I'll leave the amount of gloating and "I told you so" I should be doing right now as an exercise for the student.
Brigid Alverson (whom I’ve never met but know on twitter) has an excellent write-up currently posted to Publisher’s Weekly on the current state of the American manga industry: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/comics/article/56693-manga-2013-a-smaller-more-sustainable-market.html
I was first informed of this excellent article via the equally excellent comics-news blog The Beat [aka comicsbeat.com] : http://comicsbeat.com/must-read-shocker-there-is-still-a-us-manga-industry/
And now that I’m done thanking others for their hard work and excellent journalistic instincts —
[no, really, what I do here is much easier; being in the peanut gallery is not only less work, we get to pick-and-choose when it comes to predictions]
…I’d like to take a moment to congratulate myself for posting this way back in 2008:
Manga isn’t growing by leaps and bounds anymore; it never was a license to print money and now the initial boom (which I’ve dated to 2004-2007, though others say it started earlier) is settling into something more like steady single-digit [year-on-year] growth.
Steady single-digit growth isn’t just good, it’s excellent. We all need to get our heads to a place where we can agree on that, instead of obsessing over what the fan world used to look like and lamenting the crash of the anime DVD market. It’s a shame, that, but manga isn’t anime and with Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan all partnered-up (or getting into the game themselves) the books will be available for quite some time.
quick review for those who haven’t been reading my stuff for the past year:
Between the 5 of them, these companies account for about half of the US book business. [48.8% – Source: Michael Hyatt, Dec 2006] Each of the 5 also acts as their own distributor, shipping new titles direct to book stores. Since not everyone is going to know this off the top of their head
- Random House = Del Rey
- HarperCollins partnered with Tokyopop
- Simon & Schuster partnered with Viz Media
- Hachette = Yen Press
- Macmillan partnered with Seven Seas
The only major player not in the game is Penguin. see also: 5by8 #25, Squeeze Play, on publishers and licensing, and 5by8 #26, What’s the Target? on publishing and sales.
We can discuss which third tier (or major) manga publisher is going to go under or is struggling or might not meet their deadlines (or has never met their deadlines) but at $10 a pop and with this much publishing muscle behind it, manga as a category isn’t going anywhere.
Steady single-digit, year-on-year growth is a Great place to be.
Since 2008, a few things have changed:
Random House still has an excellent business relationship with Kodansha, and Vertical, and distributes DC Comics to bookstores besides. While Del Rey is merely one of the top 3 sci-fi/fantasy/spec. fic. imprints with a much reduced comics line-up: Del Rey is One Of the Top 3 Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Spec. Fic. imprints, and Kodansha in direct control of those US manga licences hasn’t been a bad thing either.
HarperCollins, if someone at corporate had been paying attention, could have launched a whole YA Graphic Novels imprint into the hole Tokyopop left, using the Warriors GNs as a base and other nee-HC-Tokyopop titles as a built-in backlist. Huge Missed Opportunity, guys.
I think the Scholastic Graphix imprint is another big deal in this space – yes, obviously manga is a bigger market than just YA/Teen — but just like pop/rock music: tweens and teens are the manga market leaders and the biggest growth opportunity.
I also want to encourage Seven Seas. Damn. You guys are tenacious – whatever keeps things running over there: please keep doing it. I don’t buy all your books but I love that you’re still in business.