Comics as lavender-scented air

November 2, 2006

Ack! Where did the goalposts go?! While it seems like bookstores are the Promised Land for graphic novel publishers, prose houses and imprints are increasingly finding that Borders and Barnes & Noble are so last year, at least according to this fascinating piece in the New York Times (free registration required).

The new retailers of choice, it seems, are places like Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware, and Starbucks:

“With book sales sagging — down 2.6 percent as of August over the same period last year, according to the Association of American Publishers — publishers are pushing their books into butcher shops, carwashes, cookware stores, cheese shops, even chi-chi clothing boutiques where high-end literary titles are used to amplify the elegant lifestyle they are attempting to project.”

A lot of familiar names crop up in the course of the article, many with graphic novel imprints or partnerships with graphic novel publishers. Simon & Schuster, which handles distribution for Viz, has been making the most of the new trend:

“In the last four years Simon & Schuster’s special market sales, as they are called, have grown by 50 percent, surpassing total sales to independent bookstores, said Jack Romanos, the publishing house’s president and chief executive.”

And some chains are taking the initiative to fold books into their shopping experience:

“Martin & Osa, a new clothing retailer aimed at 25-to-40-year-olds, stocks dozens of titles in its four stores and is planning to add more, including a ‘reading list’ of graphic novels [emphasis mine], fiction and nonfiction for customers. ‘We try to offer them things that aren’t mainstream, more unusual, more unique,’ said Arnie Cohen, the chief marketing officer.”

Is it the next big thing for graphic novel publishers? I have no idea, but it seems like an idea with potential. Viz just announced a special deal with Hot Topic for Bleach merchandise, so why not actually put copies of the manga in the store?


Civics

November 2, 2006

Civic-mindedness seems to be the theme of the day in the manga blogosphere today.

Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing ponders the recent SF Weekly piece on yaoi and its consideration of a potential conservative backlash against the category, then moves on to remind publishers of every stripe that they have a vested interest in protecting and promoting freedom of expression:

“Most people bring up the First Amendment only when their own rights are at stake. They support majority rule as long as they’re in the majority, they are okay with exceptions as long as they are not the ones being excluded. Is it really difficult to see the fallacy of this kind of thinking? It doesn’t take courage to be part of the crowd. Popular ideas don’t need to be defended from the masses, as they don’t come under attack by the masses.”

At MangaBlog, poll volunteer Brigid wants to make sure everyone’s ready for next Tuesday’s election:

“Every year there are stories of people who are turned away from the polls or have their votes stolen in some way. (Don’t believe me? Check here and here for updates on election issues.) A bit of advance work can prevent a lot of hassles.”

At MangaCast, Ed Chavez freely expresses his appreciation of the improved web sites of DrMaster and Infinity Studios:

“Have they both simultaneously figured out that communication with their small fan base will be the key to their futures. Either way site improvements are one of many steps both groups need to take to keep and expand their readership. Both of these pubs have many other hurdles to overcome.”

Love Manga’s David Taylor relocates to a different precinct, joining the MangaCasters, but exercises his right to appreciate DramaQueen’s new Rush anthology before he closes the shutters:

“So that left me pondering what should I write about on my last post here, and well I‘d thought I’d talk about one title that has been published this year which made an impression or just stood out for me. Boy that was a stupid idea.”

Speaking of manga that stands out, PopCultureShock’s Katherine Dacey-Tsuei reminds us that, sure, Vertical’s release of Osamu Tezuka’s Ode to Kirihito is amazing, but Viz – Signature’s production of Tezuka’s Phoenix is separate but almost equal:

“Do you have a friend who won’t touch a comic book unless a New York Times critic pronounces it a ‘brilliant graphic novel’ by a ‘major artist’? Well, I have the manga for you.”