Monday, March 29, 2004

The retail display of manga (and other stuff)? 

Now, this is a pretty interesting thread, IMO. Talks about how people think titles should be displayed at retail stores. Should titles be split up by age across the store? B&N used to have teen manga in the teen book section, but aparantly many people didn't know that and just thought they had a bad selection. Now they have it all grouped together. Even if they are grouped together, should there be age or genre distinctions in there? Should mature titles be shrink-wrapped? Are age-ratings on the books doing enough? Should American comics in a "manga style" or even Korean and Chinese comics be in the manga section? Fans and retailers weigh in on it with an variety of opinions..

Personally, I tend to think of comics as a medium, so I prefer not having everything totally mixed together with novels. I'd hate to have to go all around the store just to pick up different comics, though it may just be fandom speaking. Having a couple of copies mixed into other sections may not be a bad idea, though.

But after having everything in a comics section, I'm a lot less sure. It has generally worked fine for me to have the american and japanese titles separate (even across the store in Media Play), but what does that do for showing all the diversity? Manga is just a point of origin and not a genre, so should they really be separated. Personally, I see too much separation even online. A lot more crossover is happening between the two communities of fans lately, but it still seems a bit tenuous.

Just to pick out an example, how about Comics Worth Reading. I love the site, and it was absolutely invaluable to me to get a handle on comics after re-entering the scene. In the Recommended section, everything is mixed together, but for the single reviews, there is a Manga Reviews area. But it is a tricky widget. Marvel and DC have sections which seems fine due to the amount of output they have. The rest is Independant. But does manga fit as Independant? And even though their outputs are large, is there enough reviews to make separate Tokyopop and Viz sections worthwhile? You could go by foreign titles translated from non-english versus local, but then what happens if DC releases manga, as it sounds like they may? And things are further complicated by stuff like Geisha and Rumble Girls being listed in the manga section, though they have American creators. No easy answers, but just goes to show how hard it is to organize and label things.

And even on message boards.. a lot of them have sections either by company or subject or broad scope (superheros, indy, etc.). But there is often a manga section. Actually, a lot of the time it is an anime/manga section. On the one hand, I like this, since I can often find something of interest easily... Then again, I hate the fact that manga gets sidelined into its own area where people from both sides can ignore each other. A lot of times when a topic involving manga comes up on something like Newsarama, some interesting dialogue comes up. A lot of times there is still people ranting against manga and such, but I think it is lessening as time goes on and hopefully will continue to do so (like not every news story on comics has the Bam Pow!... Comics aren't just for kids anymoe spiel..).

But getting back to the subject at hand... I'm basically ok with ratings on these things. People make the argument about no ratings on books, but I think everyone is just way more sensitive to pictures than to writing. One of the posters on the thread points out how he used to have his Mom buy sci-fi books for him that were pretty much pornographic, but never knew because it was text. Can't do much against that.. I don't mind plastic, but as also was pointed out, they tend to get ripped off...

I suppose at this point, my preferred thing would be to have all graphic novels mixed together in the same section, but perhaps a basic age or genre split. Though I still think the sections are small enough to not HAVE to be split up, it might not be the best thing to have little kids flipping through Card Captor Sakura and Paradise Kiss at the same time. Then again, if they want that stuff I'm sure they'll seek it out anyway, and the divisive thing would have to be a parent checking out the rating or flipping through it before purchase..

Anyone else find it funny how, for the most part, things are now getting separated by size more than anything else?

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