Thursday, January 13, 2011

Borders Troubles Are a Problem for Manga Companies Too

A couple of weeks ago is was reported that Borders, the big book store chain, was in such financial peril that they were suspending payment to vendors and trying to renegotiate their credit lines. That was also around the time when Borders started shedding top execs who were leaving en-mass to look for greener pastures.

Today ICv2 is reporting that Borders account has been frozen by Diamond Booksellers, and that they will no longer make any shipments to Borders until they can get their account back in good standing:

"Diamond Book Distributors has troubled book chain Borders on hold, and is not shipping it any new products or restocks from its client publishers, publishers and Diamond confirm. Diamond has been talking to its client publishers about the situation and reports that they are supportive of that decision.
DBD represents a number of important mid-range graphic novel publishers, including Dark Horse, IDW, Image, Dynamite, Oni, Top Shelf and Udon. Three of those publishers, Image, Oni, and Dark Horse, published 12 of the Top 20 Graphic Novels in the adult fiction category in bookstores in December, according to Bookscan."

None of the big book chains are doing well, but Borders is especially relevant to Manga fans because they account for about 20% of the total new manga sales in the US, and are one of the most important customers to US manga firms like Viz, Tokyopop, and others. Even with all the online retailers put together (even Amazon), bookstores still account for more than 75% of total manga sales, so it's bookstores that overwhelmingly make the industry as it exists today possible.

ICv2 has a good article on this here, though frankly I'm not drinking the coolaid regarding the big manga sellers being able to recoup their looses because they sell through big distributors. When Circuit City was in trouble, everyone though someone would buy them out and all the vendors would be made right, but when they went under, all the big distributors got hosed and all the stores just closed up. Not all Borders customers will just go somewhere else, a certain percentage of sales from these bigs chains is always lost somewhere in a bankruptcy.

I don't think the failure of Borders could be as devastating to the US manga industry as the failure of Suncoast's parent was to the Anime side a few years back, but it would certainly give the US manga industry a haircut at a time when it's already struggling to maintain it's market.

I guess we'll see what happens.


SFF said...

A typically insightful analysis and the kind I enjoy reading here at the side blog.

I heard a story about Borders troubles a few weeks back and once again things continue to move forward on shaky ground despite all of these false positves I'm hearing from news and media outlets.

I never could understand why Borders was so successful to begin with. Their prices are exorbitant. They are through the roof. I don't know who can afford them. I suppose the books aren't too bad because they are generally listed on the cover and they do mark down with some sales percentages, but the CD and DVD market at Borders is off the charts.

Why would anyone buy there when there are alternatives like RACS or others?

Robert said...

Why would anyone buy there when there are alternatives like RACS or others?

It's is quite the mystery, isn't it? :-)

For manga customers, places like Borders have become the library. I always see folks sitting in the aisle in front of the manga section there reading books and I wonder if they actually buy them or not. For those that do, they service the fans who just can't wait a couple of days for their stuff to come in the mail. We certainly do get a lot of trade in manga with Borders stickers on them.

SFF said...

Very good. That is true. Now that you mention it, I'm often walking over legs in the Manga section usually to get to the kids section with my kids.

You make a valid point there.