Kiyondo Matsui, the president of the publishing house Bungei Shunju, spoke at this year's All-Japan Library Conference, which took place in Tokyo on Oct. 12 and 13. During his talk, Matsui asked the assembled professionals to no longer acquire bunko editions of books for lending in their libraries.

Bunko editions account for 30 percent of Bungei Shunju's sales, according to a document Matsui distributed before the speech, and in recent years libraries have been "aggressively" lending out more bunko editions than they had in the past. This practice adversely affects Bungei Shunju's bottom line, which has been suffering for a number of years due to loss of revenue to online content and other digital media resources.

Various media took note of Matsui's unusual remarks. Libraries and the publishing industry have always had a fairly congenial relationship because the mission of libraries — to promote reading — is, in the end, advantageous to publishers, even if libraries give away the content that publishers wish to sell. Matsui's complaint, however, indicated that he thought libraries had crossed a line and that he no longer viewed the relationship as congenial.