Saturday, October 06, 2007


I've heard that manga haven't been taking off in the UK as they have in the US (where the category has seen double-digit sales increases every single year so far this decade), and I guess it's true if someone like Jonathan McCalmont can write "Indeed, despite a seemingly ever-expanding array of western publishers acquiring a vested interest in manga reaching a wider audience, manga has long struggled with getting a toe-hold in the mainstream."

Manga, in the US at least, is already more mainstream than SF/Fantasy is; it leapfrogged over us in SFF, and over the US comics industry, directly into the pockets of several million young women. If you think of "the mainstream" as being the literary center, then it's isn't, of course, but the literary world is actually a sidebar genre of its own, and usually less read than the healthier genres. The real mainstream is made of the books that millions of people buy with their own money and read -- and as those people are more often female than male, those books tend to follow the patterns of reading of women. (Cookbooks, relationship books, romances by the cartload and books that aren't exactly romances but aren't exactly not, either.) The really interesting thing about manga is that it's been taken up by young women, from eight to twenty-something, and read in vast numbers by those women. (The biggest audience for books, for some time, is women in their forties and up; they read more, as a class, than anyone else.)

And the interesting question for the future is how this generation's love of manga is going to play out in their reading tastes and habits over the next few decades. Will they continue to love manga? Will they be less likely to drift away from reading in their twenties and thirties? Will their mass interest turn illustrated stories into a mostly female ghetto like the romance novel? And what does this mean for their tastes in non-fiction? They're going to be a fascinating generation to watch age.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Not sure if you ever saw this, but there is now a line of romance novels that is trying to grab that audience-the plots are sf/f-oriented, and the cover art is manga-inspired. They're called Shomi. I'm interested to know if it works.

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