The creation of Kodansha USA signified a change in Kodansha Ltd.’s business model. Traditionally, Kodansha used intermediaries such as TokyoPop and Del Rey Manga to distribute its titles overseas. Creating Kodansha USA however, eliminated the need for middle men. Today, Kodansha Ltd have the licenses to deal in US markets— independently. However, this independence comes at a price. Kodansha USA is now responsible for reassuring retailers and consumers that it can compete with its predecessor Del Rey Manga. Moreover, the subsidiary’s sales have to rival US manga domineer, Viz Media, LLC.
Kodansha USA to take over Del Rey Manga Licenses- October 4, 2010
- Retailers relied on Del Rey Manga for Kodansha’s North American titles.
- In the wake of Del Rey Manga closing, a comic book retailer shared his concerns on his blog.
Christopher Butch, manager of The Beguiling comic book store, states, “So the news this morning that KodanshaUSA will takeover publishing all of Del Rey Manga’s many bestselling titles? Disappointment bordering on dread” He continues, “Every single one of their releases to date have missed their shipping date, and they’re already on a _very_generous shipping schedule. The result is that some of the bestselling perennials in manga publishing–AKIRA and GHOST IN THE SHELL have been unavailable for nearly 2 years now, and there are no answers to customer concerns why this is so.”
- In order for Kodansha USA to supersede its predecessor, these kinks have to be worked out.
- Developing positive ties with retailers, distributors and wholesalers are essential tools for established publishers.
- For Kodansha USA these relationships are even more important in order to sustain a presence in the US market.
- By allowing intermediaries licenses to expire, Kodansha Ltd had complete control over its titles. However, what they intended to do with it had yet to be seen. That was until March…
Anime blogger Chris Beverage states, “… The big elephant in the room, Kodansha Japan. The company has had a hold on its titles appearing in digital form for quite a while…”"Translator William Flannagan (who works on numerous Kodansha titles under Del Rey and now Kodansha Comics), [believes] that appears to have changed: Just heard over Twitter that the previous hold n Kodansha titles by the iPad has been lifted, and now those Kodansha titles can be published on the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. It looks like ebooks are proceeding apace.” Beveridge continues, “So, with some luck, we might see Kodansha’s manga titles arrive on the digital platform this year.”
- Was Kodansha finally take a note from Viz Media, LLC, the U.S. manga domineer?
- Was Kodansha finally ready to challeneg Viz Media which debuted its iPad app in November 2010? From the outside looking in, it appears that way.
New York Times Best Sellers Manga-March 2011
During the week of March 6, Viz Media, LLC, held the Top 5 Slots on NY Times Manga Bestsellers
- Naruto VOL. 50
- Black Butler, VOL 4
- Black Bird, VOL. 7
- FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST, VOL.
- BAKUMAN, VOL.3
- This is important to consider because the calculations are based on both print and digital sales
- It is also important to note that none of Kodansha USA titles ranked in the Top 10
- One has to ask if Kodansha’s titles could have broken Viz Media’s monopoly if had digital sales too?
To borrow a line from Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Kodansha USA has the ability to become a powerful force in the manga world. However, the subsidiary has internal problems that need resolving. Key amongst them is developing a stable relationship with retailers and American consumers. Additionally, Kodansha Ltd needs to decide on digitizing it vast library. One of the reasons Viz Media dominates US manga stems from its digital presence. In order for Kodansha USA to rise to prominence it needs to capitalize on new technologies and resolve internal glitches.
Thanks for reading,
An EPublisher Confesses
- VIZ Media Announces the Exciting Finale to PLUTO: URASAWA × TEZUKA Manga Series (prweb.com)
- Director Found for Akira Adaptation (dreadcentral.com)