Saturday, March 19, 2005

Book chain's manga buyer becomes manga writer

Publishers Weekly (subscription required) takes note of Kurt Hassler's transformation from graphic novel buyer for Borders and Waldenbooks to manga writer for Tokyopop. His first title, Sokora Refugees, will be released in April.

While Hassler says Borders will give the book "a lot of support," he insists, "There's no favoritism, and everybody here at Borders was brought into the loop right from the beginning."

Still, reaction is a little mixed among industry insiders who spoke with PW:
But other manga publishers pointed to a conflict of interest—gatekeeper for a hot category with limited shelf space gets a book deal from a shrewd publisher. Although one publisher told PW, "Anything that helps manga in the marketplace is great," another said, "Give me a break. I'd give him a book contract, too, if it would help get me extra shelf space." Yet another publisher suggested, "Maybe we should give the manga buyer at B&N a book contract?" And a bookseller for a regional bookstore chain noted, "Well, that's kind of a conflict, but I guess it's okay as long as his bosses know what's going on."
Tokyopop's Mike Kiley said the decision was based on the quality of the book, not on who wrote it.