Tag Archives: publishing

Tokyopop Blog Discusses the FAQ of Manga on Hiatus

One of the questions publishers tend to hear the most (aside from, “when are you going to publish [insert name of manga here*]?”) is “when are you going to publish the next volume of [insert name of manga here**]?”

This tends to be one of the most aggravating for publishers to hear, actually. It’s not that publishers don’t WANT to answer it, it’s just that they’d prefer not to have to answer it 100+ times and have to disappoint fans over and over. (Not a very fun part of the job.) Sometimes there’s no answer to give people because the next volume just isn’t on the schedule yet. The typical vague and neutral statements issued in response satisfy no one because such questions are often asked in environments where a more detailed answer cannot be given.

But now, a Tokyopop blogger (presumably an employee, but I have no idea who it is, so it could be an intern) has taken to the time to give fans the lowdown on why series are put on hiatus and what you can do to pull them out of limbo.

The post is extremely thorough and well-written, answering not only why releases are put off, but how pubs get manga into bookstores, whether or not bookstores are bigger sellers than online retailers, why older titles are out-of-print, just why you SHOULD put your money where your mouth is and a lot of other insight into how book publishing works from a sales point-of-view.

Here’s a choice quote:

So sometimes we put a title on hiatus to see if fans manage to find what copies we have out there before we invest in producing more. How fast things come back from hiatus is heavily reliant on how existing stock performs, and whether we see an increased demand as people browse and pick up the early volumes and tell their friends about them, and then their friends go and pick them up. We’ve had some things reemerge from hiatus and perform well (Silver Diamond and Your & My Secret are good examples of this), and some things that in spite of their apparent popularity among the fans and buzz in the blogosphere, just don’t quite pick up enough steady business.

It’s worth checking out, which is why I’m posting about it. Bravo, TPHenshu, this is a great post.

*Quite possibly the name of something already published by another company. I’ve seen this happen.

**Quite possibly something that is already available for purchase, just had the next release date announced or is not even on hiatus.

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What Manga Do You Want The Most?

Manga licensing is a tricky business. There are companies that won’t work with other companies, titles that are too expensive to reasonably bring over the U.S., mangaka who are wary about having their work brought to an English-speaking audience and many other things to consider before licensing a title for the finicky U.S. market. It’s especially hard to judge demand when there are so many people reading scanlations. Is this title popular enough despite all those people who’ve already read it for free? Will fans devote their money to a manga regardless? It’s hard to judge a risky market like manga publishing sometimes. The best that can be done sometimes is to listen to their demands, but that might not always be the easiest thing to do because of all the restrictions mentioned above.

But what if we pretended to wipe the slate clean and have our own publishing companies for a moment? You’re given the opportunity to license any two manga titles that you wanted to, regardless of price, publisher politics or the relative lack of demand for the titles you pick. What would you license?

Rose of Versailles? Sailor Moon? Jungle Emperor Leo? What are you dying to publish the most?

I’ve tried to give the subject matter a lot of thought. It’s really hard to pick just two titles because there’s probably two dozen on my mental shortlist. Do I really want this one over this other one? I’m not sure, because I’d probably buy either in an instant.

But I’ve decided. I would want to bring over Osamu Tezuka’s Nana-iro Inko (Rainbow Parakeet), which I’ve mentioned wanting before, and Saint Oniisan (Saint Young Men) by Hikaru Nakamura.

Had I a chance to bring over a third title, I would have probably picked Moto Hagio’s A Cruel God Reigns, but I think the above two titles would have to be my first two picks. Nana-iro Inko because it sounds like a fun, under-estimated Tezuka title and Saint Oniisan because I read it (when I felt less guilty about scanlations) and loved it so much. (I would buy for myself in an instant and recommend it to all my friends who have a good sense of humor about religion.) It would break my heart to never ever see either title in English, in my lifetime. (Whereas I just want to see more of Moto Hagio’s work and had a hard time picking between A Cruel God Reigns and Poe no Ichizoku.)

So I’ll ask again: If you could have any two titles published in your language, regardless of any extenuating circumstances, what would those two titles be?

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Causing the Death of an Industry

A few days ago, Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler) creator Yana Toboso posted a statement on her blog saying if people continued to watch anime illegally, “we creators and voice actors will not eat; this is no joke, we will starve and die. This is not ‘lol.'”  Update: Someone posted a great translation of her full blog post here.

When this bit of news broke on Anime News Network, many people on the ANN forums (not surprisingly) decried the author and declared they would no longer read her works in any capacity, or at least not buy any of her works or merchandise. One poster said, “Sorry, but after I watch it online and like it I may go and buy it depending on price and language. Sorry if you don’t get to eat right away, but i promise you will get your money in the end”

What a nice promise, right? But what if fans don’t carry out those promises? It’s happened before millions of times. I’ve even done it with some of my favorite series, just stopped buying them because I decided to focus on reading other series. It happens. But what happens when the alternative is not buying at all? When instead all your money goes to other things so you can’t buy anything to entertain you? I’m sure in this economy, a lot of fans will take entertainment that’s free so they can pay for their rent, something which Toboso might be able to relate to.

But does that make it right? Doesn’t Toboso have the right to eat? What about her editors? What about the people who print the  magazines and the books she makes? They work so hard to bring the manga to the fans, don’t they deserve the money to be made off of Black Butler‘s success? And that’s just the people in Japan, what about the people in other countries who work to bring the series (and others) to fans in a language they can understand?

What happens when fans can no longer justify having manga publishers in the US? (Don’t be overly-optimistic here, we all know that many manga companies stand on shaky ground at the moment and enough pushing in the wrong direction could send them underground.) What will happen when anime and manga goes back to the same obscurity in the US it had before 1997?

The people who work in the industry outside of Japan will lose their jobs. The people who run the myriad of anime conventions will likely lose their jobs as well. Sure, they can go and get jobs at other companies, in other industries, but will that pay their bills? Who knows?

And if the same happens in Japan, will Toboso really starve on the streets? Probably not, but she certainly won’t be creating manga. She’ll be burnt out and will start looking for another career where her work is appreciated. What good is it to have fans when they won’t help you sustain yourself?

Here’s what fans really need to think about, the worst case scenario: the point where enough fans have made enough justifications to not buy anime and manga that we start ruining the industry  in Japan.

First, the publishers will start downsizing. You’ll see fewer magazines being published (this is already happening, actually) which will mean fewer pages and less manga, less anime being created. It won’t be anything you care about, at first. It’ll keep going until the only magazines that are left are the ones publishing Naruto, Bleach, Vampire Knight, only those super-popular manga that do ridiculously well no matter what. And maybe some little kids’ stuff will be left over. Mostly because little kids understand that stealing has bad consequences for them.

By then thousands of people will have been laid off. Mangaka everywhere will be out of work as will their editors, the printers, the animators. On the other hand, Comiket will probably quadruple in size and places like Mandarake will see untold amount of success as they will be replacing their merchandising shelves with self-published doujinshi. In the U.S., Viz will be the only English-language manga-concentrated publisher still afloat.

The end will come when all the scanlators run out of 1970’s shojo manga to post. Fans will realize that they’ve cannibalized themselves, but it will be too late. Everyone who once worked in the industry will have moved on. Their libraries of manga and anime sitting in the corners of their homes, waiting to be re-read or re-watched when these people want to remember the times when they had a really awesome job. They won’t want to come back and re-form the industry because they’ll be too hurt that no one else loved it enough. After all, why would they want to be used and betrayed like that again? Why would they want to sacrifice their respect like that again?

The time to start changing the way you think about how right scanlations are is now or else this worst-case scenario won’t be that far off. This is a bad economy, and while I’m sure you’re hurting, that means the creators and other industry folks are hurting too. Now would be the best time to tell them, “yes, I like your work and I will purchase what I’ve read online.” If you don’t like what you’ve read online, find something you’d like enough to buy.  Now is the time to put away your lame excuses and start protecting what you love so that creators, publishers and others don’t have to take the steps towards an anime and manga holocaust. You don’t want to have to ask yourself what the industry will kill off first.

If you’re interested in finding legitimate ways to purchase or consume manga for little to no cost, please check out this post.

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Former Aurora Publishing Employees Start Manga Factory

Just when I thought the manga publishing industry was waiting for another awful blow, the industry gets a leg up instead!

Aurora Publishing was supposedly put on sale last month by it’s Japanese subsidiary Ohzora Publishing, but Aurora’s former staffers have now opened up Manga Factory completely free of Ohzora.

The new company is selling old Aurora manga on their website and at Anime Expo this week, where they will have a booth in the Exhibit Hall.

The company is also selling it’s first new title, Teen Apocalypse: Guilstein, in the Amazon Kindle store. The company website states that they will “also provide digital and print production services, as well as mobile device development for iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle and more.” Will the company put more effort into digital distribution than print? It remains to be seen, but with their first title only available online, my bet is on digital.

I am personally looking forward to seeing what Manga Factory brings to the table and excited to hear that from the ashes of one company, another can arise. The best of luck to Manga Factory!

For more imformation on Manga Factory, check out their newsletter and the Anime News Network’s post.

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Scanlations and the Anti-Piracy Coalition on Jammer’s Animovie Podcast

Another month, another podcast recorded!

Joseph Medina of Jammer’s Animovie Blog invited me back on his podcast, making this my third podcast to date! I think I’m getting better at this!

Along with Sam Kusek of Pop Culture Shock’s Manga Recon and Doctor of the SSAA Podcast, we discussed In this podcast we talk about the problems facing the manga publishing industry, the coalition that’s been formed between U.S. and Japanese manga publishers and what we’d like to see happen with digital manga distribution.

We talked a lot about what we would like to see the coalition do or not do, why people are still turning to scanlations or fansubs when there are simultaneous releases or simulcasts widely available for free and what scanlators and aggregation sites are doing to prevent themselves from being sued.

All in all, it was a great podcast tackling the choice issues of the manga publishing industry in America. Some great suggestions were thrown out there and I’m hoping that we’ll someday get to see our suggestions come to fruition.

Thanks for listening!

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Layoffs for Viz; Death Rattle for Go!Comi

This week has been a truly terrible week for manga publishing.

First the news swirled around the manga community that Go!Comi’s forums came down and last week it was reported that their domain name registration had expired. There have been no moves to revive the publisher’s website and a contact number came up as the personal number of Go!Comi’s CEO, David Wise. The publisher had not released any new books since September 2009,  well over six months ago.

On top of Go!Comi’s demise, it was announced today that Viz has laid off 55  employees, approximately 40% of their workforce. While this likely doesn’t mean the death of the U.S. manga giant, it certainly means that they might be having a little trouble money-wise and need to cut the chaff in order to survive. My heart goes out to those laid-off, as I’m sure it was quite a shock for them to hear. It’s definitely quite a shock considering the large number of releases Viz puts out and the company’s recent aggressive new initiatives such as SigIKKI and the New People building.

I would like to commend Gia Manry’s excellent reporting at  Anime Briefs on both subject matters. I’m really just doing a quick rehash so I can add some commentary below.

I would have to say that Go!Comi’s slow, quiet death hurts me the most. They had quite a number of great series and even though some of their later licensing choices were probably the worst decisions they could have made, I would have still bought them if it meant saving the company. Since the California company was in the Greater Los Angeles area, I had been hopeful that the company would resurrect itself so I could go bother them for a job. I say that not because I wanted more money or anything like that, but because I really DID want to go work for them. (I mentioned in a previous post that I’d met some of their employees and loved their attitudes.) I loved Tenshi Ja Nai, Cantarella, After School Nightmare, Bound Beauty and many others from the bottom of my heart and it kills me to know that I won’t be seeing the end of some of those wonderful series anytime soon. I’m sorry this is goodbye, Go!Comi.

While Viz’s huge layoff’s are a little shocking because everyone thought Viz was doing better than any other manga publisher at the moment, I’m not as surprised as I thought I would be. Viz is putting out a large amount of titles right now and not all of them are as successful as Viz would like, I’m sure. The company has clearly gotten a bit too big for it’s britches and now it’s legs have been cut out from under itself. This reminds me a little of what happened to TOKYOPOP a few years back and while it sucks that people have lost their jobs, perhaps it will be better for the company overall. I also can’t help but think that maybe a few of TOKYOPOP’s recent recovery strategies, such as publishing fewer books per month and spacing out releases more, might have saved a few jobs. Again, I am worried that Viz won’t be hiring soon (I would also really like to work for them as an editor someday. A girl can dream.), which puts a damper in my plans to seek out more manga publishers as my clients. Maybe in another year or so, Viz might think it needs another editor to keep up with the demands of it’s rigorous publishing schedule or might hire a few freelancers such as myself in the meantime. Until then, I am crossing my fingers and hoping my friends who work as freelancers for Viz aren’t affected by this too.

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My Life as a (Rookie) Editor: The Joy of Being Published

Have I talked about how awesome seeing your name on a published piece of work is? If not, then let me explain the joy…

People instantly have more respect for you. I am not kidding. Tell them you’re a published writer/editor/artist/whatever, then somehow you get street cred. Even aspiring writers and artists admire people with actually published work. It’s a big accomplishment. And when you think about it, it really is, getting ANYTHING published takes a lot of time and money from somewhere. People admire scientists and other non-writerly types with major published studies in some related journal they’ve probably never heard of. YOU have something to show for yourself. You’re not so hackjob that no one’s heard of because obviously someone published YOUR thing.

I won’t lie, it’s a huge ego boost. It’s hard to avoid getting a big head.  After all, having people read stuff with MY name on it is what got me into journalism in high school, made me decide to be a journalism major and eventually led me to going into the manga industry. Sure, there were a lot of other reasons like hating my high school Spanish teacher and really really loving manga, but seeing my name on a published book keeps me there no matter what. I could compare it to ecstasy, but that would be overdoing it. It just makes you feel like you’ve got something to really really brag about AND it’s your job.

Seriously, though, even my MOM wants to read manga now. And show it off to her friends. If you asked me 10 years ago if hell would freeze over before my mother cracked open a manga, I would have said “YES” with no hesitation and maximum emphasis.

Not quite enough yet for a new banner, but it feels so awesome.

Making the joy of being published even greater this week, Fruits Basket Fanbook Banquet got onto the New York Times Bestseller’s List.

I also found my name in Aria vol. 5. Ironically, my first name was spelled with only one ‘l’ (which is more common in Latin American countries where Daniela is a popular name, but it’s not the way my mom named me, you know.)  Before you ask me why I didn’t copy edit the credits page, let me tell you that I’m fairly certain that it was misspelled after I finished my internship and therefore I wasn’t there to catch it.

Oh, and I got to work on Hetalia volume 1! (I loved it.)

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