All change with Manga – Tokyopop out, Kodansha in..

Published On September 2, 2009 | By Joe Gordon | Comics

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News comes via Mangablog that Kodansha is letting the licenses for various Tokyopop titles lapse. From the Tokyopop press release:

The Japanese publisher Kodansha, from whom TOKYOPOP has licensed many terrific series over the years — Chobits, Love Hina, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Rave Master, Initial D, Kindaichi, Life, GetBackers, and Love Attack, to name a few — has decided to let all existing contracts with TOKYOPOP expire on all manga series that they have licensed to us. As a result, Kodansha will not renew any licenses with TOKYOPOP for any new manga volumes. What does this mean? TOKYOPOP will not be allowed to complete the publication of any series that is currently in progress; in addition, TOKYOPOP will not be allowed to reprint titles after the current inventory has been sold out, so once these series are sold out at retail, they will not be available for consumers to purchase. The reasons for Kodansha’s decision were not communicated to TOKYOPOP.

We have received many emails and phone calls about titles related to this announcement, and given the nature of the negotiations, we could not definitely answer any of those questions until now. We love all of these series, and we are disappointed that we will not get to enjoy the outcome of some of our favorite manga. We hope to see these series completed some day…. However, if they are ever published again, they will not be published by TOKYOPOP.

Ouch. The list of titles is long and exhaustively covered at Precocious Curmudgeon. That looks like seriously bad news for Tokyopop, one of the main Manga publishers in the US market. But it seems Kodansha have their reasons for doing this – after much speculation it seems they’re going to be making their own Manga line at some point, distributed by Random House, in addition to licensing to Del-Rey and Dark Horse. This from ICV2:

The manga which Kodansha will be publishing in North America will be distributed through Random House.  There had been some speculation that the Kodansha titles would be published as an imprint of Random; we’ve confirmed that the relationship will be for distribution. Kodansha continues to license manga titles to Del Rey (see “Del Rey Acquires New Manga”) in addition to launching its own manga publishing operation in the U.S.  So Random House will be distributing both Del Rey Manga and Kodansha manga titles. Diamond Comic Distributors will sell the Kodansha manga to comic stores.

So it’s all change in the main Manga players yet the overall feeling is that between Kodansha, Del-Rey and Dark Horse, the titles that Tokyopop is losing will resurface at some point in the future. How far into the future is a little more open to speculation. But what this means for Tokyopop, much loved by Manga fans (and retailers – Tokyopop really spearheaded the Manga explosion in stores), is as yet uncertain.

For more on this see Heidi’s detailed post and Tom’s analysis that yielded this gem:

“I think there are three basic issues to track here. The first is what exactly this ends up doing to Tokyopop, which I think maybe no one talked about out loud right away upon yesterday’s news out of a sort of respect for having just watching someone get hit in the stomach by a small truck.”

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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