Japanese publishing giant Kodansha and Dai Nippon Printing have joined up to purchase Vertical, Inc., the American publishing company that specializes in Engilsh-language versions of Japanese literature, including manga by Tezuka, Kou Yaginuma, and Felipe Smith, among others. The companies each purchased about 46 percent of the company, which has about $930,000 in capitalization.
Vertical marketing director Ed Chavez spoke with Publishers Weekly and explained that the deal adds financial and printing support for Vertical, and adds access to more licenses. The line will stay the same size but its output will be about 50 percent Kodansha licenses.
Chavez said that while the acquisition would give Vertical access to more of Kodansha licenses, he said he expected that the list will be about 50% Kodansha and non-Kodansha licenses. Vertical also plans to roll out a children’s book line in June, publishing two to three picture books and/or manga aimed at younger readers. “Japanese kids books have been under represented on our list,” Chavez said, noting that the kids books licenses came through DNP.
Vertical launched in 2001 with founder Hiroki Sakai and has become known for its literary manga output, notably a number of works by Manga god Osamu Tezuka that have gained wide acclaim, including ODE TO KIRIHITO and APOLLO’S SONG. The more fanciful cat manga CHI’S SWEET HOME by Konami Kanata was a critical hit last year.
Kodansha, one of the largest Japanese publishers, has recently announced a more hands on move into the US market, with its own Kodansha USA imprint, distributed by Random House. Chavez told PW that Vertical had already moved into the Kodansha US offices, so a fairly close working relationship should be expected.
Chavez had been updating the story on his Twitter feed.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.