Robot 6

Del Rey: We’re still making manga

Nodame no more?

Nodame no more?

Viz and Tokyopop may be bigger, but Del Rey manga has always been the prestige manga publisher, the home of smart, mature titles like Love Roma, Mushishi, and Nodame Cantabile, as well as solid genre favorites like Kitchen Princess (arguably the shoujo-est shoujo manga ever), Air Gear, Negima, and Basilisk. Sure, there was the occasional dud, but overall their line was strong, their production values were high, and the translations didn’t insult your intelligence.

Lately, though, things seem to have slowed down over at the Del Rey shop. Ali Kokmen, their affable and well-liked marketing director, was let go. Their website got swallowed up by a generic graphic-novel website run by parent company Random House; their old site got everything I talked about in yesterday’s post right, and the new one gets everything wrong. And a reader who pre-ordered volumes of Nodame Cantabile and Gakuen Prince got this e-mail recently:

Volumes 17 and 18 of “Nodame Cantabile” have been cancelled prior to publication, as have volumes 4 and 5 of “Gakuen Prince.” We have no additional information available as to why this may have occurred. At the present time there are no upcoming releases scheduled for either series within the next 12 months.

Comments at the site indicate that another series, Pumpkin Scissors has also been canceled (although in the word of comics retailing, “canceled” may simply mean postponed).

Is Random House is washing its hands of manga? I e-mailed Del Rey associate publisher Dallas Middaugh and asked some pointed questions; here is his answer:

Thanks for inquiring about our manga program. Let me assure you that Random House plans to be in the manga business for years to come, and our program overall remains strong and steady. You may recall that we moved a few series into the omnibus format, which has made it appear to some that we’ve drastically reduced our list, but we’re still publishing roughly the same number of pages of manga each year.

The Del Rey Manga site has been merged into our Suvudu site, which, if anything, has increased our updates for, a site which had remained static for way too long. And our commitment to graphic novels remains strong, as in addition to our manga program we have new graphic novels from Diana Gabaldon, Dean Koontz, GB Tran, and several others out later this year and early next.

I do recall them moving series to omnibus format, something that actually played pretty well with the fans I heard from, as they are better value for the money. A few years ago, they actually did some exclusive omnibuses for the Borders bookstore chain, so that isn’t new.

This will inevitably lead to speculation about whether the Japanese publisher Kodansha is pulling their titles from Del Rey, as they did from Tokyopop; all three of the canceled titles are licensed from Kodansha.
Random House and Kodansha formed a joint venture in 2003, chiefly to sell Random House books in Japan, and one result of this cozy relationship is that Del Rey got the choice Kodansha titles. The joint venture was dissolved last year, and around the same time, Kodansha announced that it would be publishing manga in the U.S. itself, although its only releases so far are re-issues of Akira and Ghost in the Shell. The picture isn’t all that clear, though, because Del Rey just released the latest volume of another Kodansha title, Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei.

Ultimately, Del Rey’s strength lies as much with their editing and production values as with the licenses they get; one of their best books in recent years is Nina Matsumoto’s Yokaiden, a global manga. And most publishers have slimmed down their releases, publicly or quietly, so that’s nothing unusual. With a corporate parent like Random House, Del Rey should be better positioned than most, as long as RH keeps putting resources into them.



“their production values were high, and the translations didn’t insult your intelligence.”

Originally maybe, but some of the recent (okay, from early last year since they have put much out lately) books have been pretty bad. There are still some gems, but the strange translation errors (that seem to be from lack of research, not lack of knowledge of the Japanese language) really put me off. Plus the lettering and clean up for most titles has been shaky at best for years. It’s like the letterers don’t care at all about the series, and that makes me very sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore a number of the titles they put out and I was very worried about titles hat haven’t had a new volume out in ages, but the quality seems to have slipped a lot since they began putting out manga. I guess I just miss their “good old days.”

I hope nothing happens to Del Rey. They publish one of my favorite manga series Shugo Chara! and I so want them to get Shugo Chara! Encore so the collection can be completed. I want to hold those volumes in my hands and say I have them! Also to read them too.

I just started Shugo Chara today, plan to start on Gacha Gacha Next Revolution, Suzuka and Zetsubou-Sensei. this is imo the number one publisher for titles. I hope they don’t get to hurt to badly.

“Let me assure you that Random House plans to be in the manga business for years to come…”

I’m probably over-parsing this response, but this guy saying that “Random House” plans to publish manga isn’t exactly the same thing as saying that *Del Rey* is still going to publish manga, is it?

The one thing you can’t expect from a publisher is the truth. So there’s really no point in asking them what’s going on with their company. Of course they’re going to say their company is doing good. That’s the marketing guy’s job. What, is he going to say “Things are not looking good for us. We’re cancelling a lot of titles. We don’t know if we have a future”?

Thank-you for looking into this Brigid. While I’m happy someone is trying to get to the bottom of this, I’m unhappy that no volumes of Nodame Cantabile will be released in the next 12 months. That just sounds crazy to me.

I wasn’t affected at all by any Tokyopop cancellations as I never read them (only top-tier stuff), but now I have to say I’ve been burned by Del Rey’s cancellations which I least expected as they were the picture of health in the industry.

I recently purchased the omnibus concluding Mushishi. It is quite nice to get a graphic novel that takes longer than twenty minutes to read, though the loss of the covers is a bit disappointing (and I’ve always been a bit sad that Del Rey couldn’t afford to include the color pages for Mushishi, since the art is so lovely).

One thing that drives me crazy is Del Rey’s release schedule: one volume of Moyasimon or the Zaregoto light novels a year — both series have around nine volumes out in Japan, it will be a long time before we catch up at this rate. I don’t quite understand the business case for such a slow release schedule, since, surely it clobbers the sales of the later volumes to have the earlier volumes be several years out of print.

I’m really worried for Del Ray. They publish two of my favorite series: Shugo Chara! and Papillon. I tried to see if they were planning on releasing a new Papillon soon and was extremely disappointed with their new website. You can’t see what titles they publish, their help & faqs section just takes you to the top of the page and the contact form didn’t work. I’ll really be heartbroken if I’m unable to finish Papillon, so I do hope that Del Ray pulls through. :(

Disappointed Nodame Fan

August 15, 2010 at 10:42 am

WOW. I hate when companies act is if they’re telling you something but aren’t really telling you anything…

I’ve been looking forward to Nodame volume 17 for what seems like decades!!!!!!!!! I’ve emailed them about it with absolutely NO response and now this??? It’s outrageous!!!!!! I bought all of my manga from the bookstores as soon as they were released (supposedly that’s supposed to help w/ their “numbers”) — I’ve recommended this series to so many people and they’ve actually gone out and bought the volumes themselves only for all of us to be stuck waiting for volume 17? That’s totally unfair!!!!! What’s gonna happen next? How am I going to get my Nodame fix? Why aren’t they telling us anything????

“Ultimately, Del Rey’s strength lies as much with their editing and production values as with the licenses they get; one of their best books in recent years is Nina Matsumoto’s Yokaiden, a global manga.”

I respectfully disagree. Yokaiden is pretty terrible.

For what it’s worth, I also got a cancellation notice from Right Stuf for Pastel 15. Pastel is terrible, so I’m not too broken up about that, but it doesn’t bode well for other titles. I didn’t have it on order (and I’m not sure if it was ever solicited), but I noticed a new volume of My Heavenly Hockey Club hasn’t appeared in over a year, either.

Nooo! How am I gonna get my Nodame Cantable fix?? T_T and Papillon too!

At this moment, is there any point in asking Del Rey about a license request?

Don’t they know their own market and how to profit from it? . I am not happy with this company. There is no information to be found on the website and its a big fat joke. There is no way that I would ever log on to that website again it doesn’t give me the info I want nor do I find it user friendly. I hope that I wake up from this nightmare that del ray has created and i can continue and/or finish the series that I’m waiting for like My Heavenly Hockey Team. I’m sick of waiting I want my manga and I want it sooner rather than later.

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