It is one of the best selling comic books in the world and has featured the serialisation of countless manga titles that have gone on to conquer the media landscape. and in the US, it sells 125,000 a month.
But now even Shonen Jump has heard the call of the digital siren. To the extent that it is shutting down its print operations in favour of a weekly digital version, Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, and reducing its price to 99 cents in the USA.
Alvin Lu, Senior VP – General Managing Editor at Viz has answered questions from the undoubtably curious at ICV2 but this is a major, radical move from a publisher that other publishers will have no watch with anticipation.
Add to that the news that Viz are launching Sublime, a new digital imprint for Yaoi comics, manga featuring male gay stories for a femal audience, with some print publication in the future, makes Marvel and DC day-and-date digital release strangely antiquarian. Especially when you compare price points.
In December, they will launch with Love Pistols and Dannasama To Mitdugetsuchu, with Ousama No Bed, Sweet Pool and more to follow.
Of course, Shonen Jump has always concentrated on giving value for money, and tight profit margins, whereas traditional comics publishing has rather large margins, so it is a different business model. And the magazine will stay in print in Japan, where it sells millions.
But the question hangs heavy. Could Marvel, could DC ever envisage something similar?
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