took employment exams and began the furious transition period leading up to the transfer. It was like running away in the night,” he said.
No negativity, no bad language, no negativity.”
In the publishing industry, it is common to hear that a business transfer forces a company to drastically change its course, or that it is subjected to strong-arm tactics, and that it is unable to produce the books it likes because it is driven only by numbers. However, Mr. Miyata told us a number of episodes that made us think, “Is there such a good story? But what Mr. Miyata told us were episodes that made us wonder, “Is there such a good story?
I myself was prepared for them to make the move in about two years,” Miyata said. I wanted to protect my staff and the people who had worked with me, so I thought I would not reveal my hand.
However, only President Kunihiro Arai and two executives came from the Gakken Group, but they did not interfere in editorial policy at all, and were like a puppy pointing its finger at a quivering puppy. As I later found out, the president was an old-fashioned editor with a very strong personality within the Holdings, and was well-liked by the people at Gakken Plus.
To restart “Globe-Trotter,” Mr. Miyata visited the Gakken building around December 16 and worked out a three-year publishing plan with President Arai and other executives. Based on the goal of returning to 75% of the pre-COVID-19 crisis level in the second year, Mr. Miyata’s publishing plan called for “40 new books to be published in the first year and 100 in the second year,” a tremendous number!
“On January 5 of my first year, I gave a speech I’d never said before or after. ‘I’m going to throw up from the pressure’ (laughter).
At that time, I said there were only three things I wanted him to promise me for the next two years. They were ‘no negativity, no bad language, and no negativity.
Then, in the second year, I said, ‘There are only 11 people in the editorial department, but please make 100 books. But because I had said ‘no negativity’ a year earlier, the members of the division were like, ‘Seriously, …….’ So, at a general meeting to present the division’s goals, I wrote ‘must achieve’ with a brush in front of all the employees.
Frankly, I knew the first year was a losing battle, and I could use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse, but the plan for the second year was 100 units while the COVID-19 crisis dragged on and we couldn’t get the revised version out, so that was the hardest part. So, we were trying to make even money in the second year, and in the third year, we were trying to make a single black (profit per month).”
I wrote the words, “Isn’t there something that is required of Globe-Trotter that doesn’t show up in the data? And…”
The first thing the entire staff did in full force was the “Illustrated Travel Guide” series. Even so, the hurdle of 100 new books was still high, so they decided to pull in staff from outside the company and try to develop new ones.
When I asked them about places they would like to collaborate, they said, “I would like to work with the 4-D Pocket place,” “Let’s make a retort curry from a major curry food company,” “Starbucks,” “McDonald’s,” and many other …… things came up, but they didn’t materialize. But 90% of them did not come to fruition.
Originally, some of us had given up on our own. But since “Globe-Trotter Tokyo” sold so well, we thought that there must be something that was required of Globe-Trotter that was not shown in the data. I thought.
Then, the president and board members said, “You didn’t do what you were supposed to do because you didn’t have the money, and you went out of business once, right? If that’s the case, we’ll pull in the money, so you can do what you have to do. When you are told something like that, you think, “I’m being cheated,” or “How can such a good deal be possible? But everyone who came out was a good person.
Moreover, when the printing company …… was mentioned as Gakken’s business partner, he said, “If we don’t order from our main business partner, they will also fall together,” and “‘Globe-Trotter’ was originally started not by a professional editing group but by just a traveler who imitated the editorial process. The printing company that had been our client since the film era was the one who made it a product by preparing the details.
Why “Tama” was chosen as the follow-up to the hit “Tokyo” instead of “Kyoto” or “Okinawa
If it weren’t for this kind of company, we wouldn’t have released “Tama” as the second book after “Tokyo. Normally, the answer would be, “Go with Kyoto, or Okinawa, or at least Kanagawa,” but when we allowed Tama to be published, I think I understood Gakken’s open-minded corporate culture.
In fact, of the 1,500 postcards we received from readers of the Tokyo edition, Tama was the most popular answer to the question, “Where would you like us to publish the next guidebook? Tama is also Tokyo.
The first editions of Chikyu-no Arukikata are always published in the same way: the American and European editions are published first, and from there, in the form of a round-the-world tour of Europe, Morocco is published at an early stage, saying, “If you cross the sea, you will find Morocco, won’t you? What would a person who has circled the U.S. do next, say, from Tijuana to Mexico by land, and then the Mexico section comes out. It is a practical book in the travel line.
However, the sales department said, “We need evidence,” and since 90,000 copies of “Tokyo” had been sold at that point, and the population of Tokyo is 9 million in the 23 wards, we said, “Let’s go with 1%. From there, we got excited and said, ‘Tama has 3 million people, so 30,000 is a solid figure’ (laughs).
In addition, with the cooperation of the licensing division of parent company Gakken, gummy bears and capsule toys were developed, and by May 2011, sales of conventional guidebooks had recovered to about 40% of the previous level. Currently, the company has declared that it wants to increase the size of its workforce tenfold, and is simultaneously hiring and expanding its business.
He is currently expanding his business by hiring new employees and simultaneously expanding the scale of his operations. At the same time, we are writing down all the things we need to do, such as creating a map application and starting a salon, and we are showing everyone at our weekly meetings what we plan to do in FY2023,” he said.
After ‘Tokyo,’ the next step would normally be, ‘Go to Kyoto, or Okinawa, or at least Kanagawa…’ Since we’ve already been crushed once, the rest is just willpower (laughs).
While “Globe-Trotter” had dozens of guidebooks in its “army (over 40,000 copies)” and was basically subsisting on “revisions,” the path it is now taking is all uncharted territory, even while preserving such “tradition. The amount of work involved must be extraordinary. …… Yukari Fukui, a producer and head of the Publishing and Editorial Office in the Contents Division, who worked with Mr. Miyata, said, “Everyone’s work style has changed.
Everyone’s work has changed. There is a greater sense of unity than before. We went bankrupt once, so now we’re just determined (laughs).
But the bankruptcy fiasco was a little bit aggravating, because we were thinking, ‘We’re working so hard, but we’re still working on …….’ That’s why we decided to take advantage of the SNS.
So, I prepared a document with my colleagues to get sympathy on social networking sites in response to the uproar, and we set it up at 7:00 the next morning.
Actually, we all communicated with each other around 10:00 p.m. If we posted on Twitter at that time, it would give the impression that we were in a hurry, wouldn’t it? Everyone chatted about it, saying things like, “You should at least say something,” “When do you want to say it? Some of them had family matters to attend to, and some of them had children climbing on their shoulders.
As a result, many people spread the word on Twitter, and sales rankings on Amazon rose across the board. Once again, the “uproar” was turned into an opportunity.
Finally, Mr. Miyata expressed his enthusiasm for the future of “Chikyu no Arukikata.
Even in times when paper is not selling well, we will definitely make paper. But let’s do a reverse look at where we can make the profit to make paper.”
Of course, we will do the Web and apps, but in the end, I want to publish every country in the world, including Africa, which has not yet appeared in “Globe-Trotter. From now on, AI will be involved, and it will be easier to create a platform, so if we use it well, I think we can cover the whole world, and I would like to expand the market to the whole world.
I am very busy right now, but I know the pain of not being able to publish a book, so the pleasure is much greater than the pain.
Interview and text by： Wakako Tago PHOTO by Ayumi Kagami： Ayumi Kagami