There’s news from Publisher’s Weekly, and it’s kind of flown under the radar in most of the manga blogosphere. Shueisha and Shogakukan—the two Japanese publishers that own the American-based manga publisher Viz Media—have entered into a new partnership to expand the company’s licensing and mechandising arm. Shueisha has invested in Shogakukan Productions Inc. or Sho-Pro, Shogakukan’s licensing and merchandising unit, which will be renamed Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions Co., Ltd. to reflect the new joint venture. Viz is now poised to take more control of the licening and development process because this new company will provide the various property rights in a unified form.
In a time when people are wondering if we’re about to hit a “bubble” in the anime/manga industry, I think this news is a great of example of how a company with good strategy is still doing well and expanding their operations.
TokyoPop’s recent announcement of restructuring and layoffs was big news, and i wrote about it in detail in my Tokyopop’s Challenges article at IGN. In that article, I concluded that while the American publishing industry as a whole is suffering, much of TokyoPop’s troubles are their own damn fault for placing quantity over quality and putting subpar products against what Viz and Del Rey are offering in the market.
The Viz Media CEO has said that they will also be active in developing the digital distribution of anime and in the future, manga properties. The new company will also bring manga derived chapter books and picture books for the U.S. market. This goes right with what TokyoPop is looking to do, but I have a feeling that Viz will once again be more successful. They’re just better at executing their plans, and they have proven their ability to bring what’s hot in Japan over to the U.S.
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