ICv2 is bullish on manga. They estimate total retail sales of manga in North America in 2005 as $155 to $180 million, and they also revisited their 2004 estimate of $110 to $140 million and decided the true number was closer to the higher end of that range.
The bottom line here is that in 2005 sales of manga rose at a strong double digit growth rate that would be the envy of any other publishing category.
And the growth continued in the first quarter of 2006, according to the retailers they spoke to. They spotted three key trends:
1. a bigger disparity between sales of the top and bottom titles on the top 50 manga list;
2. increased presence of shoujo manga in the top 50
3. increased interest in new genres such as josei and yaoi manga
Here’s their top 10 for last quarter:
2. Full Metal Alchemist
3. Kingdom Hearts
4. Fruits Basket
6. Death Note
7. Rurouni Kenshin
I might add that every series on that list except Negima is represented somewhere in our house. I will also speculate that the presence of Death Note and Negima indicates the maturing of the manga market, and the fact that they share space with Kingdom Hearts indicates that the manga creep is beginning—the market is extending up and down the age range from its tween-teen core.
Anime sales saw a bit of a slump and movies were more popular than continuing series. As a consumer, this makes perfect sense to me; anime as it has been sold in the past few years is too little content for too much money. Fortunately that trend seems to be reversing.
Anyway, it’s good news all the way for the manga contingent, and I hope the strength of the market encourages publishers to start licensing some more challenging properties.