Vertical Comics

How do you feel libraries affect book sales? Are they generally a positive force (ie. they buy more books than otherwise would be sold) or a negative force (the # of readers who would have otherwise bought a book and get it from the library instead outweighs the number of books sold to libraries)?

This is an interesting question. And like many sales questions... It depends.
But let me expand on that a bit.
When I first started at Vertical, I thought expanding the library market would be a great idea. We would add a new channel. One that restocks if books are lost/damaged or if lending numbers are high. There are many libraries across the country so they can fill in for the drop in chain stores.
Well, it isn't a bad idea. But it is also a tough sell depending on what you publish. Vertical's catalog isn't really youth focused. We have a lot of 16+ and 18+ content. And while programs like YALSA have selected some of our books in the past, even such programs haven't really moved the needle much.
I kinda feel that libraries are good indicators for what the masses want. And not so much the best place for the middle or the fringes of reading (unless you happen to have a huge library/library system in your area).
So while books like Twin Spica, Tezuka titles, Chi, and the Shinkai books...the rest are maybe sampled or often ignored.
Libraries were at one point up to 18-20% of our sales back in 2010. We even went to ALA from 2010 to 2011. Now I think that's down to around 3-5%. Meanwhile store sales and online sales are going up for us. Go figure.
So it isn't something we ignore, cause our distributor has a devoted library sales department. But it is also something we do not always go after with every title we release.
On the novels side that's a different story. And library sales are much more significant there. We do better in the academic libraries world though.
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Would you guys publish a small series (2 volumes) even if it wasn't really requested on your surveys?

Definitely. Many of our shorts are not well represented in surveys.

Hi, correct me if i'm mistaken, but printers used to make the copies all have preset page size/lengths/cuts right? I can't help but notice that, on a lot of the manga I own, the cover binding always ends up a tad shorter than the actual page size. Why is that? It's not a huge problem, but it bugs me

I am not a printer so I do not know exactly why that is.
However, I do know this... Sometimes covers and pages are not printed at the same location. Sometimes cuts are off. Sometimes glue can be overused/underused.
I cannot say why for your books (or mine for that matter) but that (or being a wee-bit long) is actually very common for all books.

What are your thoughts on translation notes? I thought the goal of a good translation was to avoid them and provide a reasonable localization that doesn't require them. Ignoring original author preferences for specific terms, are there other places where you feel they are necessary or unavoidable?

We try to avoid them.
It is hard to do so in culturally sensitive books - Seki comes to mind - but they are often not always necessary.

Do you know if manga publishers ever work with anime distributors locally (within North America, specifically)? It seems like a rarity if it happens at all, but I feel like it would make sense for them to work together since they tend to have overlapping interests. I'd like to see more cross promo.

We have worked with anime distributors before. Fans of Summer Wars might remember that we did a cross-promotion deal with Funimation. We are working on the Chi's Sweet Home DVDs. And we have some other things up our sleeves.
But yeah, if we can get in touch with the anime companies we are generally interested in doing stuff.

Have you been keeping up with Oshimi's new series,'happiness'? What are your thoughts so far? Normally I don't go for vampire series, but since he's one of my favourite authors i'm going to give it a shot.

Of course we are.
It is a slow build so far but I like where it is going as of late.

Why do you think it is that manga comes in so many shapes and sizes? Obviously for compilations and omnibus books it makes sense, but a lot of releases from different and sometimes the same publishers are different. Why isn't there one universal size?

First even in Japan there are no standard sizes. Shonen and shojo have a "size" but most JP publishers has a size that is a few millimeters different. Josei and seinen vary alot. Book to book they may change even within the same magazine.
Some US pubs try to keep the JP sizes to reduce moire effects (if files are bad, wonky, old). Sometimes the mangaka ask to keep the JP sizes.
Then different printers have different sizes. So that makes a difference.
Ultimately this isn't unusual. Books are like that. And they should be that way. Books are like people; they are and should be different!

Who is in your regards the best manga artist in terms of art and vice versa the best in story telling ?

I honestly rarely ever consider mangaka in this way. I have favorites but in terms of best I do not think that is even useful.
I like the following artists for different reasons - Hideo Azuma (character design), Usamaru Furuya (flexibility), Kentaro Miura (backgrounds), and Shigeyuki Fukumitsu (layout).
Writing is tough cause script writing and visual showing are different things and mangaka do not always write their scripts. But I do like how the following artists "show" their stories: Tagro, Yukari Ichijo, Mochiru Hoshisato, Naoki Yamamoto, and Seiiki Tsushida.
I am not sure if any of these could be considered the best. But they inspire me.

I can't wait for the makoto shinkai art book. Will it have a lot of that scenery porn that he's known for?

That's almost all of it actually.

How do you prefer to travel?

Train, plane, boat...then car. You could add foot but I haven't done long trek hiking in ages (did a lot of that in Japan back in the 90's).

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