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A Case of Goken:Product Development and Marketing in the Overflooded English Textbook Market

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The fever for learning English shows no sign of cooling down in Japan. The vast space alloted for English self-learning books is overflooded with English conversation and preparation materials for TOEIC tests. In the era of low sales of books,the publication industry has been joined by up-and-coming publishers who saturate the market with similar products with very similar book titles. Publishers can be categorized as manufacturers just like food and industrial makers. However,they have attracted almost no attention as a subject for case study. What is the book market really like and what marketing strategies has each publisher worked out to develop new products and promote their sales? Goken, which has long enjoyed its status as a producer of quality books for learning a wide range of foreign languages,has a typical size as a publisher in Japan and is thus suitable for study. Descriptions in this case are largely based on the information, knowledge and opinions gained from Mr.Okumura Tamio, Goken’s department manager,in a series of interviews through face-to-face interactions and e-mail exchanges. First, a brief description of Goken will be made and an attempt will be made to uncover the current situation surrounding foreign language textbook publishers. Second, the features of Goken’s material development and marketing strategies will be analyzed.

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