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Manga Answerman - Do Comic Book Stores Still Hesitate To Stock Manga?


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Merxamers



Joined: 09 Dec 2013
Posts: 647
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:22 pm Reply with quote
I've had mixed experiences with manga in comic book shops, myself. When i was a college student, the local comic shop there seemed like they were almost trying to hide that they sold manga at all, and stocked them in a small shelf in the back like they were embarrassed by them. Now that i live in Michigan, i was ecstatic to find a shop there (Vault of Midnight) that puts their manga shelf front and center in the store. I used to be embarrassed to buy manga at stores, since it can seem so niche and weird to the uninitiated, but for 4 years now I've been able to walk in every week and pick up the latest volumes of Dorohedoro, Sweetness and Lightning, and Magical Girl Special Ops: Asuka all in the same order, without anyone blinking an eye.

I agree with the contributors here that fans requesting/ordering books they want can really help a shop understand what people want to buy, but it's also up to the shops to create a welcoming environment for people who want to buy manga.
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Sailor Sedna



Joined: 08 Jan 2015
Posts: 649
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 1:47 pm Reply with quote
I think it may be an old stereotype. Last time I went to a comic book shop of mine, they had a new copy of Harukana Receive which had just come out in a section where there was manga, so that tells me they still stock new manga when it comes out.
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explosionforgov



Joined: 16 Jun 2016
Posts: 80
Location: United States of America
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:17 pm Reply with quote
There's two comic book shops near me that primarily only stock Big Two superhero comics, and I have a tough time even finding my favorite non-superhero American stuff (Lumberjanes, Saga) there. Any suggestions on how to bring it up to them?
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marshmallowpie



Joined: 22 Sep 2009
Posts: 152
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:29 pm Reply with quote
I don't normally go in comic shops, but recently I visited three in hopes of finding or special ordering the Banana Fish reprints. The largest shop didn't seem to have any manga at all (although previously when walking by I had seen seen a display that was visible from the window), the smallest shop (extremely tiny) had two small shelves of the most random volumes of the most random, probably long out of print and likely unfinished series. The middle-sized one (the tiny store is a branch of this one) had a bit more, and more recent things, but very tiny compared to Chapters, and with nothing that I wanted. I guess it's pointless to compete with Chapters. However, back when I was a kid, a lot of the Tokyopop titles I'd borrow from the library had a price sticker from this store, so they must have had more back in the 00s.
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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
Posts: 1636
Location: North Brunswick, New Jersey
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:50 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
bookstores have the option to return what doesn't sell back to the distributor and get a credit for what they return


This is interesting to me, because my "local" Barnes & Noble (used to be 2nd closest, but my actual local store closed up a year or so ago) still has some older manga on the shelves, like volumes of Gundam the Origin & even Volume 1 of Mega Man Gigamix. I guess, in those cases, it just makes sense to keep them, since the credit the store would get back wouldn't be worth the costs to return them to Vertical & Udon, I guess. I certainly don't have any problems with that, though, as I finally managed to complete my Origin set from that store, & I'll eventually grab that Gigamix, one day.

As for comic shops, I honestly don't visit them too much in my area. I know of some, and they all carry manga to some extent, but I've kind of simply gotten used to going to them for comic books, not so much manga, and since I don't buy non-manga comics that often, I obviously haven't really helped out in getting those stores to adapt better. At the same time, though, online stores have also likely hurt comic shops' abilities to adjust, since I'm sure that, while there is a notable amount of fans that do prioritize purchasing manga locally, the majority of manga buyers are likely relying more on online storefronts, simply because it's easier to get any manga they want from there.
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Merxamers



Joined: 09 Dec 2013
Posts: 647
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 2:59 pm Reply with quote
explosionforgov wrote:
There's two comic book shops near me that primarily only stock Big Two superhero comics, and I have a tough time even finding my favorite non-superhero American stuff (Lumberjanes, Saga) there. Any suggestions on how to bring it up to them?


I bet they would order something for you if you requested it; that's how my shop works. If enough people are special ordering manga or other books they don't stock, they'll figure out real quick they're missing out on a sales opportunity.
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AkumaChef



Joined: 10 Jan 2019
Posts: 82
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:04 pm Reply with quote
Very interesting article. I haven't been in a comic shop in years, but I often visited them in the 90's. I was never into comics but I was into gaming, MTG from the earliest days, and Star Trek so I often went to comic shops and comic shows because they featured those things too. Back then they were some of the few places where you COULD find manga or anime because neither had hit the mainstream yet. I remember the Diamond Distributors print catalogs from that era too--most comic shops I frequented would give them out to customers for free and you could check off which issues you wanted to order. I do remember seeing anime and manga listed in those.

In the late 90's my friends and I would visit a local comic shop which had a huge video rental section, mostly nerd stuff with huge collections of sci-fi, horror, etc. They had a fantastic anime selection. I never bought any anime there, but I certainly rented a ton of it. And I remember them stocking manga as well...but that's ages since.

I'm surprised to read that some comic shops are opposed to it. I would think that manga would be an obvious crossover niche the same way that so many comic shops already deal with other niches like sports cards, CCGs, toys, tabletop gaming, Warhammer, D&D and related, miniatures, Star Wars/Star Trek, pokemon, etc. I've also heard that western print comics are in decline, so a strong revenue stream like manga seems like a great niche from a financial perspective too.
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SDnekojin



Joined: 07 Dec 2006
Posts: 6
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:31 pm Reply with quote
My local comic shop has a pretty large manga section. I feel bad for them because it doesn't really move very often. They put new releases right next to the weekly comics but I often just see them finding their way right next to the other manga without being bought.
I assume they get just enough business to keep them ordering the new things.

I, personally, would rather just wait for a sale at RightStuf to get my manga.

Manga doesn't have the same urgency to buy as American comics. When I stay up to date with American comics, I have the absolute latest story. If I stay up to date on a manga from my local shop, I'm still a year or more behind what is being published in Japan.

Sure, I could be doing more to support the industry, but my money priorities are elsewhere.
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OjaruFan2



Joined: 09 Jul 2018
Posts: 134
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:04 pm Reply with quote
My local comic shop, Comic Logic, has a small, but varied selection of manga, though most of them are series that I’m not interested in buying. I never thought to just simply request for particular series I’’d like to buy, so I’m considering doing that the next time I go there.

Quote:
In one instance, a retailer decided not to sell manga because kids just come in and sit on the floor to read it.

The problem is that North American manga publishers license a ton of manga aimed at teens/adults, but barely license manga aimed at kids. Sure there’s Pokémon, Yo-kai Watch, some Disney manga, but there’s not much else besides those.

Doraemon? Only available on Kindle, no physical release; Mysterious Joker? Not licensed; Nintendo series, such as Mario and Kirby? Other than Super Mario Adventures, Splatoon, and some Pokémon series, nope; Failure Ninja Rantaro, Keshikasu-kun, Beyblade Burst, or Chibi Maruko-chan? Not licensed either.

The list can go on, but my point is that the very small selectection of kids manga to choose from in North America is why some kids are stumbling upon manga not appropriate for their age group.


Last edited by OjaruFan2 on Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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lys



Joined: 24 Jun 2004
Posts: 920
Location: mitten-state
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:10 pm Reply with quote
Merxamers wrote:
I've had mixed experiences with manga in comic book shops, myself. When i was a college student, the local comic shop there seemed like they were almost trying to hide that they sold manga at all, and stocked them in a small shelf in the back like they were embarrassed by them. Now that i live in Michigan, i was ecstatic to find a shop there (Vault of Midnight) that puts their manga shelf front and center in the store. I used to be embarrassed to buy manga at stores, since it can seem so niche and weird to the uninitiated, but for 4 years now I've been able to walk in every week and pick up the latest volumes of Dorohedoro, Sweetness and Lightning, and Magical Girl Special Ops: Asuka all in the same order, without anyone blinking an eye.

I agree with the contributors here that fans requesting/ordering books they want can really help a shop understand what people want to buy, but it's also up to the shops to create a welcoming environment for people who want to buy manga.

Isn't Vault of Midnight just the best!! I can walk, bike, or bus to their GR store. I have a looong list of subscribed titles so I don't often have reason to browse the manga shelves, but I always enjoy chatting with the employees about what we're reading or looking forward to. And they carry such a great range of other comics and graphic novels too—that's introduced me to a lot of non-manga books and artists I don't think I would've found in a bookstore (where they may or may not be carried, but would surely be spread out over several different sections if so).
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AkumaChef



Joined: 10 Jan 2019
Posts: 82
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:45 pm Reply with quote
OjaruFan2 wrote:

The list can go on, but my point is that the very small selectection of kids manga to choose from in North America is why some kids are stumbling upon manga not appropriate for their age group.


I suspect the problem they were talking about had nothing to do with kids encountering manga outside their age group. Rather the complaint is that people sit there and read the manga without buying it.

Maybe this is my age showing, but shops are not libraries. If you want the manga or the book then buy it. If you don't want it then leave it alone for other customers to buy if they so desire. It's rude to all involved to sit there on the floor and read without buying. It's one thing to open a book and flip a couple pages to check out a new title to see if you might want to buy it or not....but it's not a library.
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Kicksville



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
Posts: 660
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 4:45 pm Reply with quote
I know the manga boom had a big effect on my area - there were multiple comic book stores in my area that either added stores or greatly expanded sections largely to cater to the manga teen demographic. All of them had a great big manga wall, and regular events for screenings or related cards games, anything to get kids to walk in and buy a volume.

Now there are no comic book stores even remotely near me at all. Zero.

The biggest and most popular store was within walking distance from a Borders - it sure seems like a good amount of customers wandered over from there, for more manga. After 2008, stores started to disappear and their manga sections contracted considerably. There was the saturation problem, but frankly I get the feeling these fans growing up didn't have a use for buying manga at a comic book store anymore. Online or other places had better selections, and - while this is obviously not an issue with every comic book store - there was staff who openly showed contempt for it. Going to a comic book store went from being fun to aggravating.

Speaking of that, it seemed to me that none of these manga readers converted over to readers of other comics. I had given up on super hero books not long before then, looking at my collection of floppies full of mostly disappointing stories.

It sure looks like the screwed up way comics distribution works in general is a big factor, not only when it comes to manga, with series sales dependent on a pre-order system nobody knows exists. I dropped out fairly early compared to some of my friends, but pretty much all of them stopped reading super hero comics by now due to confusion and annoyance with series getting restarted, cancelled, absurd temporary sales goosing crossovers, etc.
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Sakagami Tomoyo



Joined: 06 Dec 2008
Posts: 742
Location: Melbourne, VIC, Australia
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:31 pm Reply with quote
Another point of difference between comic shops and book shops is just how available manga is through their respective distributors. Diamond will stock it, but are less interested in keeping up supply of a back catalogue (which is more important to the manga market than the single issue comics market) than more generalised book distributors are.
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OjaruFan2



Joined: 09 Jul 2018
Posts: 134
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 5:43 pm Reply with quote
AkumaChef wrote:
OjaruFan2 wrote:

The list can go on, but my point is that the very small selectection of kids manga to choose from in North America is why some kids are stumbling upon manga not appropriate for their age group.


I suspect the problem they were talking about had nothing to do with kids encountering manga outside their age group. Rather the complaint is that people sit there and read the manga without buying it.

Okay, makes more sense now. Thanks for clearing up that up.

Quote:
Maybe this is my age showing, but shops are not libraries. If you want the manga or the book then buy it. If you don't want it then leave it alone for other customers to buy if they so desire. It's rude to all involved to sit there on the floor and read without buying. It's one thing to open a book and flip a couple pages to check out a new title to see if you might want to buy it or not....but it's not a library.

I’ve been wondering why reading without buying at shops is frowned upon by the people that work there, so thanks! Not that I’ve personally been in a situation of getting yelled at from doing that, but I remember encountering three things that always made me wondering about that:

1. A gag in a couple stories in Doraemon in which Noby got kicked out of a book shop by the owner since he was reading manga without buying them.

2. My local comic shop having a sign that reads along the lines of “The couches are for watching TV only! Don’t use them for reading!”

3. Kinokuniya shrink-wrapping their manga: https://twitter.com/beachmongoose/status/1086364066392797187
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ninjamitsuki



Joined: 15 Sep 2007
Posts: 347
Location: Anywhere (Thanks, technology)
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:32 pm Reply with quote
Every single comic store I've been to bar one has zero manga other than maybe Pokemon or Lone Wolf And Cub.
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