Viz Announces Partnerships and Products at 2004 BEA

Jun 4th 2004
VIZ ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS AND NEW PRODUCTS AT 2004 BOOK EXPO AMERICA

Company announces partnerships with Simon & Schuster and Reading Is Fundamental and also presents new manga titles for Third Quarter.

Chicago, IL, June 4, 2004 – VIZ, LLC, one of the leading publishers and distributors of manga and anime for North American audiences, made several noteworthy partnership and product announcements at the 2004 Book Expo America (BEA) convention held in Chicago, IL, June 3-6. BEA is the largest single gathering of the publishing and literary industries in the United States. VIZ is located in booth 2077, Level 3, Hall A of the McCormick Place Convention Center.

VIZ announced to BEA attendees a new distribution partnership recently forged with powerhouse Simon & Schuster. Under the agreement, Simon & Schuster will provide the full suite of retail and wholesale distribution operations – warehousing, fulfillment, customer service, and accounts receivable collection -- for the entire VIZ catalog of titles, including best-selling manga like RUROUNI KENSHIN and FUSHIGI YÛGI. The company will also handle popular SHONEN JUMP titles like YU-GI-OH!, and new graphic novels like SAIKANO and IMADOKI, the first volumes of which are set to ship this month.

“We are pleased to enter the expanding market for manga through this agreement with VIZ, LLC,” said Joe D'Onofrio, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain for Simon & Schuster in a press release issued by the distributor when the agreement was inked. “We are eager to help VIZ increase the popularity of their manga titles by using all our proven skills and expertise in nationwide distribution. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with VIZ.”

VIZ also announced an innovative new partnership with Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), where VIZ properties will be used to promote literacy among school children nationwide. RIF is the oldest and largest children's and family literacy nonprofit organization in the United States and operates through 450,000 volunteers at 25,000 sites nationwide. This is a first-of-its kind partnership between RIF and a leading graphic novel publisher/distributor. Beginning this summer, RIF will make VIZ graphic novels like YU-GI-OH! and DRAGON BALL Z, part of the SHONEN JUMP graphic novel line, available through the organization's national network of schools and clubs to help children develop a willingness and love for reading. The program will continue when school begins again in the fall.

Finally, VIZ announced three new manga titles that are slated for release in August. The trio of titles includes CASE CLOSED by Gosho Moyama, BEYBLADE by Takao Aoki, and KARE FIRST LOVE by Kaho Miyasaka. The graphic novels round out a bevy of new Viz Manga that debuted this summer, including SAIKANO, CHEEKY ANGEL, IMADOKI, and RED RIVER, which all ship in June.

CASE CLOSED, a mystery-based story, and BEYBLADE, a gaming fantasy tale, are the latest additions to VIZ's popular action manga collection. Both titles are still published in Japan and enjoy massive popularity. KARE FIRST LOVE, a coming-of-age romantic tale, is the latest shôjo manga offering from VIZ and has previously been translated for audiences in Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Korea. However, this is the first time the manga will be offered to an English-speaking audience.

“We chose to make these announcements at BEA because the event has always represented one of the world's most prestigious and comprehensive gatherings of the publishing industry,” notes Mr. Seiji Horibuchi, president of VIZ. “The growing popularity of manga in North America is evident, and the new partnership with Simon & Schuster will provide a reliable and far reaching channel that ensures VIZ titles will always be available to retailer of all sizes nationwide.”

He continues, “VIZ is also honored to partner with Reading Is Fundamental to utilize manga to help children and young adults develop a lifelong love of reading. I'm sure that all BEA attendees will agree that this passion must be developed at a young age but it is one that lasts a lifetime. I am pleased that RIF recognizes how imaginative and positive manga stories can encourage a child to want to read.”

About VIZ, LLC

Founded in 1986, VIZ is a multi-media entertainment company specializing in Japanese entertainment properties for U.S. audiences. VIZ offers an integrated product line including magazines, graphic novels, videos, DVDs and audio soundtracks. Each month, VIZ publishes three magazines ANIMERICA, ANIMERICA EXTRA and SHONEN JUMP; over 20 graphic novel titles, including Alice 19th, BOYS OVER FLOWERS, DRAGON BALL Z, FUSHIGI YÛGI, GUNDAM, INUYASHA, RANMA 1/2, and YU-GI-OH!; and distributes home video for BOYS OVER FLOWERS, HAMTARO, INUYASHA, POKéMON, PROJECT ARMS, and ZOIDS.

Based in San Francisco, VIZ is one of the top five comics publishers in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Shogakukan and Shueisha, Inc., two of the top publishers in Japan. VIZ is the leading publisher of manga for English speaking audiences, serving a growing market of dedicated fans of all ages. Estimating a core audience of nearly 15 million fans, the company holds more than a 50% market share of Japanese comics in the U.S. With some of the most innovative products in the industry, VIZ has expanded its offerings to its loyal fans through web sites such as www.Animerica-mag.com, www.shonenjump.com, and its corporate site, www.Viz.com.

Contact VIZ, LLC at: 655 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-1612; Phone: (415) 546-7073; Fax: (415) 546-7086; Web site: www.VIZ.com

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