Sporadic Sequential
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Cut One Head Off and Two More Sprout Forth

Something I meant to mention in yesterday's entry but forgot to include: How will existing readers of an existing series like Dragon Head know that they won't be able to buy subsequent volumes from their preferred vendor? I'm sure Tokyopop will have some sort of blurb or ad in the back of the books, but I'm wondering how effective that will be. Many times I skip those pages because I figure they're nothing but annoying ads. So if a customer is simply used to stopping in at his local bookstore every couple months and scanning the shelves for his favorite manga series, what then? Say he's fairly motivated and even goes to the customer service counter to inquire about the series' status. Will the bookstores know that these titles are only available through Tokyopop's website? Even if they do know that, will they want to send customers to a competitor's site? Will bookstores be able to special order the books directly through Tokyopop? (It seems doubtful given what Tokyopop has said about the initiative so far, but it seems like something Tokyopop would want to consider, especially for bookstores that pride themselves in being able to fill any customer request.)

Again, going by what Tokyopop said in the ICv2 interview, it seems as though Tokyopop will be promoting their online exclusives...exclusively online. Which seems a bit self-defeating. I'm assuming that most fans who are active participants in Tokyopop's new online community are already aware of most of Tokyopop's catalog. If they haven't previously expressed interest in any of the now online-only titles, I'm not sure why they would now, especially since Tokyopop isn't offering any special deal to entice customers to try out these titles they can't even preview before they buy.

(An aside: Tokyopop's new site continues to frustrate me the more I attempt to navigate it. For example, the page for Dragon Head doesn't even have any info to indicate that the series will only be available through Tokyopop's site starting with volume six. The pages for other online-only series similarly lack such info. Sure, there are "BUY NOW" links for online-only volumes, but volumes available in bookstores have the same link, so there's no distinction to let customers know they'd better pre-order the "exclusive" books if they want them. Granted, Tokyopop isn't the only site that suffers from a lack of coordination and follow-through, but this is a case of sloppy execution that could cripple the initiative and lead Tokyopop to conclude, "Well, we tried, but there was simply no audience for these books on- or off-line.")

Perhaps Tokyopop has plans and promotions in place that will deal with these problems. At the moment, however, it seems like Tokyopop is too busy patting itself on the back for overcoming previous obstacles to acknowledge the potential pitfalls of its latest brilliant initiative.

And remember: If you like Dragon Head, pre-order volume 6 from Amazon in an effort to keep it from going Tokyopop.com-exclusive!