Monday Manga Market Research

October 5th, 2009

This is a quick piece of off-the-cuff market research for Monday. This is completely rhetorical. No company I know is doing or considering doing this, I’m making these numbers up and they are based on nothing at all. I just want to be clear – this is simply a thought exercise.

If a company offered a flat fee for a full manga series that, if they hit a certain number of purchasers, they would *guarantee* publication of the full series and, it was series you liked – would you buy in?

If yes, here’s three scenarios. Which one would you be most likely to commit to, which one least?

5 volumes at 200 pages per volume – $50.

4 volumes at 300 pages per volume – $60

3 volumes at 450 pages per volume – $75

(Yes, I know these are not the same page counts. There’s a point to that. But all the models have the same exact value per page. These are not the same deal – it’s not the same series. One series is 1000 pages long, split into 5, one series is 1200 pages long, split into 4 volumes. The third series is 1350 pages long, split into 3 volumes. You can’t get the 1350pp series in 5 volumes. You can’t get the 1000pp series in one.)

Where do you draw the line on “this is too much for me to commit”?

What price point seems most sensible to you?

What would entice you to make the commitment (i.e., is getting the entire series enough, or would extras makes the difference?)

What model would you propose to head off the dreaded “sales dropped off, we can’t finish the series” problem?

Feel free to ramble your thoughts in the comments field. I’m really interested in hearing them. :-)

***

Here’s a few conditions of this thought exercise, to limit the variables:

1) You can’t make this question about savings. It would cost *exactly* the same as a single volume at a time – you’re simply funding them at once. The subscription you buy ensures that all of them will be printed because the company definitely has the money now.

2) You can’t ask about bulk release. No manga company can front the cost to release a 26 volume series in hopes that enough people *might* buy it. That’s an insanely stupid risk that is almost guaranteed to fail and guaranteed to cause the company to shut down. Maybe the three-volume series could come out at once – but only if you don’t mind waiting for all three to be put together….that’s going to take longer than one at a time.

3) The company won’t go out of business. Sheesh. Not until after this series is complete.

4) You’ll get all of the volumes. They will be delivered to you by a scantily clad person of the gender you are interested in who will scatter flowers upon you as you sign. :-)

If these other things are absolutely critical to you, then the thought exercise will fail. Manga companies cannot fund bulk releases of whole series at discounts for fans who *might* buy.

What we’re testing here is one thing – would you be willing to front the money for an entire series in order to make sure it’s all printed. Nothing else.

Second note: These responses are a great example of why consumers are the WORST possible place to go for information. LOL Basically, you want a company to front all the money for a series, print it all at once, somehow make all the stores carry it all until you feel like buying it – and you want it cheaper than it cost to print. With extras! lol

– E

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66 Responses

  1. It really depends on the series, but if I could “buy in” to a series — let’s take Zipang (26 vol.) in my case — and get it for a slightly cheaper price (80-90% MSRP), then I would gladly do it. Obviously I’d research the series a bit more before buying into it, but if I could just pay that and get it over with, I’d be happy to.

    I actually tend to drop series simply because I get out of the habit of picking up the volumes, or I miss one or two releases because of a tight month budget-wise, and then forget about what I’m collecting and start up a new series.

  2. Sheentaku says:

    Yes!
    This would be great for as I tend to forget what I am buying or want volume I am on. I think this would only work in short series (around 10 volume max).

  3. ArcaJ says:

    A longer series really would be a cost issue for me. I’m used to spreading the cost out over a few months. However, if it could guarantee the printing of future volumes I’d buy in if the price is right.

    ::HUGS::

    Arca Jeth

  4. C. Banana says:

    I think the thing is that I wouldn’t buy a series I know very little about so I’d rather buy just one volume first to see if I like the series. I probably wouldn’t commit to a full series unless I had done something like read a scanlation beforehand. After the first volume, I tend not to want to wait for successive volumes so I’ll order all of the rest at once if I can.

    The scenario that most appeals to me would be the first scenario as it’s both a smaller commitment and better value-wise based on quantity.

    Extras I don’t really care about although a box with applicable art would be nice.

  5. @CBanana – One of the conditions was that you *already* know you want the series. This is not about convincing you to buy something you don’t know if you want.

  6. Where do you draw the line on “this is too much for me to commit”?
    With the rare exception of something very limited, my Pre-Order cut-off in spending is $100.00 anything over that would need to woo me with some sort of gimmick to make it worth it for me to buy-in now versus paying the same cost to get them as they are released.

    What price point seems most sensible to you?
    The 5 volumes for $50.00 package seems very reasonable considering that’s about the volume size and price of most of the manga that I buy.

    What would entice you to make the commitment (i.e., is getting the entire series enough, or would extras makes the difference?)
    Getting the entire series is enough for me and I would be singing the praises of any company that opted to try out this method of distribution. I am so frustrated with all of this dropping-series-with-one-or-two-volumes-left-to-go stuff. I know very well why publishers have to do this but as a “scorned” consumer with a bookshelf full of domestically released titles that end with the Japanese editions of the series I am more than a little miffed at this bail out practice. (I’m looking at you Siete Mares!!!!)

    What model would you propose see to head off the dreaded “sales dropped off, we can’t finish the series”?
    Remember when DC and Marvel used to make those 3 pack comic grab-bags that you could pick up at the local convenience store. I’d buy those all the time just to get something new to read or even pick up an issue of a title I liked that I was missing or that my local comic book store didn’t have. Why can’t manga companies do something similar? Package similar titles together in a discounted set using the lure of the strongest title to sell an issue of the weakest and possibly pick up readership that way. If three titles usually cost $30 have a $24.95 pack of three or even do a 2 title set for $17.49. This way they could continue to publish a weak selling series with the excess of any unsold volumes going into these sets as the B manga.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So we’d somehow “know” that we’re going to like all 26 volumes? In that case I’d be fine with subscribing. Of course, that would never happen in the real world. I may love Aoi Hana and Girl Friends, but probably wouldn’t want to see them go to 26 volumes.

  8. @Audie Erotica – That’s an interesting idea, but you’re mixing up money spent up front with money recouped after the fact. And then there’s the bit about “similar.” I might think of two series as similar and you might look at that and go “What the heck? They arem’t anything alike!”

    Companies have to pay for printing *before* they sell you copies, unless you preorder. So you’re still asking them to put money out of their pockets in order for you to *maybe* buy something you like.

  9. jenn says:

    Hmm, it seems a question of whether consumers are altruistic or love the series enough. :P I’m cheapo and trying not to collect too many books (god, they’re heavy) before I have space for them, so I wouldn’t go for this. This is probably because I could always just fall back on buying raws or the Chinese-published copies…so I’m generally not all that worried about a series not being finished. XD

    I generally have no idea of how many pages the books I read are, but on the assumption that it’s exactly the same price as buying separate volumes, I’d rather just buy as they come out..

    If I were committing, however, I’d probably also be looking at the company and possibly even the translator doing it (if possible?! XD)before I decide..most are fine, but I’ve seen some translations that I just..prefer not to read.

  10. Frederick D. says:

    Just to clarify – when you talk about extras, do you mean:
    -1) Tchotchkes like boxes, calendars, etc., or:
    -2) Content extras like 4-koma or side stories that sometimes appear at the end of the volume?

    If it’s 1), then those would be nice, but not important to me; if you’re talking about 2), though, that would pretty much be a must-have for me to place a pre-order.

    Since we’re talking about a series, I like, I’d spring for any one of the three price points, though in terms of preference, my favorite would be the $50/5 volume plan, with the $90/3 volume plan being my least favorite. I don’t mind waiting a while longer for the series’ end if I can save money, especially if I know for sure the series won’t get dropped before the end.

    Of course, even that’s relative. If the volumes were getting released on, say, a quarterly or semi-annual schedule no matter whether it was the 5- or 3- volume plan, that might be enough to make the $90 plan more attractive; getting the complete series almost a year earlier would be worth the extra $40 to me.

    Practically speaking, though, I think the $50/5 volume plan is going to be the most practical in terms of getting the most people onboard. It seems that people notice sticker price above all other things. I still remember back when FUNi first released the Fruits Basket anime at about $10 more per volume than the typical price at the time and had a hard time selling it because of that – never mind that it was a great series, and at 7 episodes or so per disc, people were actually getting more episodes per dollar. They saw a higher sticker price, and that was that.

  11. C. Banana says:

    @Erica – I still have to qualify for that statement as saying that I’ve probably read scanlations already but yes I would do it in a heartbeat.

  12. @Frederick D. That’s up to you. Would that kind of thing make any difference to you?

    Not talking 26 volumes here. Focus people! I asked one question, and you’re complicating it with all sorts of unrealted things. If you LIKE and WANT a series – would you be willing to front the money for the series. Yes/No. If yes, what’s your price point? Real price point – not some fantasy space where books cost less than they cost.

  13. That Sandman Guy says:

    Marc M. here.

    I’d be willing to put money up front for a guarantee on getting the whole series.

    And all three options are fine with me. They all seem reasonable.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m a little tired at the moment, so forgive me if I’m mixed up. Are you asking “Would you be willing to pre-order the entire set of a series you already know you like in order to guarantee that the series won’t be dropped before completion?” If so, then, hell yeah as long as long as the price per volume was comparable to what manga normally costs. Of the examples you gave, I think the 5 w/ 200 pgs for $50 sounds the most reasonable.
    If the price of the boxset pre-order was slightly lower than what it would cost to get each volume individually as it comes out, then I would definitely be all over it. Like for instance if the 5/$50 had a msrp of $11/volume when sold individually or something like that.

  15. @Anonymous @That Sandman Guy – Thanks for your input! Yes, that is exactly what I was asking. :-)

  16. BruceMcF says:

    On the specific post question, 5 at $50, without a doubt … if I’m paying for a subscription, I want it to keep coming! 4 extra arrivals of 200 pgs each can easily be more joy than 2 extra arrivals of 450 pgs each, so if 5x200pp. is actually 1/3 cheaper to produce than 3x450pp., definitely 5/200pp. @$50 is the price point.

    More generally, one thing I noticed in both primary and general election fund-raising is that people love a ticker.

    So one thing that comes to mind is a “needed to launch pre-order” ticker, where pre-orders at the ticker are refunded if the series does hit the target count by the target date.

    The launch point is set to cover enough subscriptions so that a conservative rather than center-line estimate of additional subscription sales on commitment will cover costs – moderately aggressive but not speculative.

    There should be an extra for being a “launch pre-order” customer, and by the same token it has to be something that is cheap to offer per item – say, an online code to download a special piece of digital IP – an electronic only side story, “best of fan-art” or some such. Those who pre-order subscriptions at Amazon etc. after commitment do not get THAT extra.

    The reason for targeting very low per item cost for launch pre-order extras is that ideally it would be given to all launch pre-order customers even if the series fails to launch and the subscription cost is refunded or the customer opts to shift it to another series.

    Pre-order trinkets/postcards/etc, if any, would be decided after commitment, and would be all pre-orders, not just launch pre-orders but also Amazon, Rightstuf, etc.

    Also, individual sales should include fulfillment cards for “catch up” and “subscribe to balance of the series” at the same per-issue price as the regular subscription, but no extras.

  17. @Bruce McF – You’re angling to become my marketing manager, aren’t you? :-)

    The ticker idea is interesting.

    Here’s a wrench for you to trip over – what if the manga is 450pp x 3 v and there’s no way to change that. Like, say Sexy Voice and Robo had to be a larger volume. There was no way to shift it to a smaller, multi-volume set. :-)

    Not all manga are cute little 5-volume 200pp sets.

  18. Ash says:

    1) As a college student my price ceiling is around $60. If I’m willing to shell out $60 for a pre-order 360 game from a company I trust, I’d be willing to shell out $60 for a pre-order manga that I know I want.

    2) Although I want as much story as possible as quickly as possible, the highest volume/lowest price point appeals most to me even if I have to wait longer to get the full story.

    3) Getting the entire series from a company I trust would be enough for me to buy in. I’ll like the company even more (consumer loyalty and all that) if they add in all the extras like side stories and 4-koma that appeared in the original.

    4) For me, this depends on the demographic you’re selling your product to. Since it’s a manga being sold in the US, the demographic is probably going to be pretty broad thus the $50 at higher volume would be what I would go for were I to start up my own publishing company. It’ll appeal just as well to those who have more disposable income as to those who have less. And it’ll be less of a tough sell when it comes down to marketing the manga.

    Thanks.

  19. BruceMcF says:

    If the manga has to be 450pp., and those are the prices, and presuming I do want it, then I’m on the sidelines hoping for it to launch so I can buy it a copy at a time …

    … except of course for cutting and pasting the ticker code to various places to try to get someone else willing to put the money down to help it to launch.

    Circumstances could shift that price point (landing a full time job, having a cycle and ride commute, etc.) but at the moment, a subscription over $50 would pretty much sideline me.

  20. Thanks everyone – your comments are really interesting and helpful. While this is a rhetorical question, my goal here is to see if there even *is* a viable model for manga publishers, short of giving it away on ad supported sites like fansubbers do.

    At the moment, I’m inclined to think there simply may not be a real way for a publisher to make enough money off of any one book to support the others outside a significant blockbuster.

  21. Scott says:

    I’d have to go with the first option, the 5 @ $50.

    While the third presents a better value, the first has the lowest initial investment and continues delivering over a longer period of time.

  22. Sure. If it’s a series I want, I will certainly put up the money for it.

    The “4 volumes at 300 pages per volume – $60” Sounds just about right for me. :)

  23. Zefiris says:

    The 50$ deal. That’d be a lot cheaper than I already pay for japanese manga, after all.

  24. Ed Sizemore says:

    The truth is I would accept all three options. In fact, I’d actually be willing to go up to about $150 (3,000 pages) to get a complete run of some series. I’m thinking something like GeGeGe no Kitaro was 9 volumes and I would love to have a complete set. $90 doesn’t seem like a bad deal at all for such an influencial series. Heck, for the 4 volumes of Ribbon no Kishi I might be willing to pay $80. For fans of short classical series this market model seems ideal. In fact, it’s get me thinking which classical series I would like to see offered this way.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Eh, I think there’re too many odd variables for me, personally, to give what I think would be reasonable input into the question. You are, of course, going to get some wonky feedback when you try to wrap what you’re looking for in so much chaff in order to get that ‘unbiased’ response. Sure, if you just ask straight out, you’ll get positive biases as well as some presumptions about future action, but I wouldn’t complain about the quality of consumer feedback when you’ve gone out of your way to subvert the directness of that feedback.

    Otherwise, I’d ‘subscribe’ to some kind of prestige format re-release of an already published series, basically something I’ve already read, that being the only situation where I really -know- that I’m going to like it. I’d subscribe to an anthology whether I knew I liked it or not as long as I could manage to get on from a decent jump-on point. The big difference is I guess I put more stock in experiencing new things than I do experiencing things I enjoy.

  26. DezoPenguin says:

    If you take into account the two assumptions:

    (a) I already know that I’m going to want the entire series (which, I’ll say, is a very rare occurrence for me–almost every manga I buy I get Volume 1, and then make my decision there, so that fundamental assumption is inherently flawed), and

    (b) I get my money *back* if not enough other people pony up to hit the necessary subscription threshold, then:

    I’d pony up the cash. Certainly for the $50.00 model, probably for the $60.00 model. The $75.00 I’d have to think about, because that would eat a nice chunk of my discretionary spending budget at once; it would depend on just how much I wanted to see that manga.

    However, I think that fundamental assumption is really, badly flawed. I’ve given up on manga series after one volume, and on other series after two or three. I mean, unless it’s by Miyabi Fujieda or I’ve already read scanlations of the entire series and am so in love with it that I want to own it legally and haven’t already bought the Japanese edition, I’d say that there’s a good 75% chance that I won’t say, “This is awesome! I must have this entire series!” sight unseen. So while I’m willing to pay up front for a subscription to a full series that I really want, it’s not many series that make me say, “Give me the whole thing now!” even after reading one full volume.

  27. @Anonymous – Actually, there are very few variables. I had though the different page count, size and number of volumes would indicate that they are different series.

    5/$50 is a typical Tokyopop size and price

    4/$60 is more like a Dark Horse offering

    3/$75 is a niche series – something likely to be targeted toward adults, rather than kids. Let’s call it a Vertical thing.

  28. Mara says:

    Yes

    Obviously I would buy it upfront if I am already interested in it.

    In fact I already do (kinda). I order all my manga though one independent shop in Reading. If there is any series I am interested in I place a standing order for ALL subsequent releases and buy them promptly.

    It is a matter of personal pride that I am a customer who does not jerk the owner around and that I buy all books I have pre-ordered.

  29. Louis says:

    I spent… what, a hundred and eighty aud on an eighteen-volume Fushigi Yuugi box set. Yeah, I’d pay in advance.

  30. Erin says:

    If it was a series I really loved, I would go for the first one ($50), possibly the second ($60). I don’t think extras would make me any more likely to buy.

    But this is coming from someone who doesn’t mind reading works in progress that will never be finished (and who can just buy the rest of the series in Japanese if the English publisher stops putting it out)–it would have to be a series I felt very strongly about for me to drop that much cash on it at once.

  31. animemiz says:

    I would probably fall under the model of

    3 volumes at 450 pages per volume – $75

    What would entice me to get the series?

    Getting the series is enough equation for me. Any bonuses like bookmarks and such is nice, but pretty much garbage after a while. My questioning now, is the quality of the printing.

    Because – one space, and two these are pretty much textbook prices. So I would expect the bindings of these books to be very sturdy.

    Basically I know what type of market I am getting into when I purchase books/mangas, I know the model I am getting into, I would expect the stories to not be a waste of my money. As well as know that if the omnibus is equal to the same amount of pricing you would get, then that is fine. But I imagine you already mention that, so this is an exercise in wishing..

  32. DynamiteiSei says:

    I would actually buy the whole series regardless if I really love it. The only reason I might drop it because of the money or I just got lazy… Although if one volume costs like over 15 bucks or so, which is fairly somewhat unreasonable, then I would reconsider.

  33. bec says:

    i would definitely buy a series in advance if i knew i liked it. The $50/5 volume option sounds best, as you’d feel as though you get more value with what you’re paying simply because there are more volumes in your hands. Extras are nice but not imperitive to my decision, i’d order regardless. I always feel it’s better to buy things you know will be complete rather than getting volume per volume, much like anime volumes vs boxsets because i inhale and obssess over series’ and as a fan can barely wait for new releases to be spread out over time, uncertainly at that. I do it if i have to though, don’t get me wrong :) one series i can think about right now that would be awesome to have this option is the english release of hayate x blade, as so far it’s only 5v definite releases of a 10+ volume manga. Having a hot babe deliver it to my door would just be the cherry on top is all :)

  34. Anonymous says:

    @erica I’ve sorta done this during a xmas manga buying spress I bought all 6 volumes of akira (japanese) in one go,so if I know that the series will be done to a Dark Horse Berserk printing standard then I’d gladly pay upfront if I knew they would give it high production and not alot of editting errors (proofread) before they printed it.

  35. Val says:

    Well, I think all 3 are suitable prices. Though being a student with a limited budget, I guess I’d go for the 4 volumes at $60. It fulfils my need for something longer to occupy my time and it won’t be too long before I have the whole set.

    Val

  36. SatoshiMiwa says:

    This reminds me of a story I read about a Car company asking what colors peoples wanted to see in Cars. They produced a bunch of cars in the colors the survey mentioned and they found they didn’t sell. So often questions like these end up with what people want to see on the shelves and not what they are willing to buy.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing the box set idea, but for me I’d only do it with series I really like. If it’s something I’m going in cold to I’d be hesitant to commit to the project for a long time.

  37. Kaden says:

    I vote for the $50 option. I’m a university student (and therefore, poor) so I’d find it difficult to pay $75 in one go. If I really love a series, I’ll save up for it, but you’d definitely have to wait longer to get my money into your hands :P

    (I also like the “5 volumes for $50” option because I’m not a fan of fat omnibus-type books. I find that when I’m reading thicker books, creases tend to form in the spines. I dislike that because it looks unsightly and it creates book binding problems later on)

    I wouldn’t really need any enticements to get me to make a commitment because getting an entire completed series is enough of a reward for me. However, I do like everything that BruceMcF said. What he proposes makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint. I particularly like the ideas of having a ticker and giving a small bonus to pre-ordering customers :)

  38. Anonymous says:

    Yes! I would be into it, all three price scenarios seem fine to me. I’m already buying the raws but have to read the scanlations, since my japanese is very limited.

  39. Anonymous says:

    If I was at least moderately confident I’d like the series (which generally means I’d have had to have read a few chapters first), I’d have no problem paying any of those prices, or even proportionally more for longer series (unless we’re talking 5000+ pages).

    I don’t care about extras, they’ve never made me more likely to preorder something in the past.

  40. Ashrie says:

    I’d pay $50 for 5 volumes. I think that’s reasonable for my budget (full time student with no steady source of income). However, I can appreciate the other options, and think they’re great ideas.

    What would entice me to make the commitment is if it really was a series I liked, and was looking forward to reading. But that’s really subjective, and doesn’t help much…lol

    I think this model could work for series that would have little chance of success in today’s English-speaking market (filled with LFB/LFG lol) if the volumes were sold separately, such as Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou… Kinda like how Maria-sama is being released, entire series at a time. I wouldn’t mind buying 5 volume packs at a time of YKK…

  41. In effect, Tokyopop’s price point has made it almost impossible to sell adult manga. The large majority of you are willing to get the *appearance* of more (5 volumes vs 3) but actually get less content (1000 pages vs 1350) for a ridiculously low price which only works if the publisher knows they can sell many thousands of each volume.

    Anyone trying to sell you an adult story with more limited appeal will end up eating it, unless the series is a known blockbuster.

    THIS is why you can’t get nice things – you’re not actually willing to pay for it! :-)

  42. Draneor says:

    “THIS is why you can’t get nice things – you’re not actually willing to pay for it! :-)”

    It’s not just about page count. As a fan, I’d prefer manga translated into English have the same volume count as the Japanese tankoubons.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Err, didn’t you just get the results you were shooting for?

    You coupled the most popular format with the lowest price(apparently 1$ less each than Tokyopop would charge), for an audience that is less likely to like spending a lot of money at once. Your results were to be expected.
    I picked it simply because the volumes are smaller, which I prefer, for example, which has little to do with the pricing.

    Considering that, on top of this, people generally allocate less money on potential things they might want, and more on things they actually want at the moment, you skewed the results even more by giving such an abstract manga example. A person answering you “50$” might actually spend 60$ or more on the same thing, once “I want this” is added.

    Marketing Research 101.

    Don’t conclude things the little poll doesn’t indicate ;)

  44. @Draneor – These are page/volume counts from real series. I didn’t make those up, I’m just masking the series I’m talking about. :-)

    Seriously, Tokyopop set expectations at kiddie levels. I think it would be really hard to sell a series of three volumes with 450 page counts – even if that was the original Japanese split. I’d love to be wrong about this. But I don’t think I am.

    Because the readership in the west simply isn’t mature. Chronologically or emotionally. There are fewer adults with stable incomes to support a grown-up manga model.

  45. Laurie says:

    I can do the 50$ approch because thats what manga volumes ususally come in and I can save about 50 for bulk orders if

    1.I know of the series already and plan to buy it(ex. bakuman)

    2. I have to have faith in the company to not change quality for the 5 books.

    3. I need to see the quality before hand.

    4. This is kind of out of a publishers hand but, It depends on the writting style of the manga. If its a manga that I feel might go on a for a very long run but writes in arcs, then I’ll only buy the arcs that I like. granted though, I’ve yet to see many manga going past 10 or so volumes so its not to much of a deal. An example for me would be bleach, passed the 1st arc, I really much dont care.

    But with skip beat (or her older series, Tokyo crazy paradise, 19 volumes) I would definitly buy in lumps of 5 volumes. What you’re asking is kind of like subscribing to the series.

    Though, be upfront with how many orders are needed to be sure that the 5 volumes will be printed (and that the company is in good standing). I’d definiatly buy 5 lump books from Yen as they have done it before with yotsuba

  46. @Anonymous – I wasn’t shooting for anything. I was just curious what people thought was the tipping point on their commitment.

    The wife and I agreed that our tipping point was $100. We’d commit that much up front for a series, but after that there’d have to be something more than just “getting the series out.” Regardless of size/page count/volume count.

  47. Draneor says:

    Ah, as long as it’s the original split, I’m fine with any option then, in theory. Within reason, I don’t mind price variation based on the nicheness of the titles (it’s like that in Japan anyway).

  48. laurie says:

    this is totally up in the air and i have no idea how this goes about or what I’m really talking of but..

    instead of having differnt anthologies and magazines, cant a small industry like manga/anime combine to make an ‘entertainment trad’? like all combine to put samples and what not in one book? I’d assume that collectivly it would pull all the readers into one pile and hopefully get some better advertisement to off set the cost (and ads out side of manga/anime some times. Like art schools, literature, ect. ) Its like how deviantart can make so much money off of the users content

    I know that many are doing it online, and thats totally cool, now if a third party made a site with all the listing of the manga samples from everyone would be easier. Also, make the site friendlier for browsing.

  49. Tim says:

    I think this “preorder for the whole series” model is a great idea. I’d probably do all three models, though I think I’d lean towards the “4 volumes at 300 pages” one.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about “making a commitment,” because usually I always end up buying all volumes after the 1st, even if I didn’t like it as much as I thought, just because I don’t like having uncompleted series.

  50. @laurie – The manag industry in Japanes is made up of dozens of publishers, many of which have exclusive relationships with American distributors. One magazine isn’t possible, doable or a good idea. Viz has Shonen Jump and Yen has Yen Plus. Do you get either of those? If not, why not? The answer you give to that question is the answer you your question. :-)

  51. Anonymous says:

    I’d buy the 5 for fifty. That seems like a reasonable amount of money for me to drop at one time. I might do the 3 for 75 if they were say omnibus additions with extras such as color pages. The 4 for 60 dollars doesn’t appeal to me for some reason.

  52. triskele says:

    I’d be willing to front for the option that gives me the largest volumes. I’m a fast reader, and when I’m reading manga I have to slow down to appreciate it. This means that the average volume of four or five chapters I read in about an hour and feel unsatisfied wanting more.

    If I were guaranteed longer manga volumes for the same value, I’d be all for it.

  53. triskele says:

    Another comment – my only apprehension would be buying in without being sure as to whether I was interested in the whole series.

    I’d be most inclined if there were a small 5-page teaser that outlined, vaguely, some of the plot to come.

  54. Chargone says:

    i figure you’re using US dollars.

    that makes for, roughly, 75, 90, ahh… somewhere over 110 $NZ. [I’m making rough conversions, and the current exchange rate is a lot nicer, but still] over 100 is expensive for a video game, over 120 is a lot and over 140 a rip off for a box set of anime. video games tend to be 80-100 and anime box sets of 6 or 7 volumes come in at 120, as a rule. sometimes a bit cheaper.

    in any given month, due only to my Insanely low expenses, i have somewhere between 150-200 dollars to spend on random stuff i want.

    typically i use about half of this on manga [and other books, but mostly manga] usually about three series at once.

    so, assuming it’s something i know I’ll like and really want, any of them are good.

    if i didn’t, however, only the 5 for 50 is going to even get a look in, and even that will fail utterly if there’s other stuff i know i want, as that gets priority on the cash.

    [do feel free to convert those numbers back. i was using the Very rough 2US=3NZ conversion, and i may have mucked up.]

    most people i know of around my age do not have anywhere Near that much discretionary income though. they have debts, or tuition fees, or spend a lot more on food. various things like that. so i have trouble seeing any of them being inclined to pay up for the more expensive options most of the time.

    so, yeah, in answer to the original question, if i understood it right, any of them would be ok, but the last one might be pushing it a bit.

    but in a significantly more Likely situation, the first is the only one i see working. if all the cash had to be shelled out at once, that is.

    some sort of half now/half on release thing might work, and even let you kick the price up a bit [not a Lot, but a bit] though…

  55. Andre says:

    I’d go with any of them.

    I imagine it might be more economical to split it into 2 500-page volumes in the style of Dark Horse’s Clover release. But getting 5 books for 50 bucks might “feel” like a better value to many fans, plus allow more coverart, if the japanese licensor insists on keeping it at 5 volumes.

    I’d probably be willing to pre-order something like this [though I’d be more likely to do it at my local comic shop- I preorder most of my manga that I collect this way. If it was a one-time-only direct from publish thing though, that would be a different story]. I’d say that this would work best with classic series aimed at older readers/consumers, who have the credit cards to order it all online. Aiming this at teens might not work well [see Tokyopop’s attempt at Print on Demand manga a few years ago].

    Getting an entire series in one swing would be nice. It’s an economic model that has worked for Animeigo, who offers their anime series for preorder on their website, and release it early to fans. This was done for their Urusei Yatsura DVD’s, You’re Under Arrest, Macross and most recently Yawara. Very, very niche titles, but ones that appealed to fans with wallets.

  56. DezoPenguin says:

    I’m not quite sure how “emotional maturity” factors in to the question of having $75 on hand to drop at one time on a manga series. I can do the math on the price-per-page-count; it’s simply a matter of the slice it takes out of my budget at any one time (and the fact that there are virtually no manga series that both my wife and I want enough that we’d want to combine our budgets to get in advance, so that’s “me” rather than “us” there). I *am* an adult with a stable income; it so happens that there are almost invariably things I’d rather spend that $75.00 (or, more accurately, that $15-25) on.

  57. Ephidel says:

    So, would there be a potential online preview to enable people to already like or love the title up for preorder?

    Also, all released “at once” once the preorders are confirmed to be adequet, or released on a “subscription” basis?

    Anyhow.
    Going by the assumptions that I already know I like the series, I could go for all three options, but I would prefer the $50 or $60 models, purely because $75 feels like more money to lay down at once.

    $50 and $60 just feel like more “normal” amounts to spend
    (And honestly, I’d probably even lay $50 down for a series I suspected I’d like or had heard a lot of good press about, rather than one I know I already like)

    With the books themselves… I don’t really need extra stuff. It would be enough to know the series would be published to completion.
    I would, however, very much like to see colour pages.
    With the $75 model I’d love to see sturdy binding and dust jackets, because for all their uselessness I like dust jackets :(
    Or meh, maybe at least some french flaps :P

    The main thing for me actually wouldn’t be the price – it would be the payment and the shipping fee.

    Postage for the books would have to not follow the “costs the same as the damn books” model. I hate that model.
    It is possible to mail books cheaply, so I would expect to see that done.

    Payment wise, I’d like more companies to realise that not everyone has or wants a credit card.
    Debit cards should be an acceptable method of payment for far more companies. And paypal. Everyone loves paypal.

    And, of course, I’d like the entire “preorder” process to be fairly open.
    There should be an idea ahead of time to let people know roughly how many orders would need to be aimed for.
    Perhaps some sort of bar to let you track the likihood of the series being published, like donation meters on websites or charity phone-in tv shows
    … and in turn, a set deadline.
    No “If we get x amount of orders -ever- we would release it” or “If we get x amount of orders by *mumbles so no-one can hear*” but something closer to a “If we get x amount of orders in the next six months we’ll release it” with a prompt refund process if it all falls through.

    I actually do sort of like the idea, as an idea.
    I just don’t quite see it quite working in practice.
    Would obviously work better for shorter series though, as the money looks more manageable.

    While I’d love the idea of being able to guarantee every book of a series would be released in english, and would buy every book, I can’t say I’d like to pay for all of them at once in the case of longer series. That could cause some serious monetary damage to a bank account :P

  58. Ashrie says:

    In effect, Tokyopop’s price point has made it almost impossible to sell adult manga. The large majority of you are willing to get the *appearance* of more (5 volumes vs 3) but actually get less content (1000 pages vs 1350) for a ridiculously low price which only works if the publisher knows they can sell many thousands of each volume.

    Anyone trying to sell you an adult story with more limited appeal will end up eating it, unless the series is a known blockbuster.

    THIS is why you can’t get nice things – you’re not actually willing to pay for it! :-)”

    Sounds like a bit of a sweeping assumption on your part…lol

    I didn’t assume you were talking about adult manga. If it’s a niche title, then sure, people are going to commit a bit more of their wallet for the series. But, reality is, with the economy such as it is, people see $50 or even $60, and take those over larger price ranges, regardless of “value”. People aren’t going to care they get 1350 pages for a bigger amount VS 1000 pages if all they can spend at the time is $50-$60. Smaller price range = most viable option. The market may very well be aware of the “value” of larger page counts, but if one doesn’t have $75+ at hand to spend on “extra expenses” from their weekly budget, then it’s not going to work.

    Sure, with a steady income, I’d be more willing to drop $100 for a title too. But you’re asking for realistic answers, not ideal ones.

    Because the readership in the west simply isn’t mature. Chronologically or emotionally. There are fewer adults with stable incomes to support a grown-up manga model.
    Wow… it’s really not an issue about maturity either. Again, it would depend on the title and the price range of the particular title. And personal choice.

    One isn’t more mature just because you have $100 to drop at a series, chronologically or emotionally. If we’re talking about spending $100 on a form of entertainment, is that really a sign of maturity? No. It just means one is more willing to spend money on a frivolous bit of popular culture. lol
    I’m sure that even those with steady incomes might not be willing to spend that much on entertainment either… I myself would rather save that money to go to Japan and spend it on the orginal volumes instead…

  59. Anonymous says:


    Because the readership in the west simply isn’t mature.

    Err, that’s false, actually. The readership isn’t rich.
    The overwhelming majority of people have steady jobs, and still cannot just randomly decide to spend 100 bucks, especially these days, where we face layoffs, reduced wages, and the serious risk of losing the job.

    Sorry that not everyone is white&male&middle class with 100+ unspent dollars each month…

  60. Melissa says:

    Coming in late and caffeine-deficient at the moment, but just wanted to say that I’d be delighted to pay up front for a manga that I like if that would guarantee getting the whole thing. I’d say my limit would be about $100, like Erica. I’m a completist, so I collect whole series; I wouldn’t mind paying up-front for that, even if it isn’t cheaper, because (if nothing else) it would be an easier way to get the whole series.

    @Anonymous: I cannot begin to imagine what being white, male, or middle-class has to do with being willing to spend money on a product you want.

  61. Katherine says:

    Another late comment… ^^; I would probably go for the $50 or $60 models. Even though I would be getting essentially the same bang for my buck with each model (but paying slightly more per page with the $75 model), my main concern would be that a higher page count per volume beyond a certain limit would make the manga more cumbersome to read. (Which is why I don’t normally like the omnibus editions of manga.) And with more volumes at a lower total price (even if it isn’t any cheaper per page than the higher-priced plans), I would feel like I’m getting more for my money, even if I’m really not. lol But yes, I would be willing to get an entire series if I already knew that I liked it and if it wasn’t too long. (I wouldn’t be willing to get, say, ten volumes of the same series at once.)

  62. Nora Kitchen says:

    Actually, there are very few variables. I had though the different page count, size and number of volumes would indicate that they are different series.

    Whoa there! Good thing I skimmed through the comments, because I was on the completely wrong track. I thought you were basically asking, ‘You want series A, would you be most willing to put down $50, $60, $75 for such-and-such page count for each?’ I know you *said* it’s not the same series in your post, but I guess I just must have forgotten that as I read on. I guess cause it’s hard to tell initially why you’re making that distinction, and since I couldn’t understand the importance of it I just forgot it, heheh.

    So you’re really asking (if I understood right this time?), ‘You want something similar to niche Vertical series A, something like Dark Horse series B, and probably more kiddie TP series C. Would you be more willing to pay $50 for 5 volumes of C, $60 for 4 of B, or $75 for 3 of A?’

    In which case, when I was employed, (and ignoring shipping costs for a second) I’d have been willing to put down any of those, especially knowing a manga might not make it to the US without preorders. As things are currently…I admit there’s a series I’d still scrape together $75 for, but besides that, I’d have to say no to any of them (just as I have to say no to most new manga in general. ^_^;)

    Though if I’d still been under the wrong impression about what you were asking, I’d have said ‘I’d rather do $50, because then I can use that extra $25 I didn’t spend to try other varieties of manga, and because I like thin, more portable volumes better’ without realizing I was apparently implying to you that I’d rather pay $50 for a (probably) more kiddie series than $60 or $75 for a more mature one. So be careful what you take away from your results, as I think a lot of people may have also gotten lost in the, er, rules. It’s a lot to process, and I think the tendency for one’s mind to drop info one doesn’t process the importance of isn’t something specific to me, heheh.

    (Heheheh, actually as I read it, I remember thinking, ‘Oh dear, this is a lot. Lots of people are going to misunderstand what’s being asked.’ And now here I am. *hangs head* ^_^;)

  63. BruceMcF says:

    Ashrie said…
    I didn’t assume you were talking about adult manga. If it’s a niche title, then sure, people are going to commit a bit more of their wallet for the series. But, reality is, with the economy such as it is, people see $50 or even $60, and take those over larger price ranges, regardless of “value”. People aren’t going to care they get 1350 pages for a bigger amount VS 1000 pages if all they can spend at the time is $50-$60. Smaller price range = most viable option. The market may very well be aware of the “value” of larger page counts, but if one doesn’t have $75+ at hand to spend on “extra expenses” from their weekly budget, then it’s not going to work.

    That’s how the “launch pre-order” ticker works … if enough people can’t (or won’t) commit to the launch pre-order, then it doesn’t launch.

    If the $75/3x450pp price point does not “work” for very many pieces, then it doesn’t. What this would do is to explore the market with specific series on offer to find those for which it does work.

  64. I’d be willing for the $50 for 5 up front version – I just have a really hard time swallowing the idea of paying $75 dollars for three books, especially because I almost never buy hardcover – its just too expensive, and I don’t have that kind of money. Not only that, I have no idea whether I’ll even like the series or not, so it’d be a greater economic loss for me if it was a stinker in that model.

  65. moritheil says:

    This model is actually being followed by new magazines (they take pledges of $20-50 with promises to send the first few issues.) I wonder how the numbers work out for them.

  66. Anonymous says:

    “Because the readership in the west simply isn’t mature. Chronologically or emotionally. There are fewer adults with stable incomes to support a grown-up manga model.”

    The comic book readership in the west is already mature enough to include enough adults with stable incomes to support Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, DC’s Vertigo, etc.

    The book readership in the west already has companies from Random House and HarperCollins to small presses successfully marketing some books to older adults, some books to teens, *and* some books to younger kids and their parents instead of relying on only one marketing strategy that reaches only one age group.

    Remember, comic books originally written in Japanese are still comic books and still books! :) There doesn’t have to be only one readership for manga in the west. ;) Before you market a title to westerners, ask yourself *which* westerners you’re targeting:

    Younger kids who prefer visual styles that closely mimic the cartoons they already enjoy watching on TV, and the parents who pay for their leisure reading?

    Teens who can’t read Japanese but enjoy pretending that they can read Japanese enough to get offended by translating Japanese into fluent English instead of the same typo-ridden “Engrish” in scanlations, and the parents who may or may not keep an eye on their leisure reading and spending?

    Older adults who have spent the last 30+ years reading both text and pages left-to-right and don’t enjoy switching back and forth between left-to-right (from one end of a line to another) and right-to-left (from one panel to another) so much (check out how D&Q flipped the panel *order* instead of the panel *art* in Tatsumi Yoshihiro’s The Push Man to accommodate left-to-right readers without flipping all of the pictures :) )?

    Some other group of younger kids, teens, and/or older adults altogether?

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