Thoughts on the state of the manganet

The basket by the guillotine of the Manga Revolution is overflowing with the heads of the innocent – functionality, aesthetics, language, organization. Yes, I’m talking about Tokyopop’s new web site design, and I don’t really have anything to add that other people haven’t already said. I will note that I’ve bookmarked the Shop link, as it’s the only place to find reasonably orderly title information, and it spares me the MySpace horror of it all.

But it seems like a good reason to check out some other publishers’ sites and see how they’re holding up.

Viz’s site is a little heavy on the animation for my tastes. It doesn’t seem to hamper functionality or loading times too much, but I get nervous when a bunch of things are scrolling and popping and shifting without my input. The site has fairly comprehensive title information, but I do wish it had an A-Z listing of their books in addition to the brand breakdown it currently employs. The Books link at the on-line shop does organize titles alphabetically, which is a step in the right direction.

So, you have one title that earned tons of critical acclaim last year and another that’s been reviewed in a high-circulation pop-culture magazine. Do you include information on either on your web site? If you’re ADV, the answer is no. That’s just crazy. Of course, the site hasn’t been updated since 2004, so I guess pointing out the absence of two titles is moot.

I’ve never been crazy about Del Rey’s site. The listing on the Series page is a little disorganized, but at least the information is up to date. The site also has a good search system which always seems to yield comprehensive results. (Del Rey is planning a focus group event in the Los Angeles area August 11 for manga fans age 13 and up. Details are at the link above.)

CMX’s site doesn’t exactly set my heart on fire, but it could be worse. I think every comic publisher should have an obvious link to a complete list of the titles they have in print, and I’m not sure if the On Sale button communicates that as clearly as it could, but at least the information is there, only one layer off of the front.

I like Go! Comi’s web presence. It’s got a nice design, and it’s organized well. I particularly like the fact that the company blog is right up front. It’s a friendlier, more casual way of spreading the word on recent developments, though there’s an up-to-date news section as well. It’s just a nice site that reflects the company’s high production values.

Digital Manga Publishing almost seems like it could break its front page down into smaller subdivisions. It’s a lot of scrolling from the top down to the listing of titles currently on sale, though part of me appreciates that the information is right up front. DMP has a good quantity of information on its line of titles, and they are listed alphabetically, but I keep coming back to the usefulness of an alphabetical list of everything on one page. DMP’s use of images with each link to a title probably makes that impossible, and those images could be a nice feature for someone doing general browsing rather than looking for specific details.

The site for Seven Seas may be a little busy visually for my taste, but it’s very navigable and is updated frequently. There’s always something new to look at, which is essential for a publisher that traffics in webcomics. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Netcomics site has a lot of the same features and strengths. (Is it weirdly nitpicky to note that both publishers make good use of drop-down menus? It probably is, but they do.)

Dark Horse doesn’t compartmentalize its manga offerings, but there are a number of ways to look for titles, and the information is pretty comprehensive. I wish Fanfare/Ponent Mon’s site was easier to navigate, and I don’t really like that you can’t link directly to information about a specific title. That’s a personal pet peeve as a blogger who would like to point readers to their books, though. Ice Kunion’s site has improved dramatically since the last time I looked. It’s a nice redesign, though it loads a bit slowly for me.

8 Responses to Thoughts on the state of the manganet

  1. David Taylor says:

    Excellent idea. ^.^

    And I completely agree with the Go! Comi reference. If I did need to pick a hole somewhere you could say that their site runs well because of the relatively small number of titles on offer.
    But with what I’ve seen so far I’m sure they got a plan for that too. ^.^

    Dark Horse is a weird one for me. I like their message boards, they can be useful but there isn’t always an obvious way to find titles. What they do have though is one of the best search engines on their site which means everything is only just a quick type of the title away.

  2. David Welsh says:

    That’s a good point about Go! Comi, though it’s nice that they have a solid infrastructure in place for new titles as they’re added to the line.

    And I couldn’t agree more about the importance of a good search engine. They can lead me to forgive a multitude of other web site sins and can paper over all kinds of navigation problems.

  3. John Jakala says:

    AIIIYYYEEEE!! My eyes!!! Good lord, Tokyopop’s new site design is horrific! And why does clicking the top-level “Manga” button take me to fan-submitted manga? You have to click the smaller “Books” link on the left to find the actual manga Tokyopop publishes. I agree with David Taylor’s comments that the new site gives the impression that Tokyopop doesn’t know what it wants to be. (Or maybe they do know what they want to be and I just have no interest in that direction.)

    I like Dark Horse’s site, but that might be in part simply because it’s been around longer so I’ve grown used to it. Their search feature is pretty good, as David T. pointed out. (I use their search quite often to find out how long the latest volume of OH MY GODDESS is going to be delayed *this* time around…)

  4. Lyle says:

    CMX’s “website” always struck me as a further example of how DC doesn’t seem to get the bookstore audience, as it’s template seems pulled from the DC/Vertigo websites, which emphasizes the periodicals and what’s coming out this week. They’ve made some slight changes (older releases used to disappear after a few months, like with their periodicals) but the lack of a summary page for each title is glaring.

  5. Anonymous says:

    You missed Broccoli’s. *pout* http://www.broccolibooks.com.

    -Ardith

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head for most of the pages (though you’ve missed a few of the smaller ones, like DramaQueen, CPM, Media Blasters, and Vertical). But I do slightly object to the Viz review; they don’t make it easy to find, but they do have a page with everything you were looking for:

    http://www.viz.com/products/browse.php?by=all

  7. David Wise says:

    A plan for the day when Go! Comi has more than 12 titles? Of course we have one! Uh huh. You bet. …Ulp…Choke…!

    :::::Runs off in blind panic to devise plan:::::

  8. Kona says:

    Just like to say how refreshing it is to see a witty and literate passage on the Internet. “The basket…heads of the innocent…” Nice metaphorical style! Thought the subject title might lead to a discussion about the possibility of major publishers releasing their series online, but I guess I’m ahead of my time.

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