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Asahi: Kadokawa Controlled 48% of Light Novel Market

posted on by Egan Loo
Acquired Media Factory with another 8% share; Kodansha to launch new imprint

The Monday edition of the Asahi Shimbun paper published a feature that noted that the Japanese publisher Kodansha is launching a new imprint for light novels — a market which was 48% controlled by rival Kadokawa. Kadokawa's recent acquisition of Media Factory expands its market share even further.

Despite being Japan's largest publisher, Kodansha has had a minimal presence in the growing market of "light novels," which Asahi Shimbun's Page 3 article described as a term coined around 2000 for "entertainment novels written for the younger generations." Light novels that have been translated and published in North America include Nagaru Tanigawa's Haruhi Suzumiya series, Shoji Gatoh's Full Metal Panic!, and Sakurako Kimino's Strawberry Panic!

In 2009, the entire Japanese bunko paperback market was worth 132 billion yen (about US$1.7 billion). Of that total, light novels represented 30.1 billion yen (US$392 million) or a full 23% of the bunko market. While the bunko market as a whole has continued to shrink, light novels grew 13.6% since 2004.

In 2009, Kadokawa-owned imprints Dengeki Bunko, Fujimi Fantasia Bunko, Famitsu Bunko, and Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko controlled 26%, 10%, 7%, and 5% of the light novel market, respectively, for a total of 48%. Kadokawa just announced last month that it is acquiring Media Factory, whose MF Bunko J imprint held an additional 8% market share. According to Asahi, the combination of Kadokawa and Media Factory commands an even higher share of the male-oriented light novel segment — about 90%.

Rival publisher Shueisha's Super Dash Bunko imprint held a 4% share of the light novel market, while Shogakukan's Gagaga Bunko held 2%. Other imprints held the remaining 38%.

Kodansha Light Novel Bunko imprint's December launch lineup features Ojamajo Doremi 16, Midori Kuriyama's light novel sequel to the Ojamajo Doremi (Magical DoReMi) magical girl anime. The imprint will also publish the Shingeki no Kyojin: Before the Fall adaptation of Hajime Isayama's Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) manga and the winner of its 1st Kodansha Light Novel Bunko New Author Prize, which will be made into a 15-minute anime by the studio AIC.

Kadokawa Group Holdings is the parent company of ASCII Media Works, Fujimi Shobo, Enterbrain, and Kadokawa Shoten. These sibling companies publish the Dengeki Bunko (Toaru Majutsu no Index, Shakugan no Shana), Fujimi Fantasia Bunko (Full Metal Panic!, Seitokai no Ichizon), Famitsu Bunko (Baka to Test to Shōkanjū, Bungaku Shōjo), and Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko (Haruhi Suzumiya, Rental Magica) imprints, respectively.

[Via Moe Ota-New Sokuhō]

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