Tom Spurgeon points to a manga flap in Lexington, KY, involving a copy of Yuu Watase’s Absolute Boyfriend (from Viz’s Shojo Beat imprint and serialized in the magazine) in the children’s section of a Books-A-Million. I don’t really have anything much to say about the story itself, which reads like one of those “Can too much applesauce be fatal?” stories that local news outfits love so much. But Tom did make a couple of points about the Books-A-Million chain, and I wanted to chime in:
“The one thing that jumps out at me is that Book-a-Million is a big growth account for manga recently, and it’s my understanding that the chain has shown up in some towns that haven’t had a bookstore in a while. That would mean the store has increased coverage for manga in addition to simply increasing the number of outlets where it’s available.”
That was certainly the case here in north-central West Virginia. Books-a-Million was the first stand-alone chain bookstore in town, and it’s had a reasonably sized (and growing) manga section since it opened a few years back. It’s since been joined by a Barnes & Noble, which has its own substantial graphic novel/manga section.
I vaguely remember reports of Books-a-Million having a special “adult graphic novel/manga” section separate from the general population for some of the spicier, plastic-wrapped offerings, though I’ve never seen that set-up personally. And I’ve never seen manga or graphic novels shelved in the children’s section, though admittedly I don’t spend a lot of time there.
I can say without qualification that I think Absolute Boyfriend is probably the worse thing Watase has ever created, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s rated for older teens, as is a fair amount of the Shojo Beat line (or just for teens), so it sounds like it might have been carelessly shelved, if in fact it was in the children’s section.