Kodansha USA did an Ask Me Anything on reddit last week. Although I was unable to participate, there were some interesting questions asked, and a little data here and there that are worth exploring.
1. We finally learned what happened with the Vinland Saga V1/Amazon SNAFU. The short answer is that Amazon was shorted books, and because of this, pushed back the release date 2 weeks (this was over a month ago). Kodansha states they don’t know why preorders were cancelled.
I was one of many loud and grumpy voices involved in the general social media questioning of Kodansha when the Vinland Saga issue first came to light. I was one of the first to preorder the book, and I still don’t have a copy. Amazon cancelling my preorder was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m no longer interested in getting Vinland Saga as it is released. I cancelled my preorder of volume 2. I’m sure it’s a fine book. But I also know that I’m not interested in getting boogered on another deal like this. I’ve been preordering manga from various publishers for 3 years now, and I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this. Amazon isn’t the only party at fault here.
Who do I have to talk to? What tree do I have to bark up? Is it Amazon, is it Kodansha? I’m more than willing to complain, Obviously.
— Alexander Hoffman (@mangawidget) October 29, 2013
Of note: Amazon still doesn’t have a listing for a physical copy of volume 1.
2. Manga is on the upswing – and some publishers are doing leaps and bounds better. Dallas Middaugh delivered some interesting news via Bookscan – most manga publishers are doing better now than previous years. This is not really a surprise, since the ’07 manga crash and Borders’ closing did a lot of damage to the market. Of note, Seven Seas Entertainment is selling approximately 100% more books than last year.
This uptick in sales is likely associated with two factors – a more active social media prevalence, and an uptick in licensing. The first set of licenses really started hitting shelves in late 2011, with Gunslinger Girl and A Certain Scientific Railgun, both of which were pretty popular with a certain piece of the anime fandom. They’ve picked up titles like the Alice in the Country of… series, as well as recent additions Monster Musume and A Centaur’s Life.
Seven Seas has found a niche in the market – their catalog has a large amount of moe, harem, and otaku-centric titles. The moral here, if there is one, is sell what people want to buy, feathers, scales, and all. And talk about it a lot.
3. Some fans still don’t realize that Attack on Titan is published in English. Which is unfortunate, but ultimately, a sign of the way that things work in the fandom. When cool projects like PBS Idea Channel use pirated content on their YouTube show, you know there is a problem. Many people still don’t realize that manga aggregator sites are hosting pirated content.
4. Crunchyroll and its dealings with Kodansha Comics Japan were not monitored or connected to Kodansha USA. It seems odd, but Kodansha USA benefits by selling collected editions of manga currently available (but not in full) at Crunchyroll. In addition, CR gives weekly readers of UQ Holder, Fairy Tail, and Attack on Titan a chance to go to a legitimate website instead of an aggregator. The more you legitimize the content, the more likely people will pay something for it, right?