Discussion: Trusting Publishers

Hi guys! Sorry for not posting for a while! I didn’t really have any great ideas for a bit. Anyway…

Being a manga fan is an interesting lesson in trust.

We trust the manga publishers that give us our favored entertainment in English (or your language of choice) almost inherently. Then we get unreasonably mad when publishers cannot complete a series or shutdown due to poor sales.

These examples quickly snap our trust for that publisher in two.

But manga publishing is a business just like any other, and is susceptible to all the dangers of high-risk business models (and trust me, publishing is high-risk.)

So why do we trust manga publishers, especially when it comes to any manga over five volumes? Shouldn’t we just put our trust on the shelf and just be happy with what each publisher can afford to put out?


About Daniella Orihuela-Gruber

Daniella is a freelance manga editor and blogger. She likes collecting out of print manga and playing with her puppy. Yes, someone got her a puppy already.
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15 Responses to Discussion: Trusting Publishers

  1. lys says:

    Sorry, I laughed a little when I saw the title of this post ^^; Hmm… whether or not I trust publishers is an interesting question. I’m not sure if I do or not, but I think that’s because whether I trust them or not is irrelevant. I think I’ve said before that I don’t regret starting any of the (many) series likely doomed to remain incomplete on my shelves, so whether I think I can trust a publisher to finish a series or not doesn’t affect my buying habits.

    Still, I do appreciate when publishers are able to be open about why there are delays, cancellations, or closures (or even if they can’t say why, at least admitting that it happens). It’s a trait I liked about CMX and Tokyopop, and the lack of openness I perceive from Viz and DelRey(/Kodansha? not sure about them yet…) does bother me sometimes. (but I still buy their books!)

    • Why’d you laugh? If you don’t mind me asking.

      I find trusting publishers to finish series irrelevant too. It does help that most of the series I love that are on hiatus are due to publisher shutdowns and not poor sales. Shutdowns do make me pretty wary of smaller companies though. ^_^

      In the end though, it’s just easier to the enjoy the books and buy them as you want them/can afford them. But I made this post precisely because I’ve had people mention how much they distrust publishers before & I wanted to hear more opinions.

      • lys says:

        Heh, I laughed because I know you did(/do) work for Tokyopop, and could imagine that prompting this post, as they’re probably the least trusted manga publisher in the eyes of many fans. If they do make a comeback I hope they can regain folks’ trust/good opinion!

        • These discussion posts are usually topical questions or just stuff I’m thinking about, whether that’s due to my work or just do to my wondering about other’s opinions on manga-related topics.

          As for TOKYOPOP, it’ll be a challenge to regain people’s trust, but that’s certainly a challenge I’m looking forward to. ^_^

  2. I just hate getting 5 volumes into a 20 volume manga, and woops! the rug is pulled out from under you. It’s one thing if the company does this once or twice, but constantly or just shutting down randomly…not so much.

    • I hate it too, but some companies can’t help being shut down. Any company without a larger parent publisher is at risk. And even if you have a parent company, that’s no promise that they won’t shut you down. (Like DC did to CMX.)

  3. hamster428 says:

    Sometimes it matters sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve bought a few incomplete series knowing they’re incomplete and will likely remain that way (such as Swan, Nodame) just because I’m thankful to have what I can get. But there are a few other series I got because I trust that I can get the whole lot (like the 3-in-1 Kekkaishi) and now I think I might be screwed over because I can’t find the listing for its next volume. In general though I trust VIZ more than most to see through to their series. Dark Horse, I’m kind of iffy about. I didn’t buy their Magic Knight Rayearth omnibus because it seemed like the 2nd volume was in limbo somewhere. I ebayed the old Tokyopop edition instead.

    • Hmmm. The thing about the Kekkaishi 3-in-1 is that a huge chunk of Kekkaishi single volumes have been released. They might have thought there were enough sales to justify making omnibus editions for the whole series, but maybe everyone who wanted Kekkaishi had pretty much already bought it.

      As for Dark Horse, I’ve noticed that they don’t drop series that often. They do take forever to put out the next volume, but once they can manage it, they do it. I trust that they’ll put out the second volume of Magic Knight Rayearth eventually.

    • lys says:

      I thought Viz’s 3-in-1 editions were a means to introduce people to the series, with the assumption that they’d go on to buy the single volumes for the rest of the series. So I don’t see that as a breach of trust so much… but maybe they should explicitly say that they’re only doing the omnibus through v9 or whatever, so readers know what to expect.

      • You know, that’s a good point. I don’t know if Viz is actually doing that, but if they are, that certainly explains why some omnibus editions seem to stop after awhile…

        If they’re doing that, they should definitely be clearer about it.

      • hamster428 says:

        Is that what it is? I totally didn’t know that. Well there goes one dropped series for me >_< because it was one of those long series which I don't like enough to go through the hassle of collecting and paying for individual volumes. The omnibus edition offered a cost and effort-friendly way to collect it.

  4. Zeether says:

    It’s hard for me to trust a couple of publishers mostly because some series for them take priority over series I appreciate. Tokyopop I never trusted period after reading Initial D and stopping after being disgusted with their translation, and because of them shutting down series such as Aria that I know people loved will likely never be finished.

    I do have respect for Kodansha USA but I question their approach to whether or not to continue Del Rey titles, because series like Suzuka and School Rumble which were only a few volumes from ending are left hanging. Seven Seas is also a company I’m kind of mixed on because they haven’t continued Hayate X Blade (which is more of an ordeal with the Japanese publisher shifting than anything)

    Viz is probably the one publisher I cannot trust because they often cancel series, and their cancellation of Gintama makes me wonder if they care about things that aren’t DBZ, Naruto, One Piece, or Bleach. Sure, they release Hayate The Combat Butler still, but at a very slow rate, and it makes me worry that it will finally get the axe and no other publisher can pick it up as a result, again due to Japanese publishers.

    It is hard to trust publishers these days especially after the recession because it’s usually all about sales, and the series you want licensed (I would KILL for Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou or Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer from any publisher) may not be considered potential big sellers in that company’s eyes.

    • Of course series that sell are more important to publishers than series that do poorly or even just not as well. How do you think a publisher is able to publish the series you love? And, quite frankly, if you drop support for a poor selling series, chances are that is really going to hurt that series you love rather than make it look better in the publisher’s eyes.

      As for TOKYOPOP, I do work for them right now, but the books I’ve worked on in the recent past haven’t been largely rewritten and the translations are pretty good. That’s just my opinion as an editor in general. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Aria yet, but again, it was a poor seller. If TOKYOPOP’s license rescue from ADV still didn’t sell enough books for regular publication, it’s not the publisher’s fault.

      Kodansha and Viz have the same problem as I mentioned above. They may be making money off their big titles, but that doesn’t always justify the smaller titles. But they do try, even if it means taking forever to release the next volume. That same reason is why they can’t always license the titles you would kill for. If we had a huge manga reading population like Japan does, publishers would definitely bring those titles over.

  5. Ed Sizemore says:

    Unless a company gives me a reason otherwise, my tendency is to trust them. Do poor selling series get cancelled? Sure, but that’s no different than any other book publisher.

    Viz published all 12 volumes of Tezuka’s Phoenix at a loss, because they believed so passionately in the series. Dark Horse is still putting out MPD Pyscho and Oh My Goddess. Heck, Yen Press released volume 5 of ICHIROH! this year.

    Most companies will keep a series going as long as they can justifiy the expense. If a long running series gets cancelled you can bet it’s only after a few volumes have been printed at a loss.

    Most manga companies haven’t really given me a reason stop trusting them. Viz and Dark Horse have been around long enough that they deserve a little credit. Yen Press is under the umbrella of a well respected publisher and I doubt they’ll be allowed to get too crazy. Kodansha is a wild horse for now, but the parent company is one of the oldest publishers in Japan and I don’t think they’d put their name on something they weren’t fully committed to. So I’m good for now.

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