Lots more folks weighing in, including:
We’re hearing that editorial cuts at Tokyopop include Rob Tokar, Luis Reyes, Paul Morrissey, Hope Donovan and Tim Beedle. Which means the two editors in charge of the Manga PIlot Program. who were defending it just last week are now gone. Oops.
We’ve also heard that marketing and sales staff have been cut, rumored to be because Tpop is now using Harper Collins’ sales and marketing staff.
Heidi also mentions that TP’s sole PR person Susan Hale was let go, which is very sad news, as Susan was an utter joy to work with and always helpful whenever I was working on a story. I hope she lands on her feet soon.
A reorganization is considerably better than bankruptcy protection, and I know a few people who thought that was what was coming down the pipe. Which isn’t to say that it won’t, but it hasn’t, and there’s a big difference.
As Tokyopop isn’t a publicly traded company (and doesn’t have to play these investor games if they don’t want to), I have to wonder why bother with a reorganisation at all, unless of course one expects a part of the business to tank, tank hard, and tank soon.
But it remains to be seen how many of those books will be put out in future. Part of the announcement was that Tokyopop was cutting 39 positions from their publishing arm (out of how many? dunno) and radically reducing their release schedule, going from over 500 books a year to as few as 200. Says Stuart Levy, CEO, “Few releases will allow for less cannibalization at retail.” Which seems to imply that they think people aren’t buying TP book 1 because they’re buying TP book 2. I don’t think that’s right, based on my own experience: instead of buying TP book 1, I buy a Viz or a Del Rey or an Aurora (when it comes to josei) title.
Honestly, I’m happy this happened. I was expecting bankruptcy by November 2007. Instead, for perhaps the first time ever, Tokyopop has made the right move by cutting back on how much spagetti they throw at the wall to see what sticks. I don’t doubt the turmoil will take several months to settle down and many of us creators will be cut, but from a business perspective, this means that in the long run, they could potentially be better off. They cut back also by deciding not to exhibit at San Diego or Anime Expo which means less time spent going to conventions and more time focusing on actual creative material; it’s the little things that count, and when employees run up a thousand dollar tab just on drinks, that hurts not just the company but the creators as well.
It’s harder to do that in book publishing, although with Borders shedding personnel and a future of digital rights publishing looking like it will come without the comforting and profitable-to-many infrastructure that’s developed around print, it’s hard not to be slightly disturbed by strong moves like this one. In fact, you could look at Tokyopop as another specialty publisher having to make changes or risk dying off altogether, and not much of a unique news story at all.