Viz Media announced the launch of their new iPad application earlier in the week – a digital shop downloadable on iPads where users can purchase volumes of their manga.
Volumes in this digital format will cost $4.99 each and Viz Media is currently offering the first volume of Death Note for free so readers can test out the program. Currently they’re offering the company’s big-name titles such as One Piece, Naruto and Dragonball. iTunes lists volumes of One Piece as being the top sellers on the app since its debut.
Personally this news doesn’t interest me much because, well, I don’t own an iPad. Even if I did, I prefer books in paper-format – personal preferable. For those who have an iPad and enjoy reading comics digitally, however, I can of course see the more jump-for-joy reasoning here.
Looking at from sheerly from an audience perspective, those who own an iPad have proven themselves already the type more apt to pay money for their hobbies and entertainment. It’s a perfect environment to find manga fans and create new ones on those grounds alone. Still, I have to wonder – those who own the iPad, are they the 12-16 year old audience that thebooks Viz Media is offering are aimed for? Highly doubtful. That Viz Media wouldn’t come out of the gate with more mature titles such as their Sig Ikki series, most of which already have at least some kind of digital rights as they’re posted to the imprint’s website on a weekly basis, boggles my mind and is a bit disappointing.
I’m not saying that readers of any age can’t or don’t enjoy the Shonen Jump big-guns, and there’s certainly value in putting out the big-sellers, but they hardly seem strong titles to use in reaching out to the vast majority of iPad owners who likely don’t read manga in the first place. It feels a mix-match of audiences.
Then again, the app has only been out since November 2nd, so who knows how many or how potentially diverse their manga offerings could be in the future.