A lot of things are currently happening with Viz and I thought it was time to do a little news round up for this blog. Below I remark upon 1) end of Shojo Beat magazine this summer, 2) the creation of an on-line seinen manga mag IKKI, following in the footsteps of the long defunct mag PULP, and 3) end of year price hike on all Shonen Jump and Shojo Beat books.
1. Anime News Network confirms that Shojo Beat magazine will be ending in just a few weeks with the July 2009 issue, which will actually be released in June. I'll really miss Shojo Beat -- it started up just a few months after I started reading manga in earnest. Through the mag I discovered joy that is NANA and as a whole the magazine allowed me to figure out my taste as a manga fan by featuring a diverse line-up of shojo works. I never minded the change in the manga titles serialized in the magazine, and in fact most of the time they were actually appreciated since this sped up releases of titles like NANA.
And because the issue of bloggers bitching about the end of the mag but not actually buying it has come up a lot since the news broke, I feel compelled to note that I ordered Shojo Beat through my comic book shop every month (trying to support local businesses and all, although I guess I should have subscribed and upped the circulation numbers. And saved a lot of money. Oh well).
2. Viz is starting up an on-line seinen manga mag called IKKI. They've already posted the first chapter of Daisuke Igarashi's Children of the Sea, which is lovely and everyone should go check it out. The comic reader they are using is fairly easy to navigate (it is the same one they are using for RIN-NE).
Here is the relevant info from the site itself:
Now, in partnership with VIZ Media and its "VIZ Signature" line of graphic novels, IKKI is bringing the works of some of its top creators to the English-language audience. Each month, new chapters of featured manga series will be offered online in their entirety. After the completion of the online serialization of a volume, that volume will become available as a VIZ Signature graphic novel, subject to reader demand. Also, each month new content—such as creator interviews, feature articles, news, and giveaways—will be posted on the site.
The full site will launch in August 2009. We hope that you look forward to it.
We'll have to see what "reader demand" means, but I look forward to simply having access to works that otherwise wouldn't be available in the English marketplace.
3. Viz will be raising its prices on its Shojo Beat and Shonen Jump books to $9.99, which is a dollar hike for Beat books, a two dollar hike for Jump books. (Found out about this via Simon Jones over at his Icarus Blog, who points to a mania.com thread breaking the news here.) Checking amazon.com it looks like the poster at mania is correct and the price increase will be implemented for October's books.
This is the passing of an era -- I'm not really upset by this financial decision by Viz, they're catching up to a price point for manga that was implemented almost five years ago, but this means making tougher choices in the future about which Viz books I can pick up. Viz puts out a LOT of series I currently follow and a lot of series I'd like to follow in the future. Of course, a lot of Viz series I like are also Viz Signature series, which means they already are a little more expensive than most other series (although so completely worth it).
It's easy to put this in perspective since most American TPB's are $14.99-$19.99 (and sometimes more depending on the specific book & publisher) but the wallet still feels the pinch, of course. Particularly when we look at long running shonen series like Gin Tama or Reborn!, which are both fun, silly books, but at $9.99 it becomes hard justifying buying them both.