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A 40-ish publisher (editor, project manager, etc.), husband, and father of an even number of offspring, I grew up, or failed to, reading fantasy and sci-fi. I still enjoy reading, and now am trying to write. My favorite books include YA fantasy, manga, biography, and advice to authors. I'm also a former history major/grad student/high school teacher and assessment writer. Now I work for a school supplement publisher, specializing in high-low chapter books. I spend a lot of my time controlling reading levels. At night, I cut loose and use long words. W00t!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kodansha Comics Announces New Titles

Kodansha Comics Announces New Titles

This is good news for Japanese-impaired manga fans.

The recent collapse of US-based manga licenser-publishers CMX, Del Rey, and other smaller houses looked like a killing blow for the American consumer. In the absence of licensing, hungry fans turned increasingly to unlicensed scanlations for their fix.

Now Digital Manga and Kodansha are announcing expansions, licensing pickups, and new titles. Very good news.

Scanlations (scans + translations) probably undercut licensing by leeching off the market for translations. They may stimulate consumption long-term by developing the appetite for the content. This does not feed mangaka. And the publishers weren't too happy about it, either, so they got together about a year ago to curtail the illegitimate distribution of existing content with added translations.

I have long been of the opinion that the American publishers should hire off some of the better translators, letterers and cleaners for American licenses of the titles. But Digital Manga's model is one I was thinking more recently was smarter. The iPad especially looks like a good platform for manga. It's about the right size, and with touchscreen and wireless connectivity, comfortable and effective as a viewer. It's color, unlike the Kindle, and it multitasks, with lots of entertainment already associated with it.

Plus, scouting, editing, printing, warehousing, marketing, shipping, reprinting, and later discounting long serial publications with fluctuating and unpredictable markets is a challenge. Adding the translation, licensing, and cross-cultural barriers to that meant that few manga were getting published in the US. And only the proven hits with proven market success were getting here at first.

The presence of titles like Genkaku Picasso (DMP) and Sayonara Zetsubo-Sensei (DelRey, now Kodansha USA) demonstrate that quirkier visions can find market in the US.

Now, American manga fans, it's up to us. We actually have to stop downloading scanlations for these and pay the proverbial piper. I know what Christmas presents I'm asking for.

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