The NY Times has a piece by Miki Tanikawa on manga’s shift to mobile phone distribution in Japan, and we expect that just about every word of this article will strike as a hammer blow to US publishers. Most of the move is in women’s comics, and the customers are women:
“It brought back memories,” she said, adding that she had once owned the whole series, which she kept in her room. “I sold all of them because they were crowding the space. But for just a few clicks on my mobile, I was able to read them all again.”
But perhaps the most crucial driver behind the cellphone comic boom is its attractiveness to women. You can tell just by looking at the best-selling titles on mobile comic sites — all involve romance. “It’s a bit hard commenting publicly on this, but the most popular comics on the mobile are adult-oriented ones for women,” including love stories with sexually explicit content, Mr. Nakabayashi said. Translation: Women who do not want to be seen reading these titles in public places like the train helped create the market for manga on the cellphone, which accords them privacy in ways that magazines and books do not.
If the migration is slow, it is the publishers themselves standing in its way, critics say. Publishers of leading titles like Kodansha, Shueisha and Shogakukan — who are also leading book publishers — have in most cases released content for mobile use that had already been published in magazines and books.
So while the explosion in cellphone manga is not a simple story of migration from print to digital, most experts agree that the future of manga lies more on the mobile than on paper.
You need to read the whole thing, but those are the talking points. Now, this could be a evolutionary offshoot that isn’t applicable in the US — there aren’t many US comics for women, after all — but most trends from Japan eventually find some US expression.
Ignore this article at your peril.