Viz Publishes One Piece 5 Times a Month in 2010

Beginning in January 2010, Viz plans to catch up on publishing One Piece manga volumes (to bring the US series closer to the Japanese run) by publishing five of the books a month for six months. In January, that will be volumes 24-28.

One Piece 21 cover
One Piece Book 21
The current volume

Suddenly, manga is competing directly with the weekly American comic habit, only the books are bigger and $10 a pop. A new dedicated website, OnePiece.viz.com, will provide character and plot summaries and free sample chapters.

“This will be our most ambitious accelerated manga publishing schedule for any property thus far, and we are confident it will be a huge success, as ONE PIECE is an exciting series that enjoys a large and very dedicated following in North America,” says Gonzalo Ferreyra, Vice President Sales & Marketing for VIZ Media. “Pirate stories are known and loved the world over and ONE PIECE, with its zany cast of characters and high seas action, enjoys more than 177 million copies in-print in Japan alone. We look forward to new and old fans alike exploring these fun adventures as each month Luffy and his cohorts search for the elusive One Piece treasure.”

Assuming that this series will be released at the new price point of $9.99, that’s $50 a month to follow a goofy comedy series. Viz says there’s a large audience for this, but I’ve never heard anyone talking about it. Maybe it’s successful among boys or some other group I have no contact with. And hopefully the economy will have recovered enough by then to make this kind of purchase seem more reasonable.

Manga Xanadu succinctly sums up fan reaction so far with the headline “Are They Nuts?” The point is also made that if fans do buy the accelerated releases, it will take money away from other manga series. Viz can likely weather a decline in their other series, but can other publishers?

On the other hand, maybe this creates an opening for vendors to create discount packages: the month’s five books for $40, perhaps (which would bring the cost to the reader back to the original Shonen Jump price point of $8 a book) in return for preordering the set. Every change creates opportunity.

13 Comments

  1. It’s not just “a goofy comedy series”. And I think to describe it as such would be to do it a disservice. There’s a reason it’s been so successful in Japan.

    Anyway I don’t think there’s that much of an audience for it in the west. It just hasn’t taken off in the same way that Naruto has. Probably why it’s not talked about as much. I think this move is to try and give it that push into the same sort of popularity as it has in Japan.

    That said, I actually like the sound of this idea. But then again 1) I don’t buy much manga and 2) I’m already much further along in the series than the current volume that’s out in the west. So it means I can keep relatively up to date with the latest volume releases in Japan and still support the series in the west.

  2. I never got the appeal of One Piece, but I only ever read book one. I’d love to hear more about what fans find enjoyable about it.

    Does releasing a lot of material help a series find its audience, or does it turn off potential readers? I think that’s the key question here.

  3. It does seem like an awful lot of product, but if people stop treating these things as if they were periodicals I could imagine it working out. That is, just because they release five in a month doesn’t mean you have to buy all five. On the other hand, I can’t see bookstores carrying 60 volumes at once. So either some of the volumes will be special-orders, or you’ll have to get them from Amazon…

  4. Except that as more manga titles have come out, they’re being treated more like periodicals, not less. And I can’t blame retailers, because if they don’t go to reduced stocking strategies (like keeping only the first couple and the couple most recent on the shelf), they’ll quickly run out of space. I’m not sure how much market there is for middle volumes of many completed or long-running series anyway.

  5. When I say people I mean the consumers, not the retailers. I think retailers are hosed anyway: once Amazon exists, what do bookstores provide? A place for impulse purchases, and for those things that you have to hold in your hand and flip through before you decide if you want it?

    I love bookstores, I find it difficult to pass a bookstore without poking my nose in…but half the time I end up buying from Amazon anyway because even if the bookstore is well-stocked they only have the latest in everything except a handful of perennials. If I find an author that looks interesting, particularly with mysteries and SF, it will almost always turn out that the store has the latest volume and maybe one before, but not the debut.

    I don’t know if dumping so much One Piece on the market at once is smart, but I’m pretty sure that even if they spaced it out one a month, to get any of the middle volumes you were going to have to shop online anyway.

  6. Oh, yes, we have similar experiences. Even when I want to buy from my local bookstore, they refuse to order things in for me, instead sending me to their retail site. (This is Borders, by the way.) That’s dumb, because if I go online, I’m going to order elsewhere, either to get a better discount, or from someplace I already have an account.

  7. My bookstore makes an effort to keep an entire run of a series on the shelf, which pays off because we have more and more customers coming in who only buy things if they can get all of the volumes. For space we compromise on the numbers ordered – we may not stock more than one or two of each volume.

    I don’t think we’re typical, though. We just have a few really vocal manga fans on staff that keep an eye on things.

  8. Wow, your store sounds like the kind of place I’d like to shop. And you make a good point about display affecting customer purchases.

  9. “I’d love to hear more about what fans find enjoyable about it.”

    I think the key is how completely unabashed the series is, whether it’s doing OTT adventure with a light touch, or showing its sentimental streak.

  10. TBH, I’d be much more excited about a VIZBig release of One Piece–there’s just SO MUCH of it, and the dense art would benefit from a larger cut size. But maybe (as long as Viz doesn’t expect Naruto-like results) the flood will be positive. If nothing else, I’m glad this series is getting more attention from Viz & Funimation.

    And Johanna, please continue with One Piece! I remember volume one being unremarkable, too. But after that, it becomes this epic adventure, on par with the best adventure books I read as a child. It’s hard to pinpoint things I like about it because I like all of it. It’s got brilliant characters, imaginative settings & situations, and goofy shonen humor mixed with genuine pathos. It’s original & fresh, yet entirely true to shonen conventions. It’s absolutely worth another shot.

  11. Thanks for the push, Renee. I guess I’m a little leery about such a long series, especially having to catch up. Hmmm, maybe my library has it.

  12. One Piece is EPIC, like any series the first few chapters are a bit slow, but if you keep reading it you’ll start to enjoy it, I took a chance with it and i’m absolutely addicted, the new price increase it gonna hit me hard though, so i think i’ll stop buying individual volumes and wait until a box set comes out

  13. Devon...A.K.A...One Piece lover!

    Yes One Piece is the best manga i have EVER read!! after vol.4…….i was going crazy!!! I then spent every cent i had on One Piece…..and when i heard about the speed up,………..@ first i remembered me smiling,…then i remembered me screaming,……then i went crazy and didnt remember too much after that………LoL. But im saving up my money to buy One Piece now!! So far i have vols.24-33 pre-ordered…..Im doing what ever i can to buy my FAV Manga Series!!

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