Japanese readers are deserting manga magazines for tankoubons, according to this release from JETRO (Japanese External Trade Organization), translated by Manganews. Sales of magazines were down 5% in 2005 (presumably compared to the year before) and sales of tanks were up 4.2%. I found the article a little hard to follow, but two things really struck me: Magazine sales are down 70% since 1995, and this:
I regard the movement of Viz Media, a US affiliated company with Shogakukan and Shueisha in the US and expansion in the European markets as the reason for the expansion of the market.
Someone asks how that can be, and translator Floating_Sakura suggests that it’s a combination of license fees and increased Japanese manga sales to overseas fans. At Icarus Comics, Simon Jones comments
Conversely, what was bad news for manga in Japan was actually good news for us; the Japanese market slump may have been one of the catalysts for the manga explosion in the West. The promise of new revenue streams pushed publishers to approach foreign licensing with more vigor.
At Precocious Curmudgeon, David Welsh wonders whether magazines are slipping because because cell phones are replacing cheap paper.