Last week, the manga publisher Tokyopop announced they would release the first volume of Hetalia: Axis Powers digitally, via Zinio, before the print edition comes out—and at a lower price to boot, $5.99 as opposed to $10.99 for the print edition. Curious about their motives, I e-mailed a few questions to Tokyopop and Hetalia editor Cindy Suzuki was kind enough to answer them.
One more thing: In my last post on the subject I found an odd listing for Hetalia on Amazon and wondered whether it was a bootleg edition. Thanks to alert commenter Brack, who figured out that it is a printout of the Wikipedia article on the Hetalia franchise. I'm not sure why anyone would pay 12 bucks for that, but hey, it's a free country.
Brigid: Why did you decide to release the digital edition both earlier and at a lower price than print?
Cindy: We thought Hetalia was the right brand to launch a digital-first program—there's been such a demand to read it, we decided digital was the best way to satisfy the Hetalia cravings. Also, the ongoing battle against illegal scans weighed into our decision to release it early.
To read it for free, the digital edition of Hetalia can be borrowed from libraries through OverDrive. It will not be available if the library didn't order a copy so you should definitely encourage your library to look into it.
Through Zinio, you can read a copy on your computer (it's not an app). The $5.99 price was determined through current market research as well as a lot of discussion internally as well as with our partners in Japan.
Also, you should be aware that the price for the print edition is $10.99. Early on, it was $12.99 in our database, but we lowered it. Because of the way solicitation cycles work, the higher price was fed into some systems (Amazon, for example), but the price is $10.99. Pre-orders will be billed the lower price. As an added note, color pages are included in all versions, but only the print edition will include bonus content.
Brigid: Will you do this for all volumes of Hetalia or just the first?
Cindy: We haven't decided for sure, but I don't see why we wouldn't do it for all volumes. I think it's generating a lot of buzz, and we're having fun with the fans.