Manga On Demand

June 26, 2009

With the manga market getting tighter, we as readers will start to see some of our favorite titles get longer times between volume releases, if at all.  Slow seller are always the first to go.  Despite the cries of protest from it’s small but loyal fan base, companies need to stay in the black, or else we’ll have no manga to buy at all.

But, we’re not helpless in this situation.  Fans can show companies what titles they want to keep coming out.  The easiest way is of course through pre-orders.  Whether it’s through Amazon, Rightstuf or Diamond Distributor’s Previews, ordering a title ahead of time gives publishers a good idea on the demand they can expect for a title.  The lives of titles can be saved or extended through pre-orders better than all the ranting and raving on blogs and forums.  We as fans have to put our money where our mouths are.

DMP has launched a program for it’s June line of manga that allows fans to pre-order a title, and if they get enough pre-orders, they will print the book earlier than scheduled.  It’s a print on demand model that could get titles published quicker, or let slow selling titles actually see the light of day.  But it’s going to depend on fans willing to take the risk for the titles they love.

While I’m not interested in the titles DMP is doing this for, I would be willing to show support for my favorite titles that aren’t so healthy.  It’s funny how time can change one’s opinion.  Back in 2007, when things were good, Tokyopop proposed to do something similar for their slower selling titles.  They weren’t doing pre-orders, but wanted to make some titles orderable only through their website.  It drew quite a negative reaction from retailers and fans (including me).  Now, two years later, one of the titles meant for this program, Dragon Voice may never see it’s final volume.  I don’t know if Tokyopop’s program would have helped save them, but with their current situation, going with a print on demand or pre-order model like DMP’s just might keep them in the game.  Titles like Kindaichi, Genju no Seiza and Suppli may have small, but loyal fan bases that would take a chance to see their runs completed.

It has been brought up that doing this leaves the retailers out of the loop, but I don’t see that as a problem.  The books we are talking about here are titles that retailers would be reluctant to stock, and if they did, would probably end up returning to the publisher anyway.  In this economy, retailers are only going to be shelving titles with good track records.

This pre-order/print on demand model is a way for us fans to vote for our favorite series in a way publishers will understand, with our pocket books.  We do a lot of talking and complaining about titles being dropped or never finishing.  This could become a way for fans and publishers to work together to get these titles out.  All we have to do is show how serious we are.  I’m willing to take some risk, how about you?

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5 Comments for this entry

  • Lissa says:

    Pre-order, pre-pay, whatever plan Tokyopop could put in place to see that new volumes of Genju no Seiza arrive in my hand, I would happily take the opportunity! Fingers crossed?

  • That’s a good idea, one that I’ve thought would work even better is combining your pre-order idea and something similar to the VIZBIG model and for short, already completed series, just release the entire thing at one time. One big worry is always that a series will never be entirely released, this way we know that it’s already done and on bookstore shelves. The company makes enough money up-front (hopefully with a healthy discount given for pre-ordering the set) to print everything and everyone is happy.

    But no, they’ll never think of that, they’re too tied in to the current business model.

  • Brand says:

    Considering Kindaichi, Genju no Seiza and Suppli were all titles I was collecting I would totally would go for a print on demand for these titles. I was pre-ordering though previews when I worked at my local comic book shop. I would love to be able to finish Kindaichi which only had a few more volumes to go.

  • Great points, Lori! I’m going to go share this with the Twitterverse.

  • Vampt Vo says:

    Wow, that’s a fantastic idea! I’d definitely start doing pre-orders if they would help my favorite series survive. I see way too much whining about anime and manga distribution from people online, without enough folks actually paying any money to support the stuff that they presumably love so much.

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