Tokyopop Sells Print on Demand Books

Tokyopop now has available at their online store a number of print-on-demand volumes, following up on their plans from August 2009. They’re priced at $15.99, a significant increase over the typical $10 or $11 price point, but the company has been experimenting with cover prices for a while now. The rule seems to be, the more specialized the audience, the higher price they’re expected to pay. (Previously, yaoi was the most expensive Tokyopop release.)

I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of titles at Tokyopop’s site (but then, I can rarely find much of anything at their website), but if you use Google to search for print on demand at their shop, you can find a bunch of them. They include works like Gorgeous Carat Books 1-4, a yaoi series previously available in standard format but now out of print.

I also noted that they’re using the process to fill gaps. Kat and Mouse, for example, a short-volume series published at $5.99, is still available conventionally — if you’re buying books 1, 2, or 4. Book 3, on the other hand, is only print-on-demand at $9.99. So it appears that economically, if you want a book at a discount, buy it when it’s offered, because afterwards, you’re going to pay a premium to have a book generated just for you.

I found out about this through the news that Gyakushu! Book 3 was in print this way. That was one of Tokyopop’s OEL manga series that never finished in print. I started hoping to see some of the other uncompleted series, like Steady Beat, but then I realized that those books would have to be written and drawn first. I think there’s some number of completed OEL work that was never printed — and I suspect this list of what Tokyopop previously serialized online is a good hint — but I doubt the publisher is going to commission anything new for this program.


  1. […] free reads have been removed, in favor of selling the books online, including the third volume as print-on-demand. […]

  2. Well, it does cost more to print a single volume than to mass print them (per volume). Though that does seem like quite the mark-up.

  3. There are a couple of those “unfinished” OEL series that have their last volume completed by the artist but unpublished. Rivkah (Steady Beat), Jen Lee Quick (Off*Beat) and Amy Reeder Hadley (Fool’s Gold) have each mentioned on their blogs that they’ve finished the third volume to their series. Rivkah has been trying to acquire publishing rights to self-publish, but as far as I can tell a lot of the artists (and fans) are just waiting on Tokyopop to do something.

    Although, why TP wouldn’t publish the last volume of Fool’s Gold seems really strange as Hadley is a really hot artist right now.

  4. I would buy all three of those you mention. I hope we hear more about them.

  5. I’m all down for the print-on-demand concept because that way, fans would have a better chance of getting a licensed title complete to the end rather than have it cut off mid-way due to lower than expected sales.

    I know TokyoPop’s site is still in Beta, but really, they should have everything properly categorized for ease of purchase. Common sense anyone? *_*

  6. haruna-sensei

    But….what kind of paper quality will they be using?

  7. 16$ is a ridiculous mark up since they dont need to give discounts to book stores nor pay up front the mass printing fee (or pay for storage).

    printing a 200page BW book with color covers cost at most 4$
    so why pay 4x as much?

  8. I suspect the expected number of purchasers is much less for the POD books, so the price has to be more to cover the other costs associated with the series, like license fees, editorial staff, etc.

  9. I’m glad they’re doing this. It’s a good way to get their old OEL manga out there in some form — not the ideal form, since I don’t know how many titles will even sell triple digits in POD, but better than keeping it sitting indefinitely in some dusty digital vault.

    OEL manga will rise again!!

  10. I’m the artist on Undertown, a series where the second volume was never released by tokyopop, but that I had finished years and years ago. I thought Tokyopop would just never bother publishing it, but it finally came out with this print on Demand service! Unfortunatly they’re not bothering to mention it even through twitter or anything- and this was a comic that was published in newspapers, 2 print runs (one TP one Scholastic Books). It feels like a wasted halfhearted effort in my opinion.

  11. I was surprised that there was no press release and no specific listing of books. I also wonder how this affects contracts, since that was a concern with the idea of print-on-demand prose books. If Tokyopop has licenses that specify that they need to keep the series in print, for hypothetical example, then this might be a way to satisfy that without the expense of a print run.

  12. Just to jump in here for clarity’s sake, there will actually be a major announcement of this program when we’re ready to officially announce it. It’s probably not super obvious from the general site design, but there’s been a huge back-end switch in the mechanics of how the store works, including the functionality that lets us do print on demand, and it’s frankly still in the testing process. I’m really pleased that people are going ahead and trying to order things, but we intentionally didn’t want to start crowing about it until we got a few more bugs worked out. I’d expect that to happen in the next few weeks, though, so thanks for your patience. :-)

    And the pricing is still a major concern as well, so keep your eyes peeled for more developments there. There are a lot more costs that go into producing a manga than simply shipping and storage, but another advantage to the new back-end system is that it gives us a lot more flexibility with adjusting retail price, so that’s definitely something we’re taking into consideration.

  13. Thank you for updating us, Lillian. I look forward to hearing the official announcement and seeing what else has to offer.

  14. […] yes that they are actually going ahead with it. Johanna Draper Carlson of Manga Worth Reading has some details from what she found by exploring the site. It appears that POD manga will be more expensive than […]

  15. This is great news! I for one have been DYING to see the conclusion of “Off*Beat” for a LONG time. I will definitely buy vol. 3 if that gets put up for sale!

  16. Cool news for those who want to check out some of TokyoPop’s older stuff but have a hard time finding it.

    and I am sure alot of people who had OEL will be happy see their stuff back in print.

    and greater news if by reading between the lines of LillianDP
    says the price will be lower the reported.

  17. […] noticed in early November that Tokyopop was selling print-on-demand volumes, at which point an editor from that company said “there will actually be a major announcement […]

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