One of the first things you can notice in Japan is the country's print media business is HUGE. There are many "mega bookstores" packed with a huge volume of books and magazines (Did I mention there's a "Google Earth" magazine?) This is not only the case for the megastores. At local convenient stores (which are everywhere in Japan) you can easily spot guys/gals spending seemingly endless hours reading magazines.

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Magazine stand in a typical Japanese convenient store

Excellent business opportunities arise whenever a huge traditional industry goes through a fundamental change. In this age of distributed media economy, Japanese print media industry will eventually have to embrace the power of distributed media in one way or another. And there will be a huge business opportunity coming from that transition.

I know Japanese people are conservative especially when it comes to the print media. People still love to read newspapers, magazines, and mangas (comic books) in paper format. But the distributed online media offers too many advantages over the print media to simply conclude the "new media" will never take off in Japan.

At the center of this media transition will be blogs. Blog can be simply defined as a tool to enable people to publish their own magazines. What is a magazine? In essence, magazine is a "meeting place" between content generators (editors and reporters), readers, and advertisers. You might say the newspaper too brings those three parties together. But the difference is, magazine is more highly focused on a specific vertical field. What does that mean? It means magazine is the heaven for advertisement. People don't hate ads in magazines: some people even buy magazines to see the ads and keep up with the trend (think Vogue or GQ).

Agile Media Network recently launched in Japan. It's the Federated Media/Weblogs Inc/Gawker Media of Japan. It's got 12 blogs and about 3M monthly PVs. The AMN approach might be one way to create a good business, but I think a bigger opportunity comes from ENABLING the traditional media companies to embrace the distributed media. We all know the story of "selling shovels and jeans".
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