Amid Plagiarism Protests, Independent Publisher Behind “Yore Yore Diary Series” Unveiled | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Amid Plagiarism Protests, Independent Publisher Behind “Yore Yore Diary Series” Unveiled

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Mr. Nakano’s strong eyesight is impressive

An interview with Mr. Nagatake Nakano, president of a one-man publishing house. Following the first part of the interview ( Part 1: One-man publishing house president’s life story from the humiliation of being annihilated by 30 companies in job hunting to joining “Sangokan”), he reveals in his own voice the story behind the success of his “Yore-Yore Diary” series.

“I happened to be the one who answered the phone call from Kashiwa Koichi, the author of the first book in the series, ‘Traffic Director Yore Yore Diary.’ Naturally, since there’s only one employee in the company. When I heard that several companies had turned down his proposal and manuscript, I thought, let’s give it a read. And you know what? It was hilarious!

The stark reality of elderly traffic directors was vividly portrayed. However, if we were going to publish it anyway, it wasn’t going to be just about convenient things. We decided to reveal not only the struggles with loans, salaries, and family discord but also their personal lives, in hopes of entertaining the readers. The tricky part was not to become too resigned. It’s important to garner sympathy and affection from the readers.”

At that time, the “200 Million Yen Retirement Problem” was a hot topic. People were concerned about their future. With a subtitle like “Today, at the age of 73, I’m standing on the field under the scorching sun since early morning,” Traffic Director Yore Yore Diary caught people’s attention.

“Since many of the buyers were elderly, newspaper advertisements were effective. The phones kept ringing with orders. Riding the wave, it was featured in various media outlets such as newspapers and television, further boosting sales through a synergistic effect.”


The author’s point of view is not a lucky one.

When the first book was well-received, submissions poured in from various professions: monks, female jockeys, flight attendants, sex workers, Japan Coast Guard officers. However, not all of them were suitable for publication. Nakano had clear criteria.

“No pretense. They have to adhere to the rule of ‘That’s not acceptable, you can’t write about this’ if they want to get published. Authors who only write what they want to say invariably end up dull. It’s actually the ‘things they want to hide’ that are more interesting. We refuse to publish authors who can’t follow this rule.”

There was a submission from a single mother of a certain profession. When Nakano met her at a cafe in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and asked, “Are you ready to expose yourself?” she replied, “I’m fine.” Her stories were indeed intriguing. After exchanging manuscripts and finalizing illustrations and cover designs, trouble arose.

“Her interactions with her daughter, who she was raising alone, were exceptional. I asked her to include the nuances of their fights and reconciliations, the emotions at those times. However, she refused, saying, ‘I don’t want to write about my daughter. I don’t want her to get hurt after reading the finished book.’

I understood her concerns, but I’m not publishing books for the sake of the authors. It’s the editor’s mission to provide something that pleases the readers. I tried to persuade her several times, asking her to deepen her own character as well as reveal backstage stories of her work, but she eventually stopped responding.”

Nakano doesn’t compromise with authors. He only publishes books he’s 100% confident in, which is why the “Yoreyore Diary Series” maintains high quality and continues to receive support from readers each time.

“If readers think, ‘This time wasn’t interesting,’ we’ll lose their trust in an instant. So when imitation books appeared in bookstores after the success of the ‘Diary Series,’ I didn’t hold back. I immediately sent a proof of content to the imitating publishers and protested. I demanded they stop advertising, change their cover designs, and more. Some complied with the demands, but others refused, leading to legal battles.”

On the flip side, there are cases where protests are received.

“After publishing 18 volumes of the ‘Diary Series,’ we received legal notices from two major corporations. We included information that only insiders would know. Since they didn’t specify their grievances regarding the book’s content, we’ve left it unaddressed.”

What kind of professions does he plan to publish about in the future?

“In early June, we plan to release a book titled ‘Shady Diary of Consumer Finance.’ I’m also interested in the behind-the-scenes lives of athletes like baseball players and sumo wrestlers. However, athletes are unlikely to come forward with their stories voluntarily. We’ll have to reach out to them. But then, imposing my rule of ‘revealing what they want to hide’ might make them hesitant. So, it may be challenging to make it happen.

I don’t have any subordinates or bosses, so I’m stress-free. I have no intention of hiring employees or expanding the company at the moment. Since my only interest is making books, every day is enjoyable for me. Without employees, printing a few thousand copies and reprinting them when necessary is sufficient for me. I’ll continue making books that satisfy myself in the future.”

Nakano, the easy-going solo president, works in a black T-shirt and shorts. As he discusses his future prospects, his eyes gleam with determination, reminiscent of a kabuki actor.

As an editor, I have a strong policy.
No employees or part-timers, just one person running “Sangokan Shinsha”.
He loves making books, and because he is alone, there is no stress. He says, “Everyday is fun.”
  • PHOTO Sono Aida

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