As rumored for months, Kodansha, the Japanese publishing giant, is shifting its relationship with Random House. Del Rey Manga is shutting down, but Kodansha Comics will remain, to be distributed by Random House. Del Rey Manga’s associate publisher, Dallas Middaugh, will move over to Random House Publisher Services to act as the liaison for Kodansha.
From a new report at Publishers Weekly, it seems that the rest of Del Rey’s comics publishing — which includes such successful titles as this week’s NYT #1 best seller THE EXILE by Diana Gabaldon, will remain in place:
Although a Random House spokesperson told PW that the new arrangement would not affect non-manga graphic novels published by Villard/Del Rey, they declined to comment on the status of remaining Del Rey Manga staff, such as licensing manager Mutsumi Miyazaki and editor Tricia Narwani, who have both worked with Del Rey Manga line virtually since its beginning. Del Rey Manga marketing manager Ali Kokmen was laid-off earlier this summer.
Current Kodansha titles published by Del Rey will gradually transition over to Kodansha USA.
Kodansha, the biggest publisher in Japan, entered the US market about a year ago but their efforts have been sporadic, including reprints of AKIRA and GHOST IN THE SHELL. They will gradually ramp up their efforts in the US market.
With Del Rey Manga transitioning to a distribution relationship, the manga repositioning of the last two years is just about complete. However, Kodansha’s Irie remains optimistic that this maturing audience can will move to new material, telling PW:
Asked about sales declines in the manga market, Irie said he believed them to be “temporary” and said that “fans who started reading manga when it first came to the U.S. market are now familiar with reading manga. They remain a good audience for young adult manga, which is a very popular genre in Japan, and we expect that as our fans grow up, their kids will start reading manga too. We think this is a good opportunity to expand across all demographics.”
Kodansha and Random House Transform and Expand Their U.S. Manga Publishing Relationship
Kodansha Ltd. and Random House Inc. have announced their plans to change and expand their manga publishing relationship in North America. The companies are shifting from a licensing relationship to a sales and distribution arrangement as of December 1, 2010.
The current relationship between Kodansha and Random House began in 2003, with the first titles debuting in 2004 under the latter’s Del Rey Manga imprint. Since then, more 500 volumes have been published, including many bestselling manga series.
Under the new arrangement, Kodansha’s subsidiary, Kodansha USA Publishing, LLC, established in 2008 and led by Yoshio Irie, will be publishing Kodansha-originated manga themselves directly in the U.S. English-language market with strong support from Random House Publisher Services (RHPS), Random House’s third-party distribution division. Del Rey Manga associate publisher Dallas Middaugh will remain with the program, transferring to RHPS.
“We are very excited to extend our relationship with Random House,” said Yoshio Irie, president and CEO of Kodansha USA Publishing. “Both companies see opportunity in the American manga market, and we look forward to working together to further the distribution and exposure of manga in the United States.”
“We are thrilled to have a publisher as distinctive as Kodansha USA Publishing join the Random House Publisher Services portfolio,” said Jeff Abraham, the division’s president. “Kodansha is one of the great worldwide publishing brands for the manga category, and we will do everything to support their efforts with our many booksellers and distributors who love selling manga titles.”
Del Rey’s ongoing manga titles which were licensed by Kodansha will be gradually taken over by Kodansha USA Publishing on a per-title basis.