Tokyopop Enters Digital Comics With OEL Manga

Late yesterday, Tokyopop sent out an announcement that they had made “more than fifty volumes of manga available immediately for digital download” through Zinio. Most of the books are from Tokyopop’s OEL arm, works created in English, not translated from Japan; Tokyopop likely doesn’t have the rights to upload any licensed properties, only those they own. Titles announced include Bizenghast, Dramacon, and Princess Ai, the book written by Tokyopop’s CEO Stuart Levy.

Don’t look to buy any of those specific titles right now, though. Only 21 books are currently available at the site; presumably, the missing 30 will be coming soon. They’re priced at $5.99 US each, which seems high. The publisher refers to it as a “discount” from the print price, but that’s not how many users think of online pricing, especially since we’re talking about books that have mostly reached the end of their print lifecycle, with only Bizenghast having new installments scheduled to come out. Publications are kept in a proprietary .zno format and can be read from the website or downloaded to a Windows or Mac computer.

Although described as “the world’s top digital publishing distribution service”, Zinio is a name unfamiliar to many of those following the online comics industry. They don’t appear to have any other comics available. Based on the wording of their FAQ, they come from the magazine world, providing a way to make periodicals available online. I found it unusual that this announcement didn’t mention the big area of digital comic growth — portable devices, phones, handhelds, and the iPad– even though Zinio does have iPad and iPhone apps available.

The world doesn’t need yet another online comic reading format — what about the person who wants their publications easily available in their reader of choice, instead of constantly having to install proprietary programs based on publisher? It’s back to “piracy” for them, I guess. Less hassle, more selection, and infinitely cheaper.

4 Responses to “Tokyopop Enters Digital Comics With OEL Manga”

  1. Tokyopop Releases Hetalia Digitally a Month Before Print » Manga Worth Reading Says:

    […] Axis Powers series will be available in print on September 21, you can buy it digitally through digital download partner Zinio right now. For its 148 pages, the digital price is $5.99 US; in print, it’s $12.99. That […]

  2. AmberMykelti Says:

    Okay I was just wondering.. How does one become an OEL writer? Like, how is it published, and does it matter where you live? These are just some questions, cause I have been watching anime my entire life and I always thought that it was unfair that only Japanese could write manga but after I found out about OELs I have been very interested and wondering about it.

  3. Johanna Says:

    It used to be that you teamed up with an artist and entered one of Tokyopop’s Rising Stars contests. Now, with that publisher out of business, there is no easy avenue. The category of OEL manga has pretty much disappeared, now, since it was really just marketing speak for graphic novels made by manga-influenced creators.

    In short, you become a comic writer by writing comics. You’ll have to find and hire artists to work with and then submit your work to publishers or release it yourself.

  4. AmberMykelti Says:

    Well thanks then. I figured it would be difficult, OELs would be more of a side job than an actual profession. Thanks for the update




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