Wow, the manga news is rolling in faster than I can keep up with it! The big story this morning is that the Japanese publisher Kadokawa has purchased a 51% stake in Yen Press. Yen Press will become Yen Press, LLC, a joint venture of Hachette and Kadokawa; previously, Yen was an imprint of Hachette in its Orbit Books division.
Kadokawa had another big announcement on the anime side: They are partnering with Crunchyroll, which will get exclusive distribution rights for all Kadokawa anime outside of Asia for the next year. And that’s not all:
To bolster KADOKAWA’s planned formation of a publishing joint venture with the major U.S. publisher Hachette Book Group, specializing in manga and light novels (scheduled for May), Crunchyroll and KADOKAWA will seek to strengthen their relationship through a marketing campaign with the book publishing and anime distribution businesses, as well as joint efforts to expand relevant merchandising businesses, in order to maximize the growth potential of Japanese content in the North American market.
What does this mean to you, the reader? Who knows, but Kadokawa does seem to be very interested in the light novel side of things, and Yen has really been making the light novel thing work, with its Yen On line. The Yen Press press release (according to ANN’s translation) says that the plan is to “establish light novels as a new content genre by using Hachette’s existing production and distribution infrastructure, with Kadokawa providing leadership.” Kadokawa publishes a lot of light novels, and they also own BookWalker, which carries digital manga and light novels; perhaps there will be some synergy there, with Yen and/or Crunchyroll.
The questions that remain unanswered are whether Yen Press will continue to license manga from other Japanese publishers (Square Enix in particular—they are the publisher of Black Butler and Pandora Hearts) and whether Kadokawa will license to other publishers.
Hold on to your hats! This promises to be an interesting ride.