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Viz Cuts Distributors, International Sales

posted on 2002-11-20 16:04 EST
Viz continues its sweeping reorganization by ending its business relationship with FM International and Cold Cut Distribution.

Viz has eliminated two of its three manga distribution companies, retaining only Diamond Comic Distributors. Viz has also intsructed its remaining distributors not to send product outside the United States and Canada.

In an e-mail sent to end-clients and retailers today Viz stated, "While Viz is an integral part in acquiring, translating, and distributing Japanese manga and anime titles to English-speaking audiences, our current agreements with Japanese publishers limit our distribution to North America only-legally this means that Viz and its distributors cannot sell its merchandise overseas. To honor and maintain our licensing contracts, we are unable to distribute our titles worldwide and must limit our distribution to North America, at this time."

Newsrama states that, by current estimates, as much as 20% of Viz's publication run is being distributed internationally. Problems previously arose in Spain where comic shops had been ordering the Dragon Ball series through Diamond, in violation of the restrictions on Viz's license. Distribution stoped when the exclusive holder of the series' Spanish rights complained about the issue. Diamond's solicitation for Dragon Ball product has since carried a caution, stating that the products are only available for order in North America. The warning did not appear on other Viz products.

It is not known at this time if the move will result in an increase in Viz's pricing in order to compensate for the lost revenue previously generated by sales of products destined for foreign markets.

Viz earlier ended its sales directly to retailers, which makes Diamond Comic Distributors the only means by which retailers can acquire Viz Comics. Viz books, magazines, periodicals and videos will remain with their current distributors.

ICv2 interprets these moves as part of the reorganization of the company after Shueisha bought half its equity. Viz Director of Manga Sales and Marketing Dallas Middaugh said "there will be a lot of changes in what we're doing" over the next year.

Of interest is the intentional shrinking of Viz's market outlets in the face of a market explosion in manga. Dallas Middaugh called it "an opportunity to streamline things to be more efficient.

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