About a fortnight ago, an interesting discussion arose in the comments of our post touching upon the decline of the manga market through 2009, regarding the release schedules certain manga publishers adhere to, and how it affects fan interest in the series they follow.
One of our readers pointed out that setting releases too far apart meant publishers risked losing any sense of urgency or relevancy one might associate with a particular series. While more popular franchises like Naruto don’t have this problem, others — such as Slam Dunk, which was the example cited specifically — often see a 2-3 month gap between individual volume releases.
In a post on librarian site EarlyWord that comes via MangaBlog, Robin Brenner points out that VIZ have taken to releasing One Piece volumes five at a time, in order to catch up with its Japanese storyline, and, as a result, combat the increasing threat / appeal of scanlations. An interesting side-effect this has had on One Piece was that all five volumes recently appeared on the New York Times’ best-seller during the week VIZ published them. Traditionally, One Piece hasn’t enjoyed the popularity of licenses such as Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist. Despite whatever other effects it might have, a sudden rush of releases certainly helped put the series under the spotlight.
However, while this might work out positively for VIZ, it isn’t quite as convenient for libraries that stock manga, due to the need for a massive re-allocating of budgets. Libraries, too, are feeling the pinch from scanlated material, as their readers turn to the convenience of immediately-available, digitally-distributed media, and need to ensure their material keeps up with fan demand — the ultimate point being that it is now a question of the print industry having to collaborate as a whole to keep itself relevant.