[ return : true > paper ]

closure for tokyopop

postmortem —tokyopop shop is dead, long live tokyopop.


We all knew this was coming. The store was badly implemented. I never managed to buy anything from them. My requests always timed out. The two items i eventually managed to order (and recieved confirmation for) never actually shipped. Tokyopop has never suceeded as an online retailer. The shop was an example of everything bad about online shopping.

Besides, Tokyopop's own merchandise, their licensed products, have long been available through other channels. Although the shop carried a nice selection of import merchandise, there was no compelling reason to shop there. Tokyopop failed utterly to establish itself as a retail presence, especially in light of strong competition from amazon and cdjapan.

The retail market, we should also point out, is probably not the most fun place to be right now. It was a lackluster holiday season, margins are falling, Japanese companies are demanding higher license fees. Tokyopop is well shut of that business.

But I was reading the clover manga they've put out, and I still think they're a worthwhile company capable of some great things. The translation was fine, it's a decent edition, (twice the price of the japanese, and cheaply printed, but that's progress. . .) and I've always had a soft spot for CLAMP.

Tokyopop needs to focus on their core business of distribution. They have some great manga properties, well-established contacts, and adequate presence with retailers. Their priority, at this point, should be to improve the quality of their products. Dark Horse's manga are still better than tokyopop's in every way. Even Viz usually has better printing and binding (as well as an amazing array of licenses.)

They seem to have been working on this. I recall the original ccs manga, which were unanimously panned. By comparison, people seem to grudgingly consider the u.s. editions of clover adequate, though not particularly good. (it's progress. . .)

Tokyopop just recently announced that they would begin releasing manga in a right-to-left format, maintaining the original page layouts. This is a step I wholeheartedly applaud. The press release points out that this enables more rapid releases (the figure they cite is 'monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.') Although such claims are probably extravagant, I'm sure that there will be at least some improvement over the current six-month release schedule. The press release also mentions a price point of $9.99 per book, very near comicsone's prices.

Even that price seems excessive, considering that the imported version costs about 6.00 and is more durably bound. However, market demographics are different in the U.S. Tokyopop is taking some giant steps forward, and we as fans should definitely be supportive while they work through shedding their retail arm and redefining their business.