Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

June 4, 2008

More On Tokyopop Re-Structuring

I'm not sure there's a whole lot to say about the re-structuring at Tokyopop, at least not yet. It was announced yesterday morning that the publisher will split into two entities. One will focus on film work and digital distribution of manga. The other will be the publishing unit and will carry forward the publisher's work in that area, although at a greatly reduced output. Several people at the company were let go (39 out of 100), which is always a shame. This will likely and logically have a ripple effect in their freelance creator and support services pool as well. Still, I don't know anyone that thinks Tokyopop wouldn't have to make some changes at some point given 1) the work's overall quality and ability to find an audience, 2) Tokyopop's occasional rough time when it came to packaging and promoting such work professionally and effectively, 3) the tide turning against shelving all such works no matter what, and 4) the legitimate importance of digital distribution of such works in the months ahead.

imageIt's weird to examine such a story in that if you're used to covering comics companies that might occasionally be hit hard in Direct Market, there's usually some sort of malfeasance or ritual abuse in that market or by its biggest players that you can point towards as an unfair thing. Like when Fantagraphics canceled a lot of solo comics titles in the middle 1990s, it was clear that it was put in that position by an extremely volatile and hostile marketplace made that way in great part by companies like DC and Marvel. In cases like that, you can sort of wave your flag on behalf of the wrong being done, and because the distribution entity entire is relatively intimate, speculate about the potential impact on the whole system. It's harder to do that in book publishing, although with Borders shedding personnel and a future of digital rights publishing looking like it will come without the comforting and profitable-to-many infrastructure that's developed around print, it's hard not to be slightly disturbed by strong moves like this one. In fact, you could look at Tokyopop as another specialty publisher having to make changes or risk dying off altogether, and not much of a unique news story at all.

Here's some writing on the matter:

* Anime News Network
* Christopher Butcher
* MangaBlog 01
* MangaBlog 02
* Official Press Release
* Publishers Weekly
* Shuchaku East
* Variety
posted 8:20 am PST | Permalink

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