On Tuesday, March 28th, former Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan spoke to an audience of more than eight hundred people at the Statler Auditorium on the Cornell University campus. His visit was the capstone event in the publication of his book My Nuclear Nightmare: Leading Japan through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free Future. We published his book in February this year, translated into English by Jeffrey S. Irish from the original Japanese.
The work of the CUP team to acquire and publish this book is a perfect example of the way in which we are striving to help change the world one book at a time.
Mr. Kan’s book and lecture, part of the Distinguished Speaker Series from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, focused on the events of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. From our perspective, Mr. Kan’s visit, the lecture, the packed house, and the seemingly never-ending line of eager book buyers waiting for a signed copy and photo opportunity with the former prime minister can only be seen as an unqualified success.
The work of Director Dean Smith, Editor-in-Chief Mahinder Kingra, and the rest of the CUP team to acquire and publish this book is a perfect example of the way in which we are striving to bring books of global impact and importance to fruition and to help change the world one book at a time. The audience, a mixture of university dignitaries, students, and members of the wider community, shared in Mr. Kan’s vision for a nuclear-free energy solution to global energy needs, and we all walked away from the evening with questions, ideas, and brains churning with possibilities.
Book events are, for those of us in the book-publishing world, often fraught with uncertainty in their purpose and effectiveness. What do we hope to achieve from a book talk and signing? How many people will show up? Will the host bookseller be pleased with the return on their part? Will the author view it as a success? And so on. We have all arranged book events that are unmitigated failures, where a combination of timing, location, weather, and other factors lead to a small turnout, few book sales, and limited—if any—media attention. On the other hand, we have all enjoyed the sort of night we experienced on Tuesday, when the host organizations have all done their part, when the author is charismatic and knowledgeable, and when the audience is large and has a desire to buy the book in question.
Successful book events are, in many ways, the most public examples of the vitality of the Press. Our authors, product, skills, knowledge, and ability to touch others, to change how they see things, are on display, visible to the broader public. When all parties involved come together and produce an event as successful as Mr. Kan’s talk and signing, we all take heart that what we are doing has value beyond that which we instill upon our work. Eight-hundred-plus people in an auditorium, more than fifty books sold, a grateful author, and a stimulated university and local community are true indicators that we have succeeded, across all departments in the Press, in publishing a worthy and fine book.
Cornell University Press thanks Mr. Kan for his visit, stimulating lecture, and honest and inspiring book. We are lucky to publish books, and nights such as this one provide us all with tangible and memorable proof of just that.
My Nuclear Nightmare: Leading Japan through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free Future
By Naoto Kan
Translated by Jeffrey S. Irish