Akira Nakao

Speaking Time and Room No.: 2006-9-22 16:00-18:00 Room I

Speaker: Akira Nakao (Japan)


Theme 5: Children’s Books and Multimedia Era

Children’s books and the Media Mix

Akira Nakao, Japan


It is said that in the world of children’s books the Media Mix Effect is essential to generate bestsellers. The publication of a children’s book will first be followed by a production of its screen or TV version. Then the book is released on DVD, video or as a television game. Finally, toys and stationeries modeled on the main characters of the story, so-called “character goods,” are launched on the market.


The mechanism of the Media Mix Effect is understood as follows: when the medium of a book is combined with various media such as film, TV, DVD, video, TV games and character goods, the multiplier effect contributes to boost the book’s popularity. The increase in the number of sales results in generating a big bestseller. I assume that people worldwide are aware that the Harry Potter series has demonstrated this effect internationally.


Due to this Media Mix Effect, the Harry Potter series has continued to have explosive sales. Last July, the sixth volume, Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince, was published. In its home country, England and the United States, the first edition has achieved sales in the enormous amount of 4 to 5 million. This year there is a flood of translated versions of the sixth volume around the world, including Japan. The circulation so far is estimated to amount to 2 billion. I wonder how far this number can go after the series is concluded with the publication of the seventh volume?


Even though literary assessments on the work vary, the worldwide best-selling Harry Potter series has revitalized the children’s book industry. Inspired by the series, more and more fantasy stories are released internationally. The section for children’s books at a town bookstore is now filled with fantasy stories. Under this climate, classical masterpieces of fantasy stories such as The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) and The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) are made into films. They both accomplished great success. Particularly in Japan, The Lord of the Rings had been pushed to the back of warehouse, and after a long sleep, the entire series saw the sunrise at a bookshelf.


This fantasy boom is witnessed internationally, which has prompted writers for children’s books from all over the world to gather to hold international symposiums themed in fantasy.


The circumstances surrounding children now finds them in the age of multimedia. When I looked up a dictionary, it defines literature as “a work of art expressed through paper, pencil or electronics device such as personal computer and word processor.” Children’s literature also ought to utilize multimedia, which would elicit the Media Mix Effect, in order to distribute as many books as possible to children.


Having said that, what makes a quality book is not limited to a large number of its sales owing to its movie or TV version. Despite our expectations, there are a quite number of books which cannot be easily translated into a movie or TV program.


Therefore, we cannot emphasize too much the significance of grass-root efforts such as enriching services at libraries and reinforcing advice for reading at schools.



Full name Akira Nakao (Mr.)

Nationality Japanese

Title Writer

Address 3-19-104 Nishi-Michinobe


Chiba 273-0117 Japan

Tel & Fax ++81 47 445 1233

E-mail akira.n@s3.dion.ne.jp