Laura’s Trip to Japan

This June, the third Psychology of Language Learning (PLL3) conference took place at Waseda University, Japan.  Japan is one of our biggest markets and a country that we try and visit every few years in order to stay in touch with what’s happening in the Japanese academic book sector. PLL3 therefore gave me the perfect excuse to make my first trip over. As I have recently moved into my new job as Head of Sales, I am keen to learn all about the different markets in which we sell our books, how they differ and the challenges and prospects for each one. I structured my trip with the first part comprising sales meetings, and the conference making up the final (but by no means lesser!) few days.

Koro on the way to a meeting at the National Ethnology Library in Osaka

The first part of the trip provided an ideal opportunity for me to meet our key contacts, ask zillions of questions and to get the kind of understanding of the market that it is impossible to do by email from our office in Bristol. As with several territories, we have a local Japanese rep, Koro, who looks after our key accounts on a day-to-day basis. Having been emailing Koro for the past 8 years, it was great to finally put a face and a personality to an email address.  Koro arranged numerous visits for me during my stay, in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, and was a fantastic source of knowledge of the market. We also bonded over a love of music and fresh air and not panicking when we couldn’t find the right building for a meeting (Japanese maps are a complete mystery to me)!

Spot some of our books in Kinokuniya’s central Tokyo academic bookshop!

We met with booksellers (including our biggest customers Kinokuniya, Maruzen and MHM), librarians, academics and subject specialists, in both linguistics and tourism studies. We have a number of exciting titles which were of specific interest to the contacts, most notably the forthcoming book on akogare (desire) by Japanese author Chisato Nonaka and the recently published 3rd edition of Sport Tourism Development which sparked interested because of the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and Tokyo 2020 Olympics. As well as meetings by day, we went out for drinks and dinner with a number of our contacts, at which I learnt a lot about Japanese culture, food and alcohol!

After the sales part of my trip, I took a day off to reset my brain from sales to editorial work and to enjoy the sights of Tokyo. Sadly, it was a wet break (the rainy season had just begun), but as I had been fortunate enough to enjoy some sunshine the previous weekend, I was not too disheartened to have to spend the day browsing cookware shops on the famous Kappabashi Street and enjoying tea and cake in various tea shops when I needed a break from the torrential downpours!

Laura at the PLL3 conference

The PLL conference is now in its third meeting and I am fortunate to have been able to attend all three (you can also read about previous conferences in Graz and Jyväskylä on our blog) and to see the event evolve and thrive over time. This year, Waseda University welcomed 375 delegates from both across Japan and around the world. Stephen Ryan and his colleagues and students meticulously organised and hosted a conference that both lived up to and went beyond previous editions.

Richard Ryan giving his opening plenary

Among the highlights of the gathering were the plenaries which were always packed and stimulating. Richard Ryan opened the conference with a talk on self-determination theory and Ema Ushioda ended the first day with a thought-provoking talk questioning the social purpose of academic research. The plenaries of the second day saw Mimi Bong introduce her work on achievement goals and Lourdes Ortega asked how the field of PLL can address issues of social justice. On the final morning, Jean-Marc Dewaele gave a rousing introduction to the closing speaker, Zoltan Dornyei, who focused on the topic of perseverance within the domain of motivation. The final slot is always a tough one (especially the morning after the conference dinner!) but it certainly enthused and engaged delegates who hung around in the entrance foyer long after the conference was officially over.

Multilingual Matters book display

Alongside the plenaries, the programme was packed full of sessions and social events. And of course, I was kept busy in the book exhibit. Popular titles included Language Teacher Psychology (edited by Mercer & Kostoulas), Language Learner Autonomy (Little et al), Emerging Self-Identities and Emotion in Foreign Language Learning (Miyahara) and Portraits of Second Language Learners (Muramatsu), which was so hot off the press that I had had to bring copies straight from the office in my suitcase!

The conference was also a good platform for the new IAPLL association to be launched and for delegates to hear more about the benefits of membership. With the new association and another successful conference gone by, the stage is now set for the continued development of this subsection of the field and I am already looking forward to PLL4, which is due to take place in June 2020 in Canada.

Laura

Elinor and Tommi’s Asian Adventure

Elinor and Tommi at the Silver Pavilion
Elinor and Tommi at the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji)

Before our trip to the ISB conference this month (which you can read about here) Tommi and I travelled to Japan, China and Hong Kong to visit our reps, booksellers and academics. It was a really useful trip and fascinating to see how bookselling works in other countries.

Tommi eating green tea ice cream

We started our trip in Japan where we met booksellers based in Tokyo: Kinokuniya, Yushodo, Maruzen, UPS and Far Eastern Booksellers. It’s great to hear firsthand what is happening with library budgets and the local economy. After Tokyo, we travelled to Kyoto where we met our sales reps from Eureka Press and visited academics at both Kyoto University and Ritsumeikan University. At Kyoto University we met with a group of graduate students and Tommi gave a talk about academic publishing and how to turn your PhD into a book.

Fortunately we had a bit of free time in Japan too and we managed to visit several temples and sample some of the delicious local cuisine.

Elinor at the Forbidden City

After that we travelled to Beijing where we met with our Chinese rep Sarah from CPS. We had several meetings with local book importers as well as with the National Library of China. We met with Beijing Zhongke and CEPIEC. We also had a few free hours when a meeting was cancelled and we were able to visit the Forbidden City which was really interesting.

Big yellow duck
Big yellow duck

After less than 48 hours in Beijing, we headed to Hong Kong where we visited one our authors, Andy Gao, at Hong Kong University. Again, we met with a group of graduate students and other people interested in the publishing industry and talked to them about what we do and how the publishing process works. After the work part of our visit to Hong Kong was over we had a bit of spare time and managed to visit the fishing village of Sai Kung which was a complete contrast to the high-rise skyscrapers of Hong Kong island and Kowloon. We also travelled to the top of Victoria Peak and saw the giant yellow duck in the harbour.

After Hong Kong we headed to Singapore for the International Symposium of Bilingualism which rounded off a really successful trip. It really makes a difference travelling to meet customers in their own countries and we really enjoyed expanding our network of contacts in Asia.

To see more photos of our trip take a look at our Facebook pages: Multilingual Matters and Channel View Publications.