Tim Craig’s Cool Japan Finds Success as Textbook

Author Tim Craig’s book Cool Japan is selling well, getting great reviews, and has even been adopted as a textbook.

Tim published the book Cool Japan: Case Studies from Japan’s Cultural and Creative Industries in September 2017. It contains 12 case studies on Japanese cultural industries, both pop and traditional, and has been recently updated to cover the recent sumo scandal.

Tim holds a Ph.D. in International Business and Business Strategy, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biology, English, East Asian Studies, and International Management. He has 20 years’ teaching and research experience in top business schools in Canada and Japan, and an extensive publication record, including three books and numerous articles in academic and popular outlets. He speaks and reads Japanese fluently. Now retired from teaching, he is the owner and chief editor of Bluesky Academic Publishing, which provides editing and publishing services.

“I’m retired from teaching,” Tim says, “so up until last year, Bluesky was something I’d been doing on the side, but now it’s everything.”

As a former business professor, the author is no stranger to the case study model used in business schools. In this model, students read about a company and a business dilemma, and come to class prepared to discuss the case study and what they think the company should do. In fact, he used Cool Japan in his own course, the Business of Japanese Pop Culture, for an international MBA program. Some of the chapters of the book actually began as student projects in which a student would write a teaching case and Tim would continue to develop and rewrite it. The book is not just for business classes, though. It’s also being adopted in Introduction to Japan and Japanese Culture courses as well as university courses on pop culture.

To market the book to potential adopters, Tim researched every university with Asian or Japan studies departments or Japan-related courses in the English-speaking world and reached out to the professors who teach relevant subjects by email.

His message went something like this:

Looking for a textbook to use in a course on Japanese pop culture? One that is broad in coverage, extensively researched, enjoyable to read, up-to-date, and reasonably priced for students? Cool Japan: Case Studies from Japan’s Cultural and Creative Industries may be just what you need.

Cool Japan covers Japan’s pop music industry, idols, AKB48, Johnny & Associates, video games, anime, kawaii and Hello Kitty, tea, sumo, the Japanese government’s “Cool Japan” strategy, and more. It also comes with teaching notes that make it possible, for example, to effectively and confidently teach a class on anime or video games even if you do not watch anime or play video games and are not an “expert” on these topics.

Here are some comments from university faculty who have adopted Cool Japan for their courses:

“Wide-ranging and in depth on each topic.”

“I have been searching for a main textbook for my Japanese Pop Culture class and I just found a perfect one, your recently published Cool Japan book.”

“A great fit for this course.”

“The teaching notes with detailed instructions are very helpful.”

Cool Japan is available on Amazon in Kindle or paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075HJW61M

Please find attached to this email an inspection copy of the book in EPUB format (for reading on PCs, tablets, etc.). If you have any questions about using Cool Japan in a course or would like a copy of the Teaching Notes, please email [email redacted].

In addition to selling the book on Amazon, Tim has actually had some luck selling the individual case studies on their own. This is similar, he says, to the model used by Ivey Publishing at University of Western Ontario in Canada and Harvard Business Publishing. University departments pay a per-student fee to license the case study. With each classroom purchase, the instructor also gets a master with teaching notes.

Tim said Pressbooks was a perfect tool to format the book for sale in this way, since Pressbooks makes it easy to export just a chapter of the book on its own.

He has also been marketing the book to a more general audience, but notes that that was much harder than marketing the book as a textbook, which had such a clear target audience. For a general audience, he has marketed the book through reviews on Amazon, social media, word of mouth, sharing with friends and family, and other strategies.

“It’s so true what they say,” Tim says. “You can write a great book, but marketing, that’s where the real work is.”

Cool Japan is neither Tim’s first book nor his last. Currently, he’s working on his next book, Taking Care of Business, a business English textbook. For this book, he has been using the built-in features of Pressbooks to create visual elements such as multiple-choice questions.

No Compass Needed cover Tim also assists other authors. Recently, he helped Earl Cooper to publish the book No Compass Needed: Travel Tales from Asia and the Pacific. In No Compass Needed, Earl and friends take readers from the telescopes at the rim of the world atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea to a meeting with machete-packing aboriginal ladies on the wall around Cambodia’s Angkor Thom, and on adventures to many little-known places in between.

“It’s a very unique book,” Tim says. “Both the pictures and [the author’s] particular voice.”

Nikki Scott of South East Asian Backpacker calls No Compass Needed, “Wonderfully written, very entertaining and fun! I was smiling all the way through!”

Of note, this book contains 130 images, which Tim says were fairly simple to import using Pressbooks. He offers these tips:

“For the paperback, I found that what worked best was to choose large size (not full size) for any image where the original was bigger than large size, and full size for any image where the original was smaller than large size. One exception to the above for No Compass Needed were two or three much-taller-than-wide pictures where choosing large size caused the caption to move to the next page (instead of being under the pic). For these I slowly reduced the size till the caption got on the same page as the pic in the pdf.”

Also, even though below-300-dpi images will throw warnings when you go to print-on-demand, depending on the scenario, Tim found that, depending on the type of image and their context, smaller images often turn out just fine.

Tim has a long track record editing academic work, but he credits Pressbooks with helping him to take his work further as an author and a publisher.

“The publishing thing kind of happened accidentally,” Tim says. “I’m just happy I discovered Pressbooks,” Tim says. “That’s what led me into doing publishing.”