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Interview: Kurt Hassler

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Joined: 25 Mar 2008
Posts: 135
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:40 am Reply with quote
This is a good read. I'm pretty far behind on those Yen Plus issues...they're my sisters (cough), but I've liked the spread of the different manga in there.

I like the behind the scenes, and it's always good to hear how the industry is doing as a whole.
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Joined: 20 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:04 am Reply with quote
Are you doing any co-promotion with Bandai Entertainment?

We have talked to Bandai. We're just sort of looking at what the best areas are. Since Bandai already has their material in the market, it's a little tougher, but they've provided us with some material for the web. We're preparing to launch a website that will count down to the book release.

What book is Mr Hassler referring to here? The implication is that it has something to do with Haruhi, but both the comic and the novel have already been released…

EDIT: Perhaps this page, which counts down to the release of the second novel? Seems like an odd thing to count down to, but okay.

How do you see the consumer changing in the next five years?

…Print is still print and it's hard to replicate. I think you'll see, in terms of online initiatives from publishers, I think you'll see real strategies evolve in that arena in a way that they are not out there now.

I wonder what he's speaking of here. If he's referring to the "e-manga" projects some distributors have come out with, he's being contradictory, no? I don't want to read comics with a stupid Flash app inside a web browser on my computer. (At least give me a PDF or something else I can print out.) Print is print, indeed, and comics lose a lot when they're not printed.

Anyway, it's interesting to see Mr Hassler speak about his job as a buyer. Surely the fact that he knows what such people want to hear has been at least part of the reason Yen Press has achieved its level of success in such a short time.
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Joined: 22 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:08 am Reply with quote
While I haven't been a consumer of Yen Press's stuff in the past, I will be once Yotsuba&! starts coming out. I was hoping this article would have a bit more info about it. :-/ Oh well.

Oh, and I said to my mother yesterday, technology may change the way we watch tv (Youtube, Hulu), movies (Netflix online), or even read (Kindle), I *still* want my physical media, and I know I'm not alone there. Technology has failed before, it will fail again. Books don't crash. Smile
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Location: Atlanta, GA
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:23 am Reply with quote
Holy cow, this man is my hero. Very Happy
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Joined: 19 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:30 am Reply with quote
Yay!! I actually wasn't planning to read this until I heard it was Yen Press-related. =D

I bought their first issue way back when and have been really excited ever since, I'm only missing one issue and sincerely wish there was a way to get back copies.... T-T (Pretty please?)

Anyway, it was neat hearing about Haruhi-- I'm sure plenty of people were wondering how such a new group managed to snag such an amazing title.

Anyway, I love Yen and this was a very interesting interview!! Nice to come on ANN and see that. =D
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Joined: 04 Jun 2009
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Location: Texas
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 9:49 am Reply with quote
I was a little worried since a relatively-new company was getting all these titles that I like, but after reading this I feel reassured that they know what they're doing. The realization as a company that you have to be very selective about what you pick up is no small thing in today's anime & manga market, due to all the competition from fansubs and scanlations. Yen Press seems to have good heads on their shoulders in that regard, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they do in the future.
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Richard J.

Joined: 11 Aug 2006
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Location: Sic Semper Tyrannis.
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:09 am Reply with quote
The parts of this article I found most interesting: First, the fact that he's so optimistic about the Haruhi light novels. I'm extremely surprised to read that he expects them to outsell the manga by such a wide margin. (Especially since the manga has sold fairly well by what I've read.)

Other manga companies putting out light novels have had varying and mostly poor success with them. (VIZ, Tokyopop and Seven Seas seem to have mostly dropped them and Dark Horse seems to be doing relatively well, though not great.) When Yen Press and Little Brown first announced them, I was extremely happy but concerned they'd drop them quickly. With this, I feel much less worried.

Second, I fully (though grudgingly) admit to him being right about needing the adaptions of Western work. While I personally find most of those to be of poor quality, ESPECIALLY Tokyopop's efforts, Yen Press seems to be trying harder to put out a quality product in this regard. Also, Mr. Hassler's reasoning is completely sound and logical. He's one of the few people who really seems to get that you can't just rely on otaku for sales, you need new people to be brought into the fandom all the time.

Third, I was very pleased to see him say "We will support everything we have licensed" since the last company I was buying from heavily screwed me out of numerous series, some before they even released them. (Thanks Seven Seas. Rolling Eyes )

It's great to hear someone who isn't all doom and gloom, someone who actually seems to understand some of the basic necessities of keeping a company going and just plain has common sense. I've never understood some of the decisions coming out of the big manga publishers, espcially Tokyopop. Sometimes I think the anime and manga companies want to kill themselves.

Yen Press seems to be running itself very well and they seem to have a clear idea of what they want to do. They also have, I believe, some of the highest quality product available. (I love their 4-Koma titles especially but that's just me!)
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Location: Seattle, WA
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 11:59 am Reply with quote
Really nice interview, I enjoyed reading it. And didn't know that Cirque du Freak's manga was already done i Japan, I was assuming it was something they were comissioning ala Maximum Ride and Twilight. Now I'm even MORE interested in picking it up.
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Joined: 11 Oct 2007
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Location: Canada
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 3:55 pm Reply with quote
Perhaps he was talking about The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan when he spoke about the Haruhi in it s entirety.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:05 pm Reply with quote
I'm very surprised on how his whole outlook in light novels are. I hope his postive thinking and ideas will bring light novels back to the grave (even though there still a few light novels continuing in the U.S.). Heck this gives me hope that the Baccano light novel might come to the U.S. but thats just little hope. I hope he figures out something brilliant to market this well, hmmph I'd like to see it happen.
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Joined: 30 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:55 am Reply with quote
This was a very interesting read.

I just recently discovered Yen Press when I picked up a volume of Spiral at the library. I have to say, I really like what they did. They seem to give off an underground "hey, we're manga fans too!" type of feel that bigger companies like Viz tend to lose.

Definitely looking forward to more of their releases in the future.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 4:15 am Reply with quote
I currently buy almost everything that Yen press puts out, at least in the Shojo/Shoujo side. The one thing I don't buy is Maximum Ride. But I like Yen Press because:

1) It releases on schedule, in fact it releases to distributors ahead of schedule. So I can order from and get Aug 4th books now. For someone who is housebound due to a disability, having a reliable release date is important something I have been disappointed with in every other company including Dark Horse with the recent Pop illustration series and Tokyopop.

2) It has a large selection of Yuri Titles. If you like Yuri humor, basically get any of the titles from Yen press like S. S. Astro and there will be at least one character who brings in Yuri humor. There are many Yuri magazines and titles in japan who is finding it as interesting as Yaoi and since Seven Seas has all but dropped it, I am glad that Yen press is releasing it.

3) It has complex Korean and Japanese titles that take many volumes to come to full drama and they are committed to publishing them. For example Cynical Orange I did not get at first because I expected, like so many other presses for them to just stop part way through. They haven't and it isn't until the sixth, seventh volumes that the world created in the first four is deconstructed in the achingly emotional and also intellectual way that Click did for Netcomic (as one example).

4) They have saved almost every cult series I have. Indeed I have had to buy back some of the series as I had simply given up on them being finished, from Angel Diary to Yotsuba. They seem to know quality and they go after it.

5) They print Yaoi also but of the most popular artists, the Mr. Flower Bride and Mr. Flower Groom printed by Yen Press occur at the same time an art book of Lily Hoshino is available from Japan (Indeed I have the book and said, "That art picture isn't any I have seen published" - now I Mr. Flower Groom). Also look at the upcoming, Tale of the Waning Moon (sept).

6) They are publishing Spice and Wolf!!

7) They published With the Light - with the growing awareness of autism spectrum disorder, having the conviction to print a manga on disability issues has opened the door for books like Translucent and Real (Wheelchair Basketball). I tell people, "If you can't find yourself in western literature, look to manga: girls in sports, autism, yuri, - whoever you are, manga has you there! (plus they are doing high quality western artists like Nightschool)
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:57 am Reply with quote
Between the manga and the light novels, which one do you expect to sell more, by what kind of ratios?

Ratios are hard to say. I expect the novel is going to outsell the manga, which is aggressive since the manga has already been a best seller in the market. It's been hugely successful even in a year when everyone is sort of trembling. I do expect that the novels are going to do better than the manga. Ultimately, the goal is to drive fans between the two mediums. In the novel, there is an excerpt of the manga; in the first volume of the manga, there is an excerpt of the novel.


Light novels can be done, and it IS being done! So instead of sitting on your thumbs waiting for the market to change in your favor; how about you help make that change!


Since that's out of me now, I loved the interview. I only wish the interviewer asked Mr. Hassler about his opinion on Nymphet; and what he said and his reaction AS A BUYER for borders at the time (was he the buyer when that happenend?)
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