North American Manga Market Down By 20% In ’09



Pop culture news outlet ICv2 have released their “State of the Comics Industry” report, which includes manga and graphic novels as part of its coverage. According to the report, manga sales in North America and Canada in 2009 were down by 20% compared to the previous year.


Revenue generated from manga dropped from $175 million in 2008 to $140 million in 2009. The drop in sales is due to a variety of factors.


The Aging Shoujo Market


One of largest demographics that contributed to the expansion of the manga market in years past was the shoujo audience, particularly instrumental in allowing the medium to expand to bookstores. In recent times, however, this audience has aged, and attempts to graduate them to josei — primarily for older women — manga have been fairly unsuccessful. Once they outgrow shoujo, they look to other forms of media and venues for entertainment.


In addition to this, newer licenses have failed to replicate the kind of success enjoyed by popular shounen series such as Naruto, Bleach and Death Note, owing partially to a drop in exposure via television. This has led to a lack of “mainstream” hits in recent years.


A Decrease in Published Manga


Scanlation, of course, is a part of the problem. ICv2 point out that, compared to the comic book audience, manga readers are younger and more tech-savvy, and perhaps lack the “collector mentality” of comic fans. As more people become aware of the availability of “free” digital manga, publishers are forced to be increasingly selective with their licenses.


In 2009, the number of manga volumes published in total was 1,115 — down from 2008’s 1,513. While larger publishers such as Tokyopop chose to scale back their licenses to ride out the slump, some smaller publishers have been forced to go almost entirely inactive. In 2010, manga published will be down 13% from 2009.


Putting it in Perspective


Manga isn’t the only medium being affected. Graphic novel sales as a whole have slumped year-on-year. The important point to keep in mind, though, is that manga still accounts for 38% of revenue generated from the graphic novel market. ICv2 suggest that, perhaps like the European manga market, sales will eventually stabilize following the post-boom slump.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.