I was made aware of ICv2 News's new article, Top Ten Most Powerful People in American Manga Publishing
last Sunday. As far as I'm concerned, the blogosphere blowback from this article is mostly just that, but I must say that I agree with #1
-3, at least.
TOKYOPOP, regardless of its flaws, has been the market innovator since its inception; their one-two punch of big-box bookstore selling so as to win a female readership and price reduction/trim size/accelerated release schedule reshaped the world of manga into how we know it today and left the veteran publishers, most notably VIZ and Dark Horse (plus affiliates like Studio Proteus), reeling under the impact. Granted, VIZ Media arguably took a half-dozen eyes in return for TOKYOPOP's one, but they are a fundamentally conservative, reactionary company that never would have become what they did without provocation and a very real threat of the loss of their ascendancy in the US manga market. Meanwhile, Dark Horse, once one of the most important manga and manga-inspired publishers, became "Etc." in the wake of the realignment under the new VIZ Media/TOKYOPOP + Del Rey axis.
But, naturally, that means that all of these manga publishers have sold the souls of their future financial successes to the duopoly of bookstores in the US--Borders and Barnes & Noble. Comic book shops, which alienate the girls and women who are now manga's most important and powerful readership segment, are of lesser importance. Of the two stores, Borders (and Waldenbooks) carries more manga--it's obvious even to the casual buyer--which makes getting new lineups well-placed there crucial to the title's success.