Sporadic Sequential
Sunday, April 05, 2009
I'd Buy THAT For Dollar More

I'm not sure how widely known this is, but it looks like Tokyopop has recently raised the standard price of its manga from $9.99 to $10.99. Gia Manry mentioned this way back on Dec. 11, 2008 but I couldn't find any other coverage of this. Granted, the increase is only a dollar and many other companies already charge this much for their manga, so perhaps many fans simply don't care. I was surprised I didn't see any sites like ICv2 asking Tokyopop about the price jump, though. After all, Tokyopop used to tout the $9.99 price point as an important element in their formula for success. (Perhaps now that business isn't as good the psychologically appealing $10 price point is no longer so important to maintain.)

I'm not sure exactly when the price increase went into effect. Based on this listing on AAA Anime, it looks like the price hike started with titles released in late March and early April. Gia mentioned in her post that she thought Fruits Basket 22 (released 3/17/2009) would be unaffected by the price increase, but Amazon shows the list price as $10.99. I noticed the price increase when searching for Sgt. Frog 17 (release date 5/5/2009). Since Sgt. Frog is the only Tokyopop series I'm following, this doesn't impact me much, but I wonder how other fans feel? Is a dollar price increase in this economy enough to cause readers to reconsider purchasing one of their favorite manga series?

I'm assuming the price increase won't be accompanied by any additions to the manga volumes, like better paper stock or color inserts. It would be interesting if Tokyopop followed a page from DC's recent playbook and offset the price increase with backup features. Like DC, Tokyopop could use the price increase as an opportunity to publish fan favorites that don't sell well enough to justify individual publication. It'd be especially interesting if Tokyopop used such backups to complete the many OEL series stuck in publishing limbo. Of course, you'd run the risk of fans complaining about charging more for series they don't want to read, but if the prices were going to go up anyway, I assume most fans would rather get something additional rather than nothing at all. (So far this seems to be the general reaction from DC fans on message boards.) With manga fans there's the additional worry that some manga purists would object to mixing non-Japanese comics with "authentic" Japanese manga, but perhaps this concern could be lessened by (1) downplaying the "OEL manga" label, positioning the backups as bonus comics material that might appeal to fans of the main manga; and (2) making sure that the backup matched the main series in tone and themes. For example, I wouldn't mind seeing Brandon Scott Graham's King City as a backup for Sgt. Frog, and I think it would make a good fit given the shared sci-fi elements and exaggerated but detailed art styles.

How about you? If you were an editor at Tokyopop, which unfinished series would you give new life as backup strips, and what books would you run them in?

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