Manga Pricing by Sex
I had seen MangaBlog calling Viz sexist for pricing Shojo Beat (girls’) titles at $9 while Shonen Jump (boys’) titles were $8. I didn’t pay much attention because
1. I’m used to it. Women’s haircuts are more expensive than men’s regardless of amount of hair. Women’s shirts, even when visually the same as men’s, cost more to dry clean. Women are charged more when variable pricing applies in certain industries, like cars. Etc.
2. it seems like something of a jump to assume sexism when I don’t have enough information on actual facts. Maybe the sales figures are higher on the boys’ books, I dunno. It’s plausible, though, since girls have been taught from a young age that if they want certain kinds of entertainment, they’ll have to watch things not aimed at them. In other words, I think girls are more likely to read “boys” books than vice versa. The $8 books are also some of the most popular with some of the best media support.
3. I’m grateful that we’ve got those books at all. I haven’t really noticed a sharp division between the Shojo Beat books and other girl-oriented Viz titles I read (is that the “regular” shojo line?), so giving me a dollar off some of them just seems like a bonus. (Assuming I paid cover, which I never do, because I preorder to get discounts and trade for books and use other smart shopper methods.)
Then Christopher Butcher tackled the subject (link no longer available). He makes two good points, one of which is a variant of my #1 above, the other of which suggests that “discount” pricing may not continue. If fans don’t really notice prices, within a certain range, and if people assume that books in the manga format are usually $10 (or even higher, as with Del Rey’s $11, although that’s kept me from trying more of their books), then Viz is missing out on $1-2 of profit per book in these lines. As usual, his comments are comprehensive and educational.