I was fortunate to be invited to a recent Tokyopop webcast where editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl presented information on an upcoming work and took questions.
CSI: Intern at Your Own Risk
First, we saw a small preview of the CSI Interns book, due out in early September. Although Gil Grissom and Catherine Willows make an appearance in the introduction, it mostly focuses on a new group of younger interns. Apparently, CSI has a significant teenage audience, which should overlap with the traditional manga reader. The one-volume story is slightly larger than the usual manga format, black and white, and 192 pages. It will also contain a preview of a CSI novel from Pocket Books.
After that, there was a short statement about how this is a year of “refocusing and reorganizing” for Tokyopop. They have about half as many titles now as a year ago in order to better focus on “what we think can be successful in a slow market”. They want to regroup and regrow to be in a better position to handle what’s going on in the economy.
In terms of causes for this change in strategy, returns had a big impact on them, because “the book market works on consignment”. Most of their audience shops at Barnes & Noble and Borders, and spring 2008 brought “massive waves of returns”. Now, they’re working on controlling inventory and being much more careful about what is printed.
The Kindaichi Mystery
Then came questions. I asked when we’d see another Kindaichi volume, which got the answer “It’s a mystery!”
Seriously, Lillian said there a lot of licensing issues with Kodansha right now (and they’re not the only company facing them). Plus, “not enough non-bloggers are exited about it”. They want to support the series, but it’s a “tough go”.
Other Questions: Format, Manhwa
It was asked whether Tokyopop was planning more longer-format titles (like the double-sized Tsubasa). The answer was possibly, because more content is a good value for customers, but the licensers are not always excited about them. They were able to do the thicker Tsubasa volumes because that series had been re-released as bindups in Japan, so that’s what they licensed.
Someone else asked whether Tokyopop had dropped their manhwa line. The answer was that many of them probably won’t be seen again, but there are some exceptions: Rebirth, King of Hell, and (most exciting to me) INVU volume 5, which is due in November.
I appreciated the opportunity to speak directly with the company’s representative and openly ask questions. I hope there are more such chances in future.