Wishful Thinking

August 28, 2008

When I was in High School, I wanted to learn Japanese.  My Dad thought I was crazy, since he didn’t see any future in knowing the language.  Unfortunately for me, my High School and Junior College didn’t offer it as a course.  Only the four year college did, and by the time I got there, I was already set in my major and didn’t have time to fit it in.  I still feel some twinges of regret not being able to learn the language.  I could have been one of the “old hats” in the anime and manga industry today.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t still think joining it.

I may not be able to read or speak Japanese beyond a few worlds I pick up from watching subs, and listening to Japanese 101 podcasts, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a niche in the manga industry.  We keep hearing about how book stores and comic shops don’t know what to do with manga.  They don’t know how to shelve or market it.  Well, I’ve come up with a position that I think I could fill that would solve this problem.  There are marketing consultants, management consultants, and even ninja consultants, but what I want to be is a Manga Consultant!

That’s right.  I want to teach people how to deal with manga and get it sold.  I don’t have a business degree, and I’ve never studied marketing, but I get manga.  And the problem a lot of book and comic books stores and libraries are facing is that they don’t get it.  Manga doesn’t fit simply into the categories most people would like them to.  It’s more than comics, it’s not just for kids, is read differently from US books, and can be in every single different kind of genre.  This has been especially acute with the Light Novels, or J-Pulp, that have been coming out as John Thomas points out.

Kurt Hassler gets it, which is why manga was so successful at Borders under his buyership.  And now at Yen Press, he is working to do it again with their titles.  Not just by getting good titles, but by making sure the bookstores know what to do with them.  With the Light, the manga about raising an autistic child was specified for the child development section, where parents would look for such a title, and not the manga section.  Because Kurt is a fan as well as knowing how bookstores work, he can get the books where they need to be in order to sell.  I’m sure the bookstores appreciate this as well, since it becomes one less thing for them to worry about when shelving.

And that’s what I want to do.  I want to be able to help retailers get their manga sold.  Consult on what titles to shelve, and how to market it to the proper audiences.  Help them come up with promotions to advertise titles.  I’d like to work with publishers too, and get them out of the box of normal marketing strategies.  Manga needs to stop being segregated, and get some equality on bookstore shelves!  And on the web!  Digital manga on the right platform could sell more than paper!  And I want to help libraries and librarians be more knowledgeable about manga so they can education parents before they make a knee-jerk reaction.

What I want most of all though, is to see manga grow.  Not just in volumes published each year, but in people reading and appreciating it.  I don’t want to see it stay a niche product, marketed to kids and collectors, like anime.  Manga has the advantage over anime that it can go mainstream.  It does in Japan.  I want to see that happen here too.  We have seen if treated right and given the proper conditions, manga can flourish.  I want to help that happen.

I know, this is all just wishful thinking.  But I can still dream.  I wonder what it takes to become a librarian…

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2 Comments for this entry

  • Can i share that dream as well please :)

    To be honest though, you can have te dream just by going to your local stores. I did that with my local Waterstones, and the manager there was really receptive. He asked me to come up with titles i thought would sell, how they should be promoted, and where they should be placed.

    As a result they picked up almost all the titles i reccomended, increased floor space and promotions.

    Most stores i think would be open to hearing what you have to say, and if you put your case accross properly and carefully, will probably act on it.

    Granted i don’t get paid, but there are other perks to it. One of them being i don’t have to pay for my orders until i pick them up (something waterstones stopped doing a few years ago), which means i get to order a shed load of stuff and only pay for them as i pick them up.

  • Actually, my Barnes and Noble has gotten better. I think they got someone on staff that has a clue about manga finally!

    It’s my local public library that needs help. they don’t have any manga or graphic novels in their kids section, which is absolutely tiny!

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