RightStuf – the mega-mecha online retail store of anime & manga goodies – made a surprise announcement last week when they revealed they had partnered with Tokyopop’s remains and Japanese publisher, Gentosha, to release the third volume of Hetalia. Along with the PR, they’ve also posted a 6-minute long video discussing the news.
Hetalia (Vol.03) is listed at $15.99/US cover price, but RightStuf’s current sale on it moves that down to $11.99/US. This first “limited edition” is set for release in June of this year and will sport eight colour pages for those who pre-order it. The kicker here is that the book will only be made available through RightStuf itself, which immediately puts it on the pricier side for international buyers who either need to pay the per-item shipping fee or, if you’re Canadian, reach that $150 free-shipping threshold. Of course, that doesn’t protect you from those hefty customs charges.
Along with the third volume of Hetalia, RightStuf is also making available new copies of the first and second via a print-on-demand system. Each of these will have the $15.99/US price tag as well. Volume three will be made available as a POD book once the initial run is depleted with the colour pages reproduced in black & white.
Tokyopop had already finished production work on this title months ago, around the same time the company ceased operations as a manga publisher (this of course followed by their sudden mind change). RightStuf’s involvement in the title right now seems to be mostly that as a distributor, though their role is likely larger when it comes to the funding and distribution of subsequent print-on-demand versions.
RightStuf representatives were lively on Twitter when the PR first went out last week and had some interesting things to say, particularly for those still holding out hope for a return of other titles that went down with the Tokyopop ship.
“If people buy the Hetalia vols, there’s a possibility of more Hetalia… & similiar arrangements for other titles. (No promises, atm!)”
“Because we know you hate it when you can’t find the manga volumes you want! So…”
“The scoop: We see your requests, & we’re making note of them. We’d love to expand this program…”
Though I doubt I’ll ever be able to let go of my Tokyopop skepticism, it is great to see another opportunity for a fan-favourite title to return to print. Hetalia – a comedic series about personified versions of countries and nations playing out historical events – has been one of the most in-demand titles since Tokyopop announced their ‘end’. What I look most forward to is seeing what other series could come of this arrangement, especially if RightStuf’s manga-releasing program isn’t specifically tied to Tokyopop. With digital becoming a more common means of distribution, and print in turn having a more shaky looking future, print-on-demand has for a long time seen like an inevitable route for some books. It means a bit more money for some books but that certainly beats no book at all.