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New York Anime Festival and ICv2 Conference on Anime and Manga
Central Park Media

by Evan Miller,

Panelists: John O'Donnell

Mr. O'Donnell asked all participants to come take a red bag from the stage in the front of the room. He explained that he was going to do something “unheard of” in the history of anime conventions that he would explain halfway through the panel.

To address rumors about the “death” of Central Park Media as a company, O'Donnell said that CPM is here to stay and explained the position the company was placed in due to the collapse of major anime retailers Musicland and Tower Records. Calling the event a “tragedy”, he said that the effects of this collapse were one major reason that the company is still in a recovery phase. This was also the reason given when O'Donnell explained that the company had no new acquisitions to announce.

However, O'Donnell did highlight the fact that CPM was one of the first companies to drop the price of DVDs below twenty dollars. Providing the example of three-year-old Hollywood DVDs selling for five dollars in chain store discount bins, he said that this is a market strategy that anime has not been able to replicate.

Going back to his talking points from his appearance at the State of the Industry panel earlier today, O'Donnell gave a few details about why the company has fallen on hard times and why the industry as a whole is struggling. He says that instead of “buying high, selling low”, the company wants to go with a different strategy in the future. In discussing the demise of the anime company Geneon, O'Donnell said that he's never tried to engage in a heavy bidding war over popular titles in a volatile market. Furthermore, he stated that CPM has never lost money “deliberately” on a launch title.

John talked about CPM's Yaoi imprint Be Beautiful and the recent struggles of the company with a few Japanese firms. According to O'Donnell, CPM acquired a number of yaoi titles from Japanese publisher Biblos. However, Biblos later went out of business and was bought out by another company, Libre, who later accused CPM of stealing their products in a post to their website. To this day, Libre refuses to meet with CPM and discuss the issue. O'Donnell expressed how he was upset that many American fans got mad at CPM over the issue, stating that “there is no good or bad in these negotiations.” He also suggested that a lawsuit against Libre may be in the works.

At the end of the panel, Mr. O'Donnell made good on his promise to do something unheard of in the history of anime conventions: he told the audience that everyone with a red bag could go to the CPM booth and take whatever they liked. The announcement set off a rush of about 100 attendees scrambling to the CPM booth while New York Anime Festival staff hastily called in extra staff and security to handle the crowd.

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