Maps and publications

I love maps and could look at them for hours. So, when it’s come to my teaching, presentations and publications, I’ve often included maps. This has not always been straight-forward. There are often copyright limitations with using maps made by others. Creating maps also used to be quite difficult on computers and you often ended up with something which wasn’t really of ideal quality. As technology has improved, so things have got easier. But also harder. The expectations are probably now for maps to look very good. On top of this, reading habits are changing. If someone is reading an eBook, it’s probably just as easy (if not easier) to go on to a digital map as it is to access and use a map located somewhere within the book itself. Although the same may not be true for those reading a physical book, most readers can still get to a map and get more information from that than anything that is in a book.

The map of Japan that appeared in my first book, Shinkansen: From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan.
The route map of JL123 which I used in my book Dealing with Disaster in Japan: Responses to the JL123 Crash as well as other publications.

For academic works, there is still a place for maps, but for fiction (other than fantasy), maps create other problems. For my novel Hijacking Japan, I put the locations referred to in the book on a Google Map, as well as including a map in the paperback version.

I’ve considered doing something with my latest book, Tokyo 20/20 Vision, and I may yet do so. But one problem with making such a map is that it can give away spoilers as to what places appear in the book and so give clues about the direction the book will take. If people are merely going to seek out the map after reading it, then perhaps it is no different if they search up the places themselves.

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