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Even though I (thankfully) no longer work in comic retail 24/7, I still keep my hand in and assist my former employer with the manga orders. I really try my best to maintain as diverse and full a stock of new titles as possible, and research new titles as they're solicited as much as I can. But I don't have an unlimited budget and manga is not the focus of the business, so cuts and exceptions have to be made. Occasionally I screw up. I never ordered any of the Project X books, for example, because I couldn't imagine anyone possibly wanting to read a comic about the history of Cup Noodles. And then it became a hit with the discerning manga blogerati.
I've got a pretty good grasp, otherwise, about what does and does not sell to our customers. Manga novels don't sell. Sports manga don't sell. So-called "global manga" titles don't sell. A few Korean titles will sell every once in awhile, but the "original English language" stuff is almost always dead on arrival. So I keep in mind the types of material customers won't buy at the store when I set the order numbers.
But a great way to keep orders down on certain titles, or entire lines, is to pull stupid, un-friendly to comics retailer moves. I've been very impressed with Go Comi's line of books, particularly their production values. But I won't order any of their titles that have been Borders exclusives. Why should I? Anyone who wants them has already had four or five months to buy them at Borders. We haven't carried anything from Net Comics either, because, as I said earlier, Korean comics tend to be a tough sell with our customers and they solicited something like twelve first volumes their first month in existence. That was simply too much at once on unknown properties from a new publisher. I may start ordering some of their material, now that I've had a chance to see it for myself elsewhere, but I have no regrets for not letting them flood our shelves early on.
And now I have to decide what to do, if anything, about Tokyopop. I'm extraordinarily upset about this latest move of theirs. They've always been a bit of a nuisance to deal with, from an ordering and budgeting angle. They put out too much at once, their section in Previews is a mess, and now doesn't even include descriptions for anything more than one or two volumes old, and their production values are somewhat lacking in comparison to almost all their still in business competitors.
My first impulse, honestly, is to simply stop ordering any Tokyopop titles outside of what we need to fill pull-lists. Why should I take a chance on ordering a new series from Tokyopop if, two or three volumes later, they might decide that it isn't selling what they think it should be and make it an online exclusive item? Why should I attempt to build an audience for a title in the store if Tokyopop could decide that they'd rather cut out the middle-man and sell the title direct themselves? And what do I tell customers already buying a title when Tokyopop decides to take it exclusive?
I'll probably have to talk with the rest of the people who work at and operate the store before I come to a final conclusion, but I have a hard time imagining that anyone is going to have an opinion about what to do that's far different from my first impulse. Tokyopop really did a lot to usher in the current manga marketplace in the U.S., but their actions since then have been frustrating and baffling and have burnt out a lot of people's goodwill towards the company.