The manga publisher Viz Media has done well with Shonen Jump: The magazine, established in 2002, has a monthly circulation of just over 200,000, which is pretty respectable, and then Viz sells the same stories all over again as graphic novels.
Now they are adding online manga to the mix: The December issue of Shonen Jump carries a full-page announcement of a new online manga service available only to subscribers to the magazine. One series, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, will run exclusively online until it is collected in graphic novel form. The site will also include "massive online previews" of two more series, Toriko and Bakuman: Subscribers can read the first four chapters just before the graphic novel comes out. The rest of the Shonen Jump series will continue in print only.
I e-mailed some questions to Viz spokesperson Jane Lui, and she forwarded them to Joel Enos, the senior editor of Shonen Jump, who provided some more details of the new package.
Brigid Alverson: How will readers subscribe to the service—do you have to be a Shonen Jump subscriber or can you get an online-only subscription?
Joel Enos: A subscription (for now) is to the magazine as a whole. When you subscribe to the magazine, you also get the access to the exclusive online content of the magazine.
Brigid: Which series will be carried?
Joel: In print: Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Ultimo, Psyren
Online series: Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan
Online Massive Preview (less pages per month than the serialized Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, but still large portions of manga available online to subscribers only): Bakuman, Toriko.
Brigid: Will you be moving series out of the print edition to the web only?
Joel: We are not moving anything out of the print version at this time but we will have Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, serialized monthly, and Toriko and Bakuman previewed online as "massive previews" (a certain amount of pages per month from the new volume that is forthcoming).
Brigid: Are you considering discontinuing the print edition?
Brigid: Will readers be able to access the online comics for an indefinite time or just for one or two months?
Joel: Pages will be posted online every month, but will come down within a month, in most cases. We eventually plan to have manga samplers which will be the first chapter of every Shonen Jump series we publish on line as a sampler. But for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, we will put up a certain amount of the manga (as of yet to be determined) per month—and we will be serializing it all. So if subscribers follow along, they will be able to read the entire series online. For Toriko and Bakuman, we will be putting up huge portions of each volume as a "massive preview". Subscribers can start reading the new volume online and then continue the story in the graphic novels (for Toriko and Bakuman only—for Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, readers will actually be able to read the entire series online if they prefer).
Brigid: Will you be introducing new series online or primarily using it for established series?
Joel: We are debuting Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, online as our first serialized series exclusive to subscribers only. We do plan to do that with other new series and projects in the future. But we will also use the online magazine and manga and website to showcase past and present titles as well as debut. The options are endless and we're excited to test all methods of getting manga out to our readers.