News Commentary

Commentary: TOKYOPOP Announces Manga on Demand

Earlier today, TOKYOPOP announced that they were starting a print-on-demand service for manga. This strikes me as an interesting approach to the manga business, as it offers a few new possibilities for the publisher.

An on-demand approach allows TOKYOPOP to bring titles to print that titles that normally wouldn’t sell, and thus wouldn’t escape from the digital domain. In addition, this would be a perfect outlet for titles that the company cancelled mid-circulation over the years, like Satisfaction Guaranteed, Initial D, or Aria. Given the right schedule, these orphaned series could generate a fair amount of revenue and goodwill from the customer-base.

However, the more exciting possibility in this is that an on-demand approach could lead to a revival of the company’s out-of-print (but still in demand) titles. Titles like Planetes, the Welcome to the NHK novel, and Paradise Kiss could see a new lease on life, with this new opportunity to actually obtain volumes of these titles that are gone, but not forgotten, for a sane price.

The only really sticking issue I can see in this offering is the price. Like most on-demand services, individual volumes are pricey. Each edition is currently retailing for $15.99. While this may be a bargain for some titles, where a particular edition can cost upwards of $50, it certainly isn’t an ideal fit for all series. In particular, TOKYOPOP decided to kick off the service by highlighting Fruits Basket, Gorgeous Carat, and Liling-Po. These are all pretty easy to obtain for under $4 a book, and certaintly don’t show the actual value of such a service. In addition, the actual search interface is pretty terrible. A brief search pointed me to the three titles listed, plus .hack//CELL. There are other titles available, but the site offers no real indicators as to which titles are on-demand and which aren’t.

This approach has the potential to take off. However, they will definitely have to beef up their selection to include a few harder-to-get titles, if they want to be taken seriously by increasingly frugal fans.
About the author

Samantha Ferreira

Samantha Ferreira is Anime Herald’s founder and editor-in-chief. A Rhode Island native, Samantha has been an anime fan since 1992, and an active member of the anime press since 2002, when she began working as a reviewer for Anime Dream. She launched Anime Herald in 2010, and continues to oversee its operations to this day. Outside of journalism, Samantha actively studies the history of the North American anime fandom and industry, with a particular focus on the 2000s anime boom and bust. She’s a huge fan of all things Sakura Wars, and maintains series fansite Combat Revue Review when she has free time available. When not in the Anime Herald Discord, Samantha can typically be found on Bluesky.

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