Printed Books Aren’t Dying, But Japanese Manga Is Boosting eBook Sales

Printed Books Aren’t Dying Yet, But Japanese Manga Is Boosting eBook Sales

The era of printed books has been on the decline for quite some time. Fortunately, according to a recent study, it appears Japanese manga is responsible for keeping the print industry buoyant. Strangely, the immensely popular graphic novel industry is also slowly heralding the decline of printed books.

Neither the print industry nor printed books are dead, yet. However, they aren’t the only variant to consume written or drawn content anymore. Evidently, the eBook market has been rising steadily for the past two years. Interestingly, nowhere is the rise of the digital version of books and comics more evident than in the land of the rising sun. Last year, Japan’s eBook market surged ahead in revenue. According to a study, sales of digital copies managed to earn $22 million in 2016. While the number may not be very impressive, the revenue rose about 13.2 percent as compared to previous year, reported Good Reader.

Such a Year-On-Year (YoY) revenue growth confirms that the digital eBook industry is climbing at an exceptional rate. Moreover, it also means that the eBook version of a book or a novel is being steadily preferred over the print version. Incidentally, the most notable industry that has felt the winds of change is the Japanese manga. Many graphic novel companies have steadily adopted the digital route for distribution of licensed manga content in the past year. Meanwhile some companies may have been forced to go digital due to the changing market dynamics.

Some notable companies that have been expanding their digital catalog of manga include Kadokawa and Hobby Japan. While quite a few companies are putting all categories of manga in their collection online, viewers are increasingly found to be choosing platforms that cater to a particular genre of manga. Niche websites such as Osoroshi Ya exclusively offer horror manga. These websites allow readers to browse through a highly curated manga catalog. These sites claim that having a specific category helps readers discover their favorite as well as new titles quickly and efficiently without having to browse through a long list of categories. There are several categories of manga currently in circulation, and such platforms claim to have taken the approach after studying the needs and expectations of readers.

The rising popularity of eBooks and digital copies of manga is evident from the fact that recent anime adaptations, too, have been geared towards online distribution. Multiple anime titles on Daisuki and Crunchyroll have been based on manga that has been exclusive to the digital platforms, which are also known as web manga.

What’s even more astonishing is the fact that many popular series, like the new Hunter x Hunter, are sent to the digital platform for online distribution before hitting the presses for a print release. If that’s not all, many publications appear to have completely ditched the printed version of manga in favor of the digital version. According to the report, several publications have gone or are planning to go digital as their readers have steadily moved on to digital copies, thereby forcing the companies to adopt the route.

Printed books might not be dead yet, but the printing industry and publishing houses are feeling the pressure. In fact, Taiyo-Sya, the fifth largest publishing house of books and magazines in Japan, declared bankruptcy in 2016.

Fortunately, there is sufficient time before the printing industry goes belly up. Although the eBook sales jumped by 13.2 percent last year, the print publishing industry lost a mere 0.7 percent of its consumers. The printing industry is currently worth $6.4 billion, which needless to add, is a staggering 3,000 times bigger and more lucrative than digital books and manga, reported Crunchyroll.

However, companies like Taiyo-Sya declaring bankruptcy is surely a wake-up call for the printing industry. Experts claim the company’s financial troubles might force many others to increasingly favor the online distribution route. Interestingly, many new releases of manga in 2017 are now either digital-only or digital-first.

[Featured Image by Chris McGrath/Getty Images]