Tokyopop goes digital-first with Hetalia
Tokyopop has a hot property in Hetalia: Axis Powers, a manga series in which the nations of the world are personified by various manga stereotypes and act out their political affairs on the page. The series has a fan following already, partly because it offers lots of cosplay opportunities (there is also an anime, which is licensed by Funimation and has been out for a while). The first volume is scheduled for release in September, with a list price of $12.99, but Tokyopop has chosen to jump the gun and release Hetalia digitally, through Zinio, for just $5.99. This edition seems to be the same as the print edition; at 148 pages, it’s a bit skimpy for the higher price. They have also made the book available to libraries for free through the OverDrive program, so anyone with a valid library card can read it online for free. Tokyopop freelance editor Daniella Orihuela-Gruber, who worked on the book, offers five reasons to give it a try, and Johanna Draper Carlson puts the digital release in context.
By offering the digital version earlier and at a lower price than the print edition, Tokyopop is moving faster than the superhero publishers. It’s not clear why.
Oddly, Amazon lists another version of Hetalia with a generic cover, which makes me suspect it’s a bootleg; if it were the Japanese edition, there would be art. Since this edition is priced over 12 bucks, it’s not a particularly good deal either.