The English manga publishing industry has started to look pretty glum recently. First news of Aurora Publishing’s supposed demise spread through the web after the approach of listings appearing to be the company for sale, then in late April Yen Press announced that it’s anthology magazine Yen Plus is no longer going to be in print.
Continuing down a dim road, GoComi’s forums first went down in April but the website itself followed just the other day – gocomi.com now showing an expired domain as of May 8th. This led to speculation but alas none of it good, especially as the publisher hasn’t released a book since October 2009.
Audry Taylor, Creative Director of GoComi, confirmed the website’s demise on her Twitter account while AnimeNewsNetwork recently learned that she was no longer working at the company. Earlier this year GoComi had posted an update on their forums about the difficulties they were having and that their website would likely be something shut down in the future. Whether this means the company itself is gone or just really slimming back remains to be confirmed but the prospects aren’t looking anywhere near as good as we’d like.
Doing nothing to soften the blow however came news of Viz Media laying off 60 of its employees
and shutting down its New York branch altogether (Update: News of their NY offices closing has been confirmed false by Viz). This equals around 40% of the publisher’s workforce, a sizable chunk for any company to let go. While this shouldn’t be taken as a sign that the company is going to vanish on us, it is a stark reminder of the things they’re required to do to keep stable. A statement was released on Viz’s website regarding the move as well, taking the time to reassure consumers.
It’s a sign of darker times but certainly not the end of them. Still, I can’t help but see it as a real eye-opener as to what really equates to success. New York Times Bestseller list looks impressive, for example, yet the numbers that beat out other lesser-selling graphic novels doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve sold truck loads, or enough to make up for the dozens of titles released each month that don’t sell nearly as many as their frontline siblings and still need the support to keep strong.
“But what can I do to help?” You may (hopefully) ask yourself. It’s pretty simple, and nothing you probably haven’t heard before – buy. Your money helps the publishers, funds the creators and truly shows your support. Not buying now because you’d rather buy later? The sad reality is that the books you want may not be there later. Publishers can’t live off money later – they need your help now, not only to fund the price of making the books but also to show them people do want more. That’s the way you can do your part to see your favourite books on store shelves later.
And you don’t need to buy a lot – companies understand that many of their target audiences don’t have as much disposable income as they’d like. Do what you can and be proud of your collection (and never stop looking for those awesome bargains at your local store, online vendor or anime convention!).
Imagine the sales if today (good ‘ol new book shipment Wednesday), if every reader who’s read an illegal scanlation went out and bought one manga book. Just one. Food for thought?
But stay positive, folks! Times may look a little glum but there’s so much power in our hands to make a difference. Purchase, share, suggest and love your manga!
And keep in mind the good stuff we’ve been lucky to have recently as well: the evolving trend of omnibus editions is allowing affordable ways to collect manga series both new and old, Fantagraphics recently announced their own manga imprint showing an appreciated enthusiasm in the market and experimentation with different genres, online manga from companies offers lots of legal ways to enjoy your favourites digitally and manga publishers continue to pick up numerous new series. Just to name a few of course!