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§ ICv2 finds out more about Viz’s original manga initiative:

Are you looking for manga-style properties?

If by “manga” you mean what is generally considered manga in the United States (fantasy and romance aimed at teenagers), then no. If by “manga” you mean what is meant by manga in Japan (a broad range of comics that emphasize serial storytelling, cliffhangers, reader feedback, a supportive editorial process, and a rich creator voice), then yes we are.


§ Benjamin Ong Pang Kean interviews just about every manga company on earth about the Kodansha bombshell

“The manga market is certainly evolving and sometimes volatile. With Kodansha entering the marketplace and TokyoPop restructuring, it’s hard to predict exactly what will happen. Everyone’s aware that there’s too much product competing for shelf space, and there’s definitely been a market “correction” going on, with retailers and customers being more selective about what they choose to buy. Publishers will have to be more selective as well about what they publish. The approach of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks clearly doesn’t work anymore. I think what we’re seeing is a market starting to mature.


§ Erica Friedman examines the business of publishing manga in America from multiple viewpoints:

So, I decide to go to a bookstore. Here’s a spot where consumers have a serious disconnect between their reality and real reality. They think – the bookstores will have books. Or they will order books for me! The reality is that bookstores only want to shelve books that will sell. So they will almost never order a book/author they don’t know, that has a niche audience, a small chance of selling, or a book that they don’t know anyone wants. Whether they have a lot of manga shelf space or not, real estate is always at a premium. Naruto sells, Bleach sells. These titles, for many reasons (some of which I touched upon last week) sell multiple copies. Strawberry Panic Light Novel (and I don’t want to beat on Seven Seas paticularly, I’m just choosing that because it is a niche publication by being both Yuri and a Light Novel,) might, maybe, possibly, sell a copy. If you are a bookstore – which are you going to place an order for?

  1. Friedman’s general view of bookstores is somewhat accurate. Barnes & Noble will offer to order a book if a customer asks for a title and the store does not have it.

    My philosophy of bookselling was: offer the best selection of any store in the country. I worked at the B&N at Lincoln Center. That store has a two high schools (one of which specializes in the Arts) less than three blocks away. It has an affluent neighborhood. It is near a major NYC tourist attraction. That store caters to people who are looking for something different, something interesting, and who are open to recommendations.

    Yes, space is limited. Yes, there are many titles. So all I could do was stock the first volumes, stock what I knew to be classics or interesting to the general reader, and track sales on a weekly basis. When I started in 1999, Tintin and Asterix were not stocked at all, but now sell nicely. (They sell phenomenally, considering they are European titles with no media tie-ins!)

    The secret, of course, is to find someone like myself who is passionate about the category. The same is true in comicbook stores. They suffer the same problems as bookstores, with the added risk of non-returnability.

    The smartest thing a bookseller can do is engage the customer. Ask them what they are looking for. Suggest similar titles. Share your passion and joy. Ask them for recommendations. (One teen said that DeathNote was better than Watchmen. So I read DeathNote. I still think Watchmen is better.) Set up a reading group.

    Oh, and those mulitple copy titles? Toss them on a table or endcap, and use that as an advertisement for the entire section. That will free up space on the shelves for other titles.

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