Senior Editor at Tokyopop, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, has an interesting post up at her blog on the Tokyopop hub [via the ever-vigilant Mangablog] about manga sales, why series go on hiatus, and how the number of copies of manga in distribution at any given point in time are controlled by retail stores.
“One of the things I most hate to see on manga-related forums are comments like, “I’m interested in this series, but I don’t know if they’re going to cancel it, so I’ll wait a bit and see if it continues,”” Lillian says in her post.
She continues: “You know what practically GUARANTEES that something will get dropped from publication? Not putting your money where your mouth is and picking up volume 1.”
Lillian goes on to explain the basics behind perceived demand and supply of manga, a lot of which is governed by book stores, which constantly have various different titles fighting for shelf space. Online sales via sites like Amazon, she says, are a fraction of retail sales, so the manga industry is still very much reliant on brick-and-mortar stores.
When perceived demand for a series drops off, publishers consider putting it on hiatus to see if demand eventually picks up again to justify printing more volumes. Oftentime, however, if demand doesn’t back up fast enough, ultimately, not just the series but the license itself is dropped by the publisher.
Keeping the license would require them to keep paying the original Japanese publisher a licensing fee, which would be money that they would never make back during the time that the series is on hold.