Reaction to Tokyopop Online Exclusives

I was going to post a pointer to the ICV2 interview with Tokyopop about why they’re now selling certain series online only, but I left to get dinner and the blogverse sprung into action without me!

Christopher Butcher (link no longer available) tosses off a quick burst of anger over Dragon Head being pulled from retail stores, promising more commentary to come.

Dave Lartigue expresses his displeasure to Tokyopop, pointing out

Moving to web-exclusive removes this convenience [of purchasing through his local store], asking me to place an additional order somewhere and pay shipping. As much as I like the book, and I like it very much, at the end of the day it’s just a funnybook, and now that you’ve made it more of a hassle to order it, I won’t do so. I can live without it.

In addition, this now makes me wary of buying any of Tokyopop’s titles. What if I start to enjoy something else and then find that it too will be made more difficult for me to get hold of? Rather than go through the annoyance of such a thing, it’s easier to simply avoid your titles altogether.

For John Jakala, it’s about the money — Tokyopop isn’t discounting and doesn’t offer free shipping, unlike other online sources. He also suggests action to take.

Someone at translationdojo who seems to know what they’re talking about goes into detail about the possible economic rationale behind the decision and is noticeably optimistic about the whole thing.

6 Comments

  1. [...] Original post by Comics Worth Reading. To read the full article visit: Comics Worth Reading [...]

  2. [...] Brigid Alverson of MangaBlog continues the pricing theme, and wonders whether cutting the cover price by just $1 might make a difference to consumers: “If they really wanted to gamble, they could offer volume 1’s at a really low price, say $5, to get people to give them a try, and then raise the price for subsequent volumes. Maybe $6 for volume 2, $7 for volume 3, and so on. What we’ve seen with strong series like Fruits Basket and Naruto is that the later volumes sell better, so if you have a good series, that strategy could work. But are the online exclusives strong series? If they are, why aren’t they in stores? And if they aren’t, why should I pay the full ten bucks?” Also commenting: Dave Lartigue, who emails his displeasure to Tokyopop; David Welsh, who’s unhappy about Dragon Head; and Johanna Draper Carlson, who provides a reaction roundup. [...]

  3. Ed Sizemore

    Johanna, Another factor to consider in Tokyopop’s decision is that book stores, unlike comic stores, get to return unsold books for either credit on their next order or cash back. So if B&N orders 100,000 copies of a manga and only sells 25,000, Tokyopop is the one stuck with an inventory of 75,000 books and the bill for printing 100,000 copies. If a manga is selling so poorly that Tokyopop can’t justify a large print, then the only options are cancel the book or find another means of distribution. Personally I think Tokyopop should be given some credit for trying to keep a book in print long enough to finish the series. Not all publishers are as consciousness of their fanbase. I’ll give you two examples from Viz. “Even a Monkey Can Drawn Manga” was a two volume series. The first volume sold so poorly that Viz never printed the second volume. So now I have to learn Japanese if I want to finish the series. Another series that Viz never completed was Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi. Viz only ran 9 of the 34 volumes in that series. So it might be a slight inconvenience to have to order the books from the publisher on line, but I think that’s better than not getting the books at all or having to learn Japanese.

    PS. Translationdojo is run by William Flanagan who is currently a freelance translator working primarily for Del Rey. (He is currently translating “xxxHolic”, so you know I’ve got mad love for him.) He was the Director of the Editorial Department of Viz for two years before returning to being freelance. I really enjoy his insight into the mechanics of translation and the machinery of publishing.

  4. I see your point, Ed, about “at least they’re not bailing on the series”, but when does a product become so much trouble to buy that it’s not worth it? I like that I can get manga through so many venues (bookstores, comic shops, trades), and I don’t appreciate having my options restricted.

    Then again, unlike many of the upset commentators, I’m not following Dragon Head, so it’s not a personal inconvenience. (I found it interesting that that was the only one people seemed to care about.)

    Thanks for the information! I recognize Flanagan’s name; I should be sure to check that blog more often.

  5. [...] Following up on yesterday’s reactions to Tokyopop’s online exclusives, here are two more and some further thoughts of mine. [...]

  6. [...] So it’s another example of trying to cut out the middlemen of retailers and distributors. Last time they tried this, three years ago, reaction was not favorable, with retailers vowing to cut orders. However, since [...]

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