February 01, 2010

Manga circulation in Japan


When analyzing the social and literary importance of manga in Japan, the discussion must set aside the nerdy pop culture niche comics occupy in the U.S. (except when Hollywood turns a superhero comic into another blockbuster). Not even the term "graphic novel" elevates its image much beyond Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons.

In 2009, manga in Japan sold a little over 5 billion units (periodicals and compilations), coming to a quarter of the entire publishing business in gross sales, and constituting a third of all print runs. To make a rough analogy, manga is to publishing in Japan what romance is to publishing in the U.S. (the snob factor among critics is similar too).

The reason for the misalignment between gross sales and print runs is that the business is run on such tight margins. Manga compilations and anthologies sold in the most popular "perfect bound" format--"Ko B-ban"--retail for less than $5.00.

A better analogue is Hollywood television production, with hundreds of thousands of people generating thousands of hours of content 24/7 for the networks and cable channels. The economic models are similar too. Like the television studios, manga magazines loss lead on first serial rights and turn a profit on licensing and compilations.

Manga is basically in the same visual storytelling business on a tenth of the budget. But with Japan's population in decline, the aging of the tween/teen audience is weakening manga's hold on its customer base, leading to the problem of monetizing content in new media markets.

These declines, though, are more like glaciers melting. It's the slow, steady slide that worries the accountants, not the falling off of cliffs. Even so, the circulation numbers make clear how big a cultural influence manga remains in Japan. When it comes to periodicals focused almost entirely on narrative fiction, nothing in the U.S. compares.

I've sorted the top five in each category (entire list here). For comparison purposes, Japan's population is about a third that of the U.S.

Boy's Comics
Weekly Shonen Jump
Weekly Shonen Magazine
Coro Coro Comic
Monthly Shonen Magazine  
Weekly Shonen Sunday
Shueisha
Kodansha
Shogakukan
Kodansha
Shogakukan
2,809,362
1,650,205
911,667
904,084
773,062
      The next 111,526,337
Men's Comics
Young Magazine
Weekly Young Jump
Big Comic Original
Weekly Manga Goraku
Big Comic
Kodansha
Shueisha
Shogakukan
Nihon Bungeisha  
Shogakukan
857,013
852,938
791,917
500,000
487,834
      The next 305,307,910
Girl's Comics
Ciao
Nakayoshi
Bessatsu Margaret
Ribon
Hana to Yume
Shogakukan
Kodansha
Shueisha
Shueisha
Hakusensha
815,455
306,667
275,834
274,167
226,542
      The next 121,329,664
Ladies' Comics
YOU
BE-LOVE
Cookie
Chorus
Kiss
Shueisha
Kodansha
Shueisha
Shueisha
Kodansha
179,542
173,125
165,000
150,417
145,542
      The next 10713,112

Related posts

Buying Japanese manga
Manga economics
The manga development cycle
Marketing manga

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Comments:

# posted by Blogger Unknown
Updated manga chapter at My Mangalist :-)
11/27/2017 7:59 PM