HarperCollins/Tokyopop Deal

HarperCollins put out a press release today announcing that they would be handling Tokyopop’s bookstore sales and distribution as well as co-publishing adaptations of best-selling young adult novels.

HarperCollins Publishers and TOKYOPOP today announced the companies will join forces in a unique co-publishing agreement to create a progressive new line of co-branded manga titles. The program will include several projects from bestselling author Meg Cabot, whose HarperCollins novels have sold more than six million copies to date. In addition, HarperCollins will sell and distribute the entire TOKYOPOP line in North America.

Manga, the Japanese word for comics and print cartoons, refers specifically to the avant-garde art form that originated in Japanese comic books. The new line of books from TOKYOPOP and HarperCollins will include manga titles based on existing HarperCollins works, as well as original manga titles conceived by HarperCollins authors. All books will be developed in manga format by the award-winning TOKYOPOP team, who will manage the creation of manga text and artwork in close consultation with the originating authors and HarperCollins editors. The first books are scheduled for publication in 2007, and HarperCollins and TOKYOPOP are anticipating growing the line to as many as 24 titles per year.

The first manga titles produced by the partnership will be based on Meg Cabot’s bestselling young adult novels. TOKYOPOP writers and artists, working closely with Cabot and her HarperCollins editor, will convert her multimillion copy selling books into manga format. The Meg Cabot manga titles will be published along with other manga titles based on key middle grade and young adult franchises from the HarperCollins list.

“This collaboration is indicative of our commitment to grow our authors in new and exiting ways, as well as to offer our consumers a wider range of formats in which to enjoy their favorite books and authors. This is really what Publishing+ is all about,” said Jane Friedman, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. “We have been eager to enter the manga marketplace, and can think of no more powerful way than to join forces with TOKYOPOP, a company we have long admired as the leading manga publisher in North America.”

“TOKYOPOP is proud to begin this exciting new partnership with HarperCollins, the most innovative and diverse mainstream publisher in America,” added Stu Levy, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of TOKYOPOP. “Together our companies will be able to expand the manga lifestyle into mainstream youth culture, building a new paradigm in entertainment, where East meets West and a new generation of multi-ethnic creators can flourish.”

As of mid-June, HarperCollins will begin selling and distributing all TOKYOPOP books to the North American trade book market. All back office functions including customer service, warehousing, billing and credit will be performed by HarperCollins.

“HarperCollins continues to invest in new people and technology to offer world-class client services,” said Glenn D’Agnes, COO, HarperCollins Publishers. “We will increase TOKYOPOP’s reach in the marketplace to capitalize on the high-growth manga sector, while simultaneously increasing its service levels to its customer base.”

This is full of smoke-filled buzzwords, typical of promotional releases. I love the use of words like “conceived by HC authors” and “manage the creation of manga text and artwork” and “convert her books into manga format” (as though some kind of industrial process was involved). The reading between the lines has already started.

Noted Tokyopop critic Lea Hernandez sees a doomed TP trying to survive. It’ll be interesting to see what Tokyopop’s section of the next Previews catalog (April for June titles) will look like.



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