Tokyopop restructures

Tokyopop announced today that it is restructuring, splitting off its film and digital units into a separate company. ICv2 has the 411:

Publishing production will be reduced by roughly 50% through the rest of the year, reducing output to roughly 200-225 titles per year from a planned total of over 500 titles. Tokyopop CEO and Chief Creative Officer of the Tokyopop Group, Stuart Levy, explained the reasons for the reduction in output. “The time is now for us to focus our publishing business to overcome current market challenges. Few releases will allow for less cannibalization at retail.”

39 positions are being cut, and some execs are being reshuffled:

Executive changes accompany the restructuring. Group President and COO John Parker will take over as Publisher at Tokyopop, Inc. Marco Pavia, previously Director of Marketing, has been promoted to Associate Publisher.

Mike Kiley, who has been serving as Publisher at Tokyopop Inc., will take over as the key senior executive in Tokyopop Media, reporting to Levy.

I’ll update as more news comes in. Feel free to post your thoughts in comments.

UPDATE: Calvin Reid has a report up at Publishers Weekly.

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  1. I wonder where they’re going to cut: slower release on epic volumes of books from overseas, or will the OEL go the way of the do-do?

  2. They’re transitioning towards their OEL. Licenses are getting really pricey and include restrictions on e-rights.

    They’ll be taking the Manga Pilot properties and reformatting/repackaging them for TP Media. I’m guessing they’ll try to build a library of content to syndicate over mobile phones and other portable devices.

  3. danielle leigh says


    I feel old, who wants e-everything’ed media? Not this customer.

    Just. No. Tokyopop.

    Way to plan to fail at the one thing you *were* doing well with (i.e. being a book publisher — be it manga or OEL books) and now decide new media is somehow going to be the fix here.

    Unless I’m missing something here I don’t see an upside to this (although, it is true, Tokyopop puts out way too many books on a monthly basis that a lot of people aren’t reading. Which could be how they’ve gotten here I suppose….this could be the only way they could correct for being nudged-out of licensing the “you now have permission to print your own money” titles. Fruits Basket can only you take you so far….)

  4. Agh, no no no! I approve of trimming down their catalogue and paring the weak sellers (there’s some seriously schlocky stuff in there) but moving TOWARDS OEL isn’t the way to go! They have some genuinely good titles under their belt, but they aren’t getting the attention they need. Understandably, licenses are getting expensive- so how about picking and choosing carefully for a select few, and then backing them appropriately? Their sales strategy is a bit of a mess.

  5. I should probably back up and say that my last post was an educated guess. But really, they’ve been trying to foster OEL and explore new media for the past few years. This would be yet another step in that direction.

    It’s not like they’re going to stop publishing next quarter. And I agree with the PR that too many titles cannibalize the market. If anything, it’s more like a course correction.

    Between the problems with Borders and the American economy in a bit of a nosedive, it’s a smart move.

  6. Basically it seems to me that TOKYOPOP is stepping away from being a licensed manga publisher and into being a western comics publisher— which will be fine for them if they pick *good* comics.

  7. Most if not all of their OEL manga are pretty pathetic. Seven Seas does a much better job in that department (even though most of their titles are sorry as well). At least they LOOK interesting. Hollow Fields is an example of where OEL should be heading. Stuff that is written and drawn as well if not better than a lot of Japanese titles. Wouldn’t that be ironic if Tokyopop cancelled all the series they picked up from ADV? Also ironic is the fact that because Tokyopop announced this, people will be buying less of their manga, afraid to try a new series or start because of fears the title will get axed. I feel that the company should have put on the table exactly which titles will not be published to save a lot of speculation that will hurt their sales even further. Is there a possibility that at the end of the day, it will be only Del Rey and Viz left standing as major players? You know how Tokyopop could solve all of this? Commission a manga adaptation of Harry Potter (ok, this is probably out of their league)! They did really well with the Warriors adaptation sales-wise. Or get the rights to the Twilight series. Can you imagine how many millions you could make off those franchises? They have needed another big gun besides Fruits Basket for a long time. Surely there have to be some titles in Japan that could be a big hit here without having Shonen Jump on them. Did anyone really expect Fruits Basket to do as well as it did? You have to take some chances.

  8. I think TP might have issues building good OEL content if they keep putting off artists with their poor contracts and creators rights issues- though they’re certainly making moves in terms of original titles based on domestic licenses like Star Trek, Warriors, the Henson titles etc.— titles that have a mass market potential. With original works, I find it odd that Brigid points out in her other post on this all that TP have produced great titles [which are all titles I loved btw], all three artists are now working for *other* publishers who are just as capable of making great domestic comics.

    I’m kind of doubting we’ll see them cancel many japanese titles- I think it’s more likely poor sellers will just get shifted to an annual or twice annual positioin as they have in the past, and TP will continue doing what they’ve been doing [licensing shorter series], just not licensing as many new titles overall. The number of releases will go down, but there’s be a focus on keeping better selling titles on schedule, while having less stellar ones put out less often.


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