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Interview: Yen Press isn't apprehensive on mature manga

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One of my biggest obsessions in recent years has been Yen Press' Sundome. It's a fantastic title that's well worth your read, but the big thing about it is the title walks the borderline between story and porn. As a result, the title lands in the 16+ section, rather than relegating itself to the "adult" section of many shadier stores.

So, I spent a few minutes chatting with Kurt Hassler, the head of Yen Press, about Sundome and what it takes to market a mature title in a mainstream market. It's a short interview, but should provide you with some good insight on what the mature market is like.

If you've got any questions for us or Kurt to answer, send them along, and we'll include some insight in our editorial at the end of the week.

When you license a mature title, you’re going into this knowing that you have a restricted audience. What guides your decision-making in licensing certain titles?

At the end of the day, we really try to take the same approach to licensing our mature content that we take to everything else. Is it a good book?  Is it something that we feel adds richness to our list? Do we think that there’s an audience for the title, and do we think that we can both find and satisfy that audience? If we feel that it makes for a good publishing venture, the criteria that we use really don’t differ that much.

Tell me about Sundome: why you decided to pick it up and the feedback you’ve gotten from it – both critically and commercially.

Sundome actually a title I came across on my first licensing trip to Tokyo. The first volume had just been released and caught my eye. I had a meeting with the publisher later that day and was asking about the book, and the premise was unique enough and the art striking enough that I felt that this would be something that would DEFINITELY stand out in the market here. 

I had a very clear sense that it would get people talking and would make a pretty bold statement about just how diverse Yen was willing to be in its licensing decisions. The reactions we’ve gotten have pretty much borne that out.  Obviously the book isn’t for everyone, but the fans it has found have been die-hard, and critically it’s garnered some pretty bold praise. It’s a really solid title on our list and continues to be a strong seller for us.

Mature titles are harder to market -- you can't put up a cardboard cutout of Kurumi, advertising Sundome in Borders or Barnes and Noble. What do you do to market them? Rely primarily on reviews and word of mouth?

Reviews and word of mouth are really crucial to marketing this kind of book. As you say, you really can’t rely on prominent display for a title like this, so it’s really critical that you get books out to people who are likely to talk about it. This nice thing, though, is that there doesn’t seem to be a want for chatter about Sundome!

How do you see the market changing for this sort of thing within the next five years?

I can’t really say that I would predict much of a change for this sort of thing in the next five years. Certainly I don’t expect to see explosive growth in any particular existing channel. Those markets that support and do well with mature material I think will continue to do so...and to some extent they corner a market because of reluctance amongst their competitors to carry the material. It is entirely possible that digital channels may open up in the next few years to make books like these more easily accessible, but it’s really difficult to say what the future will hold.


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Brad Rice
Brad RiceFounder   gamer profile

Brad helped found in 2006, and currently serves as an Associate He's covered all aspects of the industry, but has a particular preference for the business-end of things, more + disclosures


 



Filed under... #Ero Week #Japanator Original #top stories #yen press

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