Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Checking in on Tokyopop's 'Manga After Hours'

In an interview earlier this month with Publishers Weekly, Tokyopop publicity director Susan Hale revealed the publisher's plans to target women readers through a campaign called "Manga After Hours."

Although the first series in the marketing initiative were announced -- Happy Mania, Tramps Like Us, and the Erica Sakurazawa collection -- few other details were provided.

So, I contacted Hale today to learn more about Tokyopop's efforts to reach the "chick-lit" crowd.

"Basically, 'Manga After Hours' is a formula right now -- it is 'chick-lit' in manga format," she said. "We've got a selection of books that appeals to that under-serviced demographic -- the modern woman. The audience is older than the typical shojo manga reader, and the stories are more developed and grounded in reality. These are stories that are not fantastical; these are stories a woman can relate to. They can understand and identify with these stories. Being in manga format is a benefit -- most stories can be read in an hour or so, making them the perfect companion literature for an evening bubblebath, an afternoon at the beach, the train or bus ride to work, or a lazy moment on the couch."

Hale said there are no immediate plans to officially brand or imprint the three series.

"We are focusing on three series to begin with, and should they prove popular with this demographic, it is a very real possibility that we develop a line for it," she said.

Instead, Tokyopop will market the books as summer reading material, promoting them on its main website, its e-shop, and through banner advertising.

"We are also investigating retailer-level positioning and promotions (coupons or discounts), but do not have confirmed plans yet," Hale said.