As loathe as I am to link to the same site in two days (yeah, right) I encourage you all to check out Chris Butcher’s “Idiosyncratic Take on the Future of Manga” if you haven’t already. To sum up: Butcher thinks that it’s in the interest of both the Direct Market (i.e. Diamond and comic book stores) and most midlist manga publishers to develop a better relationship now that the big box book stores are being more choosy about how they stock their shelves:
– It’s entirely possible to successfully publish good manga in North America, if everyone involved reconsiders their point of view on what successful means. The art-comix model espoused by D&Q–good books, released less frequently with lots of fanfare and a 10-cent per page price point rather than less than half that… for some releases. I don’t think anyone should expect Naruto-level sales, or even the sales levels that midlist titles hit a few years back, but if buy-in quantities are going to be capped by bookstores because they want to limit their exposure, doesn’t it make a kind of sense to make sure the price-point is higher on each of those units? At least when the material is intended for anyone outside of the mainstream shonen/shoujo demographic.
This, of course, ties in with ICv2’s recent report that projected manga releases are down for 2009.
Anyway, I think Chris makes a lot of good points — the DM and manga publishers should have a better relationship in this worsening economy — but, also like Chris, I’m a bit cynical about the reality of this occurring at any substantial level — and not necessarily for the reasons he lists.
This is pure anecdotal evidence I realize, but I know of a couple of stores that attempted to make inroads to attract manga readers and failed horribly. Now, you can reasonably argue that they did a poor job of it, but I think it’s also true that most manga-buyers are trained to go either to the big chains or online to get their fix and even in this retail downturn, retraining those readers to come to your store instead can take a huge investment, both in time and money.
Meanwhile, in semi-related news, David Welsh names the books he’s looking forward to the most this year over at Comics Reporter.
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