What's Killing Japanese Manga? A Lack of Discoverability

That's the thesis of otaku Michael Pinto, who argues that the simple mistake of shrink-wrapping new manga in bookstores is preventing potential customers from discovering new artists:

Many social media from Facebook to Flickr live and die by discoverability. It’s the idea that from a casual glance you may find something that you weren’t looking for that engages your attention. Part of what killed the music business was that outlets like radio and MTV stopped playing their product. When this occurred most people stopped discovering new artists — and the result is that the while a Lady Gaga may occur occasionally break out, for the most part you have a stagnant business in sharp decline. And what happened to music CDs is now happening to manga.

Now many folks in Japan read their manga via weekly publications, but for those who aren’t that means that there’s no reason to buy a volume of manga. So an entire market for casual readers will die out over time. Many of the artists published in the self contained volumes of manga are the best of the best, but if a few years go by their series may not be running in a weekly publication anymore. The result is that a kid discovering an older artist for the first time will be stopped dead in their tracks at the shrink-wrap. Add to that fact that Japan is graying so there are less kids to buy the older back titles in the first place. And just so you know many of the titles that were shrink-wrapped were aimed at non-otakus like kids titles and romantic girly girl manga.

Link | Image: Kodansha

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