My mother owns a bookstore and she just sent me a newsletter she received about Tokyopop going down. Tokyopop is closing their LA based offices but are leaving a European branch open.
When DragonBall Evolution came out in 2009 I think, I said to a few friends that I really thought anime/manga was on a downhill slope in America. I said that by the end of 2011 it would go back to being the way it was in the 90s-- the fans who loved it were OBSESSED but casual viewers were going to start vanishing, and it was going to go back to being harder to purchase goods for.
The anime industry has suffered big-time from DVD distributors getting cocky and buying up every single license they could find, even if the title was pretty stupid. "If it's anime it will sell because fans buy anything." With the internet, fans were able to preview titles before they bought (believe it or not, there was a time when we fans relied on magazine articles and reviews to help us decide what to drop $30 on). Eventually fans just stopped buying DVDs because the popular series they had already seen fansubbed online.
I don't know if people reading manga online has had much of a hand in Tokyopop's closure, but the biggest reason Tokyopop is going down is apparently because Borders and other major bookstore chains have really taken the plunge. Borders filed for bankruptcy earlier this year (late last year?) after having a really rough couple of years.
I know people who have worked for Tokyopop in the past, and I'm a little worried about how all this will affect them. I'm worried about how this will affect manga in America. Are we going to start seeing major cons shutting down or moving to smaller venues?
I was never a fan of Tokyopop-- they were successful not for the quality of their work but for the sheer volume of series they put out. They were quick to put out new OEL titles and quick to cut them, there were major translation inconsistencies in the first ten years they published, the editor was in the beginning a bit of a jerk-off (he used to print hate mail MIXXine received just so he could bitch out the writers in print), and I thought some of their pages looked like scanlations (they used to use a font that looked like comic sans, there were typos aplenty, switched dialog in word balloons, and character names changed A LOT). However, they were a big force in bringing over titles and it's kind of a strange feeling to see them go. I haven't read one of their books in seven years, but they gave a few of my friends jobs and they introduced me to manga when up until then all I had read was Ranma 1/2. They kind of brought more variety to the market, and more importantly GIRLS COMICS.
As someone who is trying to draw comics full-time, I'm a little nervous about what lies ahead. Will there be an American audience at all in two more years? Or will I be writing for more a European crowd, where as I understand it anime and manga are much more popular.
Reading: D. Gray-man vol. 11