Publishing | Tom Spurgeon writes the definitive obituary of PictureBox, which announced Monday it will stop publishing at the end of the year. He also polls other small-press comics publishers for their reactions. [The Comics Reporter]
Digital comics | Yen Press is bringing its digital manga magazine Yen Plus to an end; the December issue will be the final one. The magazine was launched as a print anthology in August 2008 and switched to digital-only format in 2010. When it began serializing Soul Eater NOT, Yen Plus became the first magazine to publish manga chapters worldwide at the same time they came out in Japan (Shonen Jump does simultaneous release, but only to a restricted region). [Anime News Network]
Comics | An anonymous family in the South was saved from foreclosure when, as they were packing up the home they had lived in since the 1950s, they discovered a copy of Action Comics #1 in the basement. The struggling couple contacted ComicConnect, which had brokered record-breaking sales of the June 1938 for $1 million in February and $1.5 million in March. The online auction company in turn convinced the bank to hold off on foreclosure. The couple’s copy of Action Comics has been graded Very Good/Fine, and is expected to bring upwards of $250,000 when it goes up for auction later this month. [ABC News]
Retailing | Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookstore chain, put itself up for sale Tuesday as it struggles under economic pressures and the shift away from paper books. Company founder and chairman Leonard Riggio may form an investor group to buy the 720-store chain. [The Wall Street Journal]
Yen Plus magazine launched two years ago at San Diego Comic-Con, and at this year’s SDCC, Yen Press relaunched it as a web-only publication.
Subscriptions to the magazine will be priced at $2.99 per month, compared to $8.99 per issue for the print version, and Yen is offering a free trial through September 6, so I thought I’d go in and kick the tires a bit. What I found was a mixed bag: The interface is clean and smooth, and I was delighted to find a short comic by the talented Madeleine Rosca (creator of Hollow Fields), but just as with the print version, I was left wondering who exactly they are editing this magazine for: The signup restricts it to readers over 17, but most of the series (Nightschool, Maximum Ride, and especially Rosca’s Haunted House Call) are more appealing to younger teens, while Jack Frost and Gossip Girl are clearly pitched at older readers—and may make the magazine off limits to younger teens, at least if their parents get a glimpse of the full content.
There are no Japanese manga in this issue, although the Yen folks promise that Yotsuba&! will join the lineup in future issues. One reason for this may be that the Japanese publisher Square Enix has set up its own online manga site (apparently in partnership with Yen Press) and their titles include Black Butler and Soul Eater, two former Yen Plus series. I hope Square Enix is giving Yen a good cut of the take from that website, because Black Butler is one of their most popular series.
Manga | Following up on Wednesday’s announcement that Yen Press will move its Yen Plus manga magazine online after the July issue, Gia Manry gets a few more details from Publishing Director Kurt Hassler — among them, that the web version will utilize a dedicated browser designed to emulate the print edition.
Digital publishing | In its White Paper presented last week at C2E2, ICv2 estimates that digital comics sales in North America last year totaled between $500,000 and $1 million. Naturally, it’s expected that sales in 2010 will “expand dramatically.”
iTunes | After Apple CEO Steve Jobs weighed in on the issue, the company has approved for its App store the NewsToon app from Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore. Apple had rejected the app in December, stating that Fiore’s Flash-animated political satire, “contains content that ridicules public figures,” a violation of its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement.
Digital comics | At Extreme Tech, Jim Lynch provides a lengthy overview of comics on Apple’s iPad: “Marvel and the other publishers have taken some important first steps, but they still have a way to go. The iPad has solved the problem of storage and readability, but now publishers must provide the app features, subscriptions, and digital delivery that will fully take advantage of the iPad and make reading comics on it as easy and as much fun as reading them in traditional book form.”
Copyright | A response to a brief post about the Manga Rock 1.0 app is a contender for quote of the day: “This is awful. You’re PAYING to use OneManga, which illegally hosts copyrighted materials! This is such crap.”
Yen Press announced today it will end the print edition of Yen Plus with the July issue and move the two-year-old manga anthology magazine online.
“The print magazine will be no more,” Publishing Director Kurt Hassler wrote, “but Yen Plus will live on as an online manga anthology! As such, it will have the ability to reach more readers than ever before while giving those same readers an option to peruse manga (and maybe some light novels?) legitimately online. Will there be other changes? Most definitely. You can expect to see content changes which we will announce when the time is right. Our commitment, however, is to keep bringing you the best and most diverse anthology experience every month.”
Launched in August 2008 by the Hachette Book Group imprint, the magazine has been used to introduce such titles as Black Butler, Nightschool and Soul Eater and the adaptations of Maximum Ride and Gossip Girl.