Why Tokyopop sucks

August 31, 2006 at 12:03 am 14 comments

(Updated at the top because this post is too long – I can’t tell if I actually sound mad here.  I’m not – it’s kind of a low grade irritation, along the same lines of but below my irritation at the library for choosing to not catalogue most of their paperback collection and therefore rendering it inaccessible to anyone who is looking for a specific book and is not lucky enough to find it on the shelf the day they think to look.  In both cases, it ends up costing me extra money.)  :) 

That would be their decision to stop selling previously established titles in stores and selling them exclusively through their website.  They’ve also picked some new, upcoming books for their online only section, which makes it even worse in my mind.  There are two round-ups of blog postings that I was checking out today, one on the Newsarama Blog and one on Comics Worth Reading.

I asked my comic store friend today what she thought of TPop’s new policy and she seemed genuinely surprised by the news.  The manga girl… the one who does much of the ordering for the store.  Sigh.  When I mentioned that Dragon Head would be one of the titles, BOTH of the store employees told me I had to be wrong, since that was a really popular title and sold well.  MCSF also asked me to send her a list of the exclusive titles “since she couldn’t handle Tokyopop’s new website.”  Neither can I.  It’s why my blogroll link goes directly to their manga list now.  I made the sacrifice, though.  If you haven’t seen it elsewhere, here’s the list:

November 2006
Atomic King Daidogan, volume 1
One, volume 10
Neck and Neck, volume 6

December 2006
Heaven Above Heaven, volume 6

February 2007
Heaven!!, volume 1 (From the creator of GIRL GOT GAME, which means it would have gotten an automatic buy had it made it into the stores)
Sorcerer Hunters Authentic Relaunch, volume 8

March 2007
Arm of Kannon, volume 9
Rure, volume 1
Soul to Seoul, volume 5

April 2007
King City, volume 1
Dragon Head, volume 6
Dragon Voice, volume 8
Short Sunzen, volume 1

May 2007
The Knockout Makers, volume 1
St. Lunatic School (Yoru nimo Makezu! St. Lunatic School), volume 1

July 2007
Atelier Marie and Elie-Zarlburge Alchemist, volume 1
Monochrome Factor, volume 1

August 2007
Hiyoko ya Shoten, volume 1

Is there really a reason why so many new books are online only?  Do they think they won’t sell?  If so, why the hell do they keep licensing titles they have so little faith in?

I did the letter of complaint thing tonight on their forums, even though I doubt anyone official at Tokyopop really cares about what their customers think at this point.  Here’s what I wrote, and it’s probably a lot more polite than what I would have written had I done the full rant here.  The sad thing is, most of my early manga is from Tokyopop.  They had my loyalty as a customer, and now they seem to be actively working to lose it.  sigh.

Apparently this is the only place to leave feedback regarding Tokyopop’s decision to restrict sales of certain titles to online only.  Fine.  Here goes:

1) I live in Canada.  You are now asking me to pay $9.99 US for a title I would pay $10 Canadian for at my comic book stores (I get a 20% discount at both).  On top of exchange I would also have to pay extra for shipping, which bumps the price of a volume to at least $16.00.  That’s not counting whatever random customs fee they will also decide to charge me.  I can safely say that I will NEVER be buying a book off of your website.  There’s no way it would ever be worth it.

2)  You’re charging the same price for a book that’s been marked up twice by the time it gets to me in a store, which means you’re getting your regular publisher’s price, the middleman/distributor markup and the store markup.  I don’t buy books for the library I work for from publishers who charge cover price, I’m certainly not going to support it personally.

3)  You’re restricting access of your books to people who not only have credit cards and are willing to give out such information online (an editor suggested upthread if you have a bank card you can buy online – not everyone wants to set up these kind of payment options with their bank account), but you’re probably also assuming most of your customers are visiting your website and can find these exclusive titles among the clutter.  If you can’t sell them in stores where it’s accessible on a shelf, what makes you think you’re going to sell any more with them tucked away in your website?  If you wanted increased visibility for these titles might I suggest either increasing advertising, offering samples on your front page or in other books or NOT flooding stores with all of your titles in one week?  They might stand out a little more if they’re not hidden in the middle of 20 odd other Tokyopop new releases.

Most of my other thoughts were covered by others in previous messages, but on a personal note, you’ve managed to make me pretty leery of picking up any new series from Tokyopop if you’re going to randomly pull titles and make them unavailable to the average consumer.  I’ll be finishing the series I currently collect from Tokyopop, but won’t be picking up new ones until you’ve proven you can finish the complete run properly.  It’s a shame, too, because I looked at the list of exclusive titles and there are at least three I would have tried, and there might have been more depending on the art and how many other books I was buying that week.

To give you a rough idea of the kind of money I spend on manga, I have 29 titles on my “must buy” list (11 are from Tokyopop, but 4 are ending in within one or two volumes) and another 33 on my “usually buy” list (again, 11 of these are from Tokyopop).  I realize I’m only one customer (and as an adult I don’t seem to be part of your target audience anyway), and the official responses here seem to be along the lines of “tough, deal with it,” but you’ve done a pretty good job of making me think less of your company.

So… too whiny?  Not irritable enough?  Should I have been pissier and do I think they would have cared anyway??  Ah well.  Viz has overtaken Tokyopop as my #1 supplier recently.  This did prompt me to go over my manga list and resort my buying priority levels…

If you’re interested, here are the results:

29 must buy titles

Tokyopop – 11 titles – 4 ending soon
Decendents of Darkness, Fruits Basket, Gatcha Gacha, Hands Off!, Kamichama Karin, Kare Kano, Kindaichi Case Files, Love Mode, Saiyuki Reload, Strawberry Marshmallow, Tramps Like Us

Viz – 13 titles – 3 ending soon
Absolute Boyfriend, Aishiteruze Baby, Baby & Me, Beauty is the Beast, Bleach, Eyeshield 21, Fullmetal Alchemist, Full Moon, Hana Kimi, Midori Days, Naruto, Ouran High School Host Club, Whistle

Del Rey – 6 titles
ES (Eternal Sabbath), Genshiken, Ghost Hunt, Tsubasa, Wallflower, xxxHOLIC

ADV – 2 titles
Cromartie High School, Yotsuba&!

Misc – 7 titles
Crossroad, Kizuna, Land of the Blindfolded, Oh My Goddess, Our Kingdom, Tenshi Ja Nai! (I’m no Angel), Little Butterfly
Undecided first volumes:
Air Gear, Aoi House, Beauty Pop (Viz), Buso Renkin (Viz), Platinum Garden (TPop), Redrum 327 (TPop)33 probably buy titles:Tokyopop
Black Knight, Lagoon Engine (if they ever come out with a new volume, I’ll buy it, anyway…), Le Portait de Petite Cossette  (only one volume more), Loveless, Menkui!, Rozen MaidenViz
Crimson Hero, Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden, Kare First Love, Nana, Skip Beat!, W Juliet, Zombie Powder Misc
Boy Princess, Challengers, Gals!, Her Majesty’s Dog, Jazz, La Esperanca, Let Dai, School Rumble, Yakitate!! Japan

Titles I buy if I have nothing better to get:

Anne Freaks (Tpop), Chocolat, Dazzle (Tpop), Priceless (Tpop), Prince of Tennis (Viz),
Sugar Sugar Rune (Del Rey), Ultra Cute (Tpop)

And, of course this doesn’t cover all of the standalone and short yaoi series I buy from DMP….

I buy too much freaking manga.


Entry filed under: manga.

They’re just coming out at random now…. Rocking out with Mokona

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Tokyopop blogswarm  |  August 31, 2006 at 11:24 am

    […] John Jakala points out that Tokyopop doesn’t seem to have any mechanism in place for letting retailers know that titles are going to be “online exclusives” in the future. That’s what Cathy at it can’t all be about manga, found out when she went to her local comics store. And apparently there’s some disconnect between Tokyopop and reality: When I mentioned that Dragon Head would be one of the titles, BOTH of the store employees told me I had to be wrong, since that was a really popular title and sold well. MCSF also asked me to send her a list of the exclusive titles “since she couldn’t handle Tokyopop’s new website.” […]

  • 2. TangognaT » Journalista on Tokyopop  |  August 31, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    […] It can’t all be about manga writes about the online exclusives too, and takes the opportunity to break down current buying habits. […]

  • 3. amapyjama  |  September 14, 2006 at 7:34 pm

    Omg those bastards! I can’t afford to buy from them online…

  • 4. pajcat  |  September 19, 2006 at 6:03 pm

    They’re making things way too complicated for lazy people. :)

  • 5. Fran-chan  |  November 8, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Now the costoms are a *i*ch, I don’t even want to get anymore tokyopop for the stupid reason. I am going to email tokyopop about this.

  • 6. pajcat  |  November 9, 2006 at 3:10 am

    They relented on a couple of titles, but yeah, this was an annoying move. I still haven’t started buying any new t-pop series since they announced this.

  • 7. Kat  |  October 23, 2007 at 12:05 am

    I totally agree with what you stated, and I don’t think it was too whiney at all. Infact I just emailed tokyopop complaining about how much more complicated they’ve made their new website and how if they actually need a section on how to use the website and a “I don’t like this new webite” and “How to a file a complaint” section, its probably I sign that their new design isn’t working out. Ontop of that, I really find that this whole “membership fan base drive” aspect to be disorganized and unprofessional. I don’t want to read fanfiction, look at crap shot fanart and most of all I don’t want to know who the most popular online members of their fanbase are. Now I just stick with Viz. :D

  • 8. pajcat  |  October 24, 2007 at 7:36 am

    I haven’t been to their website in ages. When I do I usually just go to their manga list (when I can find it…)

    I’ve stuck to my Tokyopop boycott much to my surprise. I haven’t picked up any new series at all (tho from what I’ve read of them I’m not missing very much) with the exception of Pearl Pink. I think the next volume might be the last which is why I went ahead and bought it, plus it’s by Meca Tanaka who is awesome.

    And their screwing around with the Fruits Basket release dates haven’t bothered me as much since I started buying them off of eBay. I only need volume 23 now to complete the series!

  • 9. randomtrickpony  |  September 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    You didn’t sound bad at all, actually. You left a very ‘adult sounding’ letter in my opinion, for what it’s worth. You stated your case, were upfront about it and made legitimate arguments.

    Yes, I heard about this and I actually considered lighting several of my manga on fire out of sheer fangirl anger because I can no longer buy the newer ones online (and I refuse to read them online…not only is their website annoying, but it just doesn’t feel right, reading them without having paper in my hands). I’ve been holding off and holding off on the boycott… But it’s come to this, and now that they’ve failed to release one of my fav. series on time again, I’m just going to finish up what they ‘might’ release and get the hell outta Dodge.

    Yep, Trinity Blood and Fruits Basket are and forever will be the last series’ I buy from them. They’ve officially ruined my manga enjoyment, forever.

    What a company of idiots and fools.

  • 10. pajcat  |  September 11, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Well, two years later I have to say that I stuck with it for the most part. I’ve only bought three new series from them in that time (and one was being sold for $5 each, so I felt I had no choice) :) and I’ve even stopped getting Fruits Basket. They’ve stretched that one out to the point of ridiculousness! I got the Singapore translation through eBay and have had the entire series for a while now.

    And typically, two of the new series they put out that I really liked (Suppli and Nostatsu Junkie) are on the newest screwed over list.


  • 11. J  |  January 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    holy crap, did i get lucky or something? i bought monochrome factor volume 1 just a few months ago! is it really exclusively for internet only or did tokyopop back off from their terrible idea?

    i’m really behind… i need to pay more attention to the otaku news/blogs… *headdesk*

    • 12. pajcat  |  January 5, 2009 at 1:17 am

      I think they backpeddled on a lot of titles, but they started screwing around with release dates instead. Now they’re back to pulling/not pulling titles, but I think they’ve got some financial problems now…

  • 13. Heart  |  August 26, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    They seriously have no heart in the mangas that they put out…-_-

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