I was trying to refrain from armchair-quarterbacking the Tokyopop contraction because I think when people who do good work lose their jobs no amount of “Well they should have done this differently!” is terribly appropriate, but there’s so much stupidity in response to this announcement on fan forums and comments sections (“They totally should have published Harry Potter manga!”) that I figured I’d try and put something less offensive out there. Apologies in advance, should I fail.
+ A reorganization is considerably better than bankruptcy protection, and I know a few people who thought that was what was coming down the pipe. Which isn’t to say that it won’t, but it hasn’t, and there’s a big difference.
+ 39 employees are being laid off out of a staff of about 100, but that number doesn’t take into account the massive number of freelancers who do translating, lettering and touch-up, etc., that are also going to be out of work. That’s a lot of people affected and that sucks.
+ A cut of releases by 50%. That could mean an overall cut of books (volumes) by 50%, or a cut of individual titles by 50%. Those are two very different things, with various titles on annual, twice, thrice, or four-times annual releases, removing half of the titles wouldn’t necessarily remove half of the releases. This figure is very unclear from their press release or related comment, so let’s talk about the two possibilities:
If it’s titles:
- + The vitriol directed at Tokyopop for their OEL program is just short of fucking nuts. If you’re a nerd that upset that Tokyopop is publishing anything other than sourced-from-Japan manga, you really need to get your fucking priorities straight.
- + Related: The insane fear and anger that “everything cut will be Japanese manga, and they’re only going to publish “Amerimanga which I hate!!” Again, priorities…
- + Related again: They’ve probably paid the licenses for most of the Japanese books already. Tokyopop’s original work, as we learned last week, is generally paid for when Tokyopop accepts the work from the authors and prints it… So if one book is paid for and one they don’t have to pay for unless they print it (but they’ll still own anyway), which do you think is going to see print?
EDIT JUNE 6TH, 2008: On Wednesday June 5th TP publisher Mike Kiley sent out a note to Tokyopop OEL creators stating that their work would continue to be published, and that they would be paid for their work. I am curious to see how this shakes out. You can see a copy of the e-mail at The Beat.
- It’s all about the bookstore sales (see below).
If it’s actually their total output:
- + Tokyopop has solicited books in the book trade through the end of the year so far at approximately 50 books per month, which very clearly means that some solicited books are not coming out this year (if ever).
- + A cut of releases by 50% for 2008. Well in January through May they released something like 200 books, right? If they release 500 or so books in a year, does that mean you’re going to see 50 books from Tokyopop between now and December? Because…
- + The manga licensing fees are generally already paid for, and translation and lettering usually happens months in advance. If they’ve got the next two-three months worth of books done, and they’re cutting their production in half or more, they could just re-stagger the release schedule and release the next three months of solicited books between now and Christmas.
- + Hell, they could only release the immediately profitable books from the next three months of their production and space them out for the rest of the year and that would hit the “250 books” number… There’s your worst case scenario.
+ Simon Jones at Icarus points out that the division of publishing and media into separate companies could mean better publishing contracts and being a better publisher. That’s very optimistic and I do not agree.
+ Tokyopop and Viz are releasing 40-50 books a month! That’s insane! Even Del Rey, which in every single discussion I’ve heard is being touted as the new ‘second’ to Viz’s top spot–is only releasing 8-12 books in an average month, and fully half of them would be what you would consider “top tier” licenses. Cannibalization at retail indeed.
+ Borders and Barnes & Noble have stopped ordering certain manga titles for the shelf entirely. I think it’s pretty obvious that anything not getting immediate bookstore distro won’t get continued, considering the book market counts for something like 75% of sales of certain titles.
+ Hell, I’m pretty sure that at one point TP wouldn’t even license a title if Borders wasn’t going to order a bunch of it… I know I’ve been told that, but I can’t remember if anyone ever said it in print or not…
The following is all in response to: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/bbs/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=60188
+ A gentle reminder: Just because something is good does not mean it sells well or will not be canceled outright.
+ …and just to reiterate, just because something has been solicited does not mean it is coming out.
+ Some mensa member deriding TP for publishing too many “fanworks”. As opposed to, you know, graphic novels. Unreal. I wonder if they realize that they’re part of the problem?
+ Said mensa member does have a point about the absolute uselessness of Tokyopop’s website. I honestly do not understand why they would have a website that actually makes it difficult to find their own product. Scratch that, I do understand, but they’re wrong for doing it.
+ “If we’re going to point fingers, then point them first at the people who go in and read manga at the store, but don’t buy (and I’m not talking one or two titles, I mean they do this EVERY chance they get).” also: internet thieves. Good point “darcerin“.
+ “It seems they’re not licencing as much from Japan as they used to, and what they do licence is mediocre. I suspect because they don’t have to pay translators etc for OEL, but they can sell it for the same price, ergo more profit. In theory anyways.” – This bit of business theory courtesy of st_owly. I know I can stop reading at any time and that this stupid shit is corroding my soul, but this potent combination of fan-entitlement and outright stupidity is what keeps my righteous indignation going.
+ Holy shit, it’s actual content courtesy of ex-Tokyopop staffer Peter Ahlstrom:
“The final volume of Grenadier already went to press, so no worries there. I really don’t know for sure what titles will be sticking around, but a large percentage of the axed titles will be Korean titles because those have been selling poorly. I would not be surprised to see Rebirth discontinued. Beck has also underperformed, but only time will tell.
“If I were still working there, I would probably know sooner. :) I hope the titles I loved working on will be spared, because I at least want to keep collecting them.“
+ “It’s bad enough Levy is still on board, so this means we’re probably gonna be subjected to more Princess Ai in the future.” I’m almost with you there kid, but seeing as it’s Levy’s company I imagine he’ll be around for a little while…
+ I don’t claim to have all the answers here, but I’m just constantly amazed by the indignation of children without two clues to rub together making these entirely baseless pronouncements… On that note, here’s three amazing pieces of wrong from the same quote from “Grico“:
“Yeah, I think the biggest worry for me is that they might decide to focus on the OEL books since they are much cheaper to make. … some things might stick until the license runs out to try to recoup costs (I’m thinking of the American licensed stuff here like Familiy Guy). It will be interesting to see if there are any license sales to other manga companies, such as when ADV sold off the Tactics anime license.“
Dear “Grico”: OEL are not ‘cheaper’, Tokypop has produced exactly one Family Guy Cine-manga… in 2004, and ADV did not sell of the Tactics anime license, they “sold off” the manga license, and even then they didn’t “sell it off” so much as it expired and Tokypop licensed it from the original Japanese publisher. Congrats, you’ve made the worst post I’ve read so far.
+ Another genius (from Texas!) demands that TP embrace Wal-Mart, and sell everything at cost because manga and anime are too expensive. Bravo.
+ In the defense of this message board, there are a lot of kind people popping up expressing sympathy for the folks losing their jobs, which is really heartening.
So there, there’s my attempt to stem the tide of disinformation, for all the good it will do.