Help Us Get into Paperback

Language and Citizenship in Japan

Click on the book cover for more details on the book, including an order form with a 20% discount.

by Robert Moorehead

(Update: Routledge is offering a 20 percent discount on the book, if you use the code ERJ69. Ordering details are available by clicking here to access and attached PDF file and order form.)

Last year, I published a chapter in the book Language and Citizenship in Japan. The fine folks at Routledge released the book in hardcover and Kindle formats, and now we’d like to see the book in paperback. Why? Because the hardcover book costs $116, and the Kindle edition $100. Only libraries will purchase the book at that price, and I’d like to see the book on more people’s shelves. We do this work not for book royalties, but to spread and share ideas.

Routledge generally sells paperbacks at a fraction of the the cost of hardcovers, and a paperback edition would likely bring the price of the Kindle edition down, also. The lower the price, the more likely people will buy the book and order it for classes—and the more our ideas will be part of the debates.

To get the magic paperback edition released, Routledge first needs to sell 200 copies of the hardcover. We can get there if more libraries purchase the book. So, if your library doesn’t already have it, then please encourage them to order it. This link gives you the information your library will need to order the book from Routledge:

Here’s a blurb about the book:

The relationship between language and citizenship in Japan has traditionally been regarded as a fixed tripartite: ‘Japanese citizenship’ means ‘Japanese ethnicity,’ which in turn means ‘Japanese as one’s first language.’ Historically, most non-Japanese who have chosen to take out citizenship have been members of the ‘oldcomer’ Chinese and Korean communities, born and raised in Japan. But this is changing: the last three decades have seen an influx of ‘newcomer’ economic migrants from a wide range of countries, many of whom choose to stay. The likelihood that they will apply for citizenship, to access the benefits it confers, means that citizenship and ethnicity can no longer be assumed to be synonyms in Japan.

This is an important change for national discourse on cohesive communities. This book’s chapters discuss discourses, educational practices, and local linguistic practices which call into question the accepted view of the language-citizenship nexus in lived contexts of both existing Japanese citizens and potential future citizens. Through an examination of key themes relating both to newcomers and to an older group of citizens whose language practices have been shaped by historical forces, these essays highlight the fluid relationship of language and citizenship in the Japanese context.

It’s an excellent book, with engaging chapters written by leading scholars that are appropriate for general and academic audiences. If I weren’t already in the book, I’d definitely buy it—in paperback. And if my library didn’t have it, I’d push them to order it.

I’ll avoid for now any existential whinging about the fact that we can’t even sell 200 copies of a fine book. It’s depressing, and I’d rather not think about it. But this is a reflection of the tight market for academic books, where good books don’t get ordered because of shrinking budgets. Less expensive editions of books don’t get published because the more expensive editions didn’t sell, thereby discouraging people even more. It’s a downward spiral. But we can try to stop this downward trend by promoting each others’ books, and by gently nudging our librarians toward the texts that we want to read.

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