There was something I forgot to make specific note of yesterday in my post about Gia’s Sakura Con coverage; something that I’m going to take a little more time going into today.
The speakers at the TokyoPop panel were asked a question about whether or not they would be changing their Canadian prices on their books to reflect the strength of the Canadian dollar. Their answer was yes (adding on that of course they have no power over books that have already been distributed).
Manga publishers who currently display both American and Canadian prices on their books are Tokyopop/BLU, Viz, Kitty Media, ICE Kunion (absorbed by Yen Press), DelRey and CMX. Will they follow suit?
In the meantime, and in the future with older releases, what are companies and individual sellers doing to insure that what the Canadian consumer pays reflects the strength of our dollar?
When the Canadian dollar surpassed the American one, many shoppers sought out the big bookstore chains in the hopes of some great deals. Unfortunately, people who waltzed into their local Chapters were greeted with large signs plastered about the store that said there was nothing they could do about the strength of the dollar and would continue to charge the listed Canadian price. The same was reflected in their online store and Amazon.ca. What was a reader to do?
There was, and still remains, the option of buying from American retailers online which allowed for cheaper prices when paying the American price with Canadian dollars. This was especially useful when buying directly from publishers (I stocked up nicely on GoComi and 801Media titles). Problem? Shipping costs! Not to mention the occassional publisher who wouldn’t pay the dreaded border crossing fee, leaving you with a wad of cash demanded on your doorstep…
Today Chapters and Amazon.ca continue to charge the Canadian listed price on both new and old releases (usually $2-5 more than the American price), with the exception of select titles at Chapters. I’m not sure how Chapters determines what books they sell ‘at cost’ but I’m assuming they’re just on sale to get rid of them and Chapters says it’s due to the loonie ’cause it’s… nice to see? Can’t say for sure but a deal’s a deal. In response to complaints and concerns, Chapters also put into place different bargains and deals for Canadian consumers that are meant to off-set the overpriced Canadian listings, including percentage off sales for releases out over three years and books that cost over a certain amount, and the usual 10% off for iReward members. Both Chapters and Amazon.ca still offer free-shipping for purchases over $40.
But why you ask? Chapters wants to make sure all its consumers know that they don’t make any money off the stronger Canadian dollar. With most publishing companies running out of the United States, an extra fee (usually around 10%) is added to book prices to make up for shipping and added cost of general sale in Canada. You can read it in their own words here.
Though wait… what about comic book and speciality stores? What’re they charging these days? Well, really it depends on where you go. I’ve asked around at a bunch of different places here in good ‘ol Nova Scotia, as well as some vendors up at Animaritime, and got a variety of responses.
Most had the same to say: they sell all their merchandise at what the listed price is and most publishers haven’t yet changed their prices to reflect the current economy (note back to the opening point about Tokyopop planning to do just this). Also don’t forgot those mark-ups that most independant shops, like comic book stores, need to tack onto prices to make a profit off selling them. Some stores, however, began selling their merchandise at the American listing price to reflect the loonie’s strength and plan to do so until they feel the Canadian prices accurately reflect the market.
If you’re curious about the prices you pay for your manga, what the listed price is and what was added on by the store, most places don’t mind explaining it to you so it doesn’t hurt to ask. You’ll probably find that most wish they could lower their prices but would find themselves losing money if they did so.
So what can you as a Canadian consumer do in the meantime while we wait for publishers to catch up? Well, always take advantage of the sales, deals and free shipping (when buying online) that places like Chapters and Amazon.ca offer. When you know the loonie is living large and over the American dollar, see about buying from publishers’ online stores and see how the prices look (remember they’re listed with the US dollar!). Don’t forget about those shipping fees either. Sometimes they cancel out the money you’d save.
So cross your fingers and keep an eye out! It should hopefully only be a matter of time before other publishers walk the same path Tokyopop is preparing for and we should be seeing some lower numbers on the back of future books.