Tokyopop, a company that has never been afraid to play around with format, is bringing back the monthly comic — but only in a limited way.
Manga are serialized in monthly anthologies in Japan but are generally available only in collected form in the United States. In the manga world, everyone is a trade-waiter.
So it’s interesting that Tokyopop is shifting gears a bit with the second volume of Hetalia. Having already released the first volume in several digital formats ahead of the print edition, the publisher is now releasing the second volume in weekly installments via the comiXology app. The first two chapters are available now, and the remaining chapters will be doled out every Wednesday until the volume is complete. The first volume of Hetalia was also divided into individual chapters on comiXology, but they were all released simultaneously.
This points to something interesting about digital comics services like comiXology: Right now, the format is aimed at floppies, not trades. The default comic is 22 pages for 99 cents or $1.99, and there aren’t too many graphic novels on comiXology — Hetalia is the only manga that I know of. One reason may be that readers who tend to be wary of dropping a big chunk of change on a digital-only book will be more willing to buy it in small chunks for 99 cents a chapter. With six chapters in a volume, Tokypop can give one away for free and still take in almost five dollars a volume.
Weekly serialization makes a lot of sense for a manga like Hetalia, which already had a big fanbase in the U.S. It’s a gag comic, so continuity isn’t a huge factor for readers; it will be interesting to see if Tokyopop goes this route with some of its other manga in the near future.
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