Manga Review Copy Cutbacks

Got a note today from a manga publisher that I won’t name saying that due to company cutbacks, they would no longer be able to send review copies. That notice is unusual but appreciated. I know times are tight, and I sympathize. I would rather know what’s going on (instead of wondering if someone immaturely took offense at something I said, for example).

However, the part I found especially strange was the suggestion that if I was willing to pay for the shipping costs and mailing supplies, they might be willing to continue sending the books. I don’t think so. For one thing, I’m willing to buy favorite titles for myself, and that list doesn’t include many of this company’s titles (although I am willing to try them when given the option in the hopes of changing my opinion).

If $3 per reviewer is going to make a difference, then this all may be a moot point, anyway, because it suggests a company in trouble. They unprofessionally cc’ed everyone on the email, so I can see exactly who was on their review list. There were 15 names, so we’re talking, what, a $50 expense per book in shipping costs? And how exactly does one set up a system to bill reviewers? Would that mean I got to order the titles I was interested in at this reduced rate, or would it be an all-or-nothing deal?

In the bigger picture, any company that wants coverage (especially if they don’t have a big anime tie-in property) needs to get their books into the hands of reviewers. There are a lot of other options out there, and without reviews, people tend to stick to a few known favorites.

Marketing is usually an expense companies choose to cut early. That’s not a very smart long-term strategy, though, because out of sight often means out of mind. Given that bookstores are feeling overwhelmed and limiting what they stock, it’s more important than ever to drive readers to seek out different titles, which can happen with good reviews. In this company’s case, I haven’t seen any of their books on shelves of stores around here, so if they don’t send them, I’m likely to forget about them. I wonder how many other people will do the same.

Last year, another company tried a cutback, only they were much more gentle about it. They sent out a notice that said that instead of sending every title every month, they’d move to a request system, so you’d only get the books you were interested in covering. That seemed fair — only they didn’t stick with it. Within a couple of months, they were back to sending everything. I wonder if the tracking and special mailing was more trouble than it was worth.

9 Comments

  1. [...] At some point you may decide to go pro and then you’ll find yourself considering getting an agent. I’m sure you’d like to see Gaiman’s advice… Actually, he defers to the advice of someone he knows will know, but now you know. That’s all about writing agents but I’m sure the advice will still be useful. I’m sure you’d also like to know about graphic novel agents for artists, just to round out your knowledge. (This is part four, so be sure to look over the first three parts too.) I also found a fan who would like to get digital comics from a digital store, not just from Marvel or DC. (That would be cool, wouldn’t it? A website set up like an actual comic shop where you could browse the first few pages of comics from various publishers.) The Beat analyzed this a little further, but the same fan created a breakdown about the dollar enjoyment value one gets out of comics. One last thing about business; even reviewers are feeling the economic crunch. [...]

  2. [...] In what may be an ominous sign, Johanna Draper Carlson reports that one publisher is cutting back on review copies. [...]

  3. […] At some point you may decide to go pro and then you’ll find yourself considering getting an agent. I’m sure you’d like to see Gaiman’s advice… Actually, he defers to the advice of someone he knows will know, but now you know. That’s all about writing agents but I’m sure the advice will still be useful. I’m sure you’d also like to know about graphic novel agents for artists, just to round out your knowledge. (This is part four, so be sure to look over the first three parts too.) I also found a fan who would like to get digital comics from a digital store, not just from Marvel or DC. (That would be cool, wouldn’t it? A website set up like an actual comic shop where you could browse the first few pages of comics from various publishers.) The Beat analyzed this a little further, but the same fan created a breakdown about the dollar enjoyment value one gets out of comics. One last thing about business; even reviewers are feeling the economic crunch. […]

  4. Hmmm – shortsighted at best: I’m sure I’m not alone in using your leads for my own buying for a book chain. Publishers ignore the net at their peril!

    Keep up the good stuff -

  5. That’s quite interesting to note that a company is pulling review copies from you. You’re so right how the last place to pull money from is marketing. Marketing is basically all that can be done to sell more books. Rather than being careful with regulating the number of licenses(every company has too many), they choose to cut money in the worst area possible.

    I’m gonna guess the company in question is CMX, ’cause a lot of people have discussed they can’t find their books in stores either. If I’m wrong, well I’ll find out anyways because I’ll notice what books you’re NOT reviewing in the next few months ;)

    If you couldn’t tell from this message, I’m sooooo curious to know which company is in peril. I don’t wish this on any company, but I just gots to know.

  6. I’m going to bet it’s Tokyopop. It seems to me like they barely have any staff left.

  7. Well, yeah it does sound they’ve got no staff left, what with the several announcements of layoffs, but Johanna said she was on the CC list of 15 other reviewers, which seems like a small number to me and Tpop would more likely have many more reviewers than that.

    Anyways, like what was stated earlier, without reviews, people would just buy well-known manga, and leave some well-deserving titles in the dust. Are companies willing to stand behind their titles and support them 100% these days, or are they just expecting sales to rise out of nowhere?

  8. Publishers give various reasons to not send me books. I don’t get 150,000 views a month O_O, it’s too expensive to post, they are a small company… one publisher said they would send me electronic version of the books. I thought this was a brilliant idea to save on postage costs for their marketing, then I got another email saying they couldn’t send the electronic version *sigh*.

  9. [...] that uncommunicated change in plans, this deep-discount clearance sale, and the fact that they stopped sending review copies due to cutbacks… well, obviously, there’s some financial concern [...]

Leave a Reply