A Comparison of the Scale of U.S. and Japanese Manga Markets

imgAnimeAnime is currently running a column called "100 Questions About Anime & Manga Overseas," where Japanese fans send in their questions about the foreign Anime and Manga scene. One of the questions asked was "How does the scale of the U.S. manga market compare to Japan's manga market?" Below is a translation of the response:

Hi, It's Romi, again.

I recently receive the following question:

Q. I've heard that today manga is translated and published around the world, but how are their sales overseas? I haven't heard anything about the circulation of manga in the overseas market.

A. You must have heard about the popularity of manga overseas either on a newspaper or magazines.

The consumers don't have concrete information on circulation figures because the fans don’t pay attention to the sales of each title. When you are in a bookstore, you don’t think something like "wow, this title has sold over 100,000 copies, I have to get this."

Who pays attention to the circulation of titles? The booksellers. The consumers hardly know anything about the circulation; however, circulation information can be found in documents in the publishing business field. Sometimes the information is used as promotional material for popular titles. Read newsletters or press releases carefully, you will find information on the circulation of popular titles.

Take "Fullmetal Alchemist" as an example. Fullmetal Alchemist was the bestselling title in 2005 in the U.S. The source of this information was from Bookstandard. You can find information on the circulation of titles here.

An explanation of the data can be found in "A Look at Comics & Graphic Novel Chart Toppers: 2005-2006"

"In 2005, four volumes of Fullmetal moved more than 167,000, and in 2006, all 8 original volumes have sold 181,000 combined." (Source: "The Book Standard," A Look at Comics & Graphic Novel Chart Toppers: 2005-2006, August 18, 2006 By Patrick J. Eves)

The circulation in 2006 isn't out yet.

Between 2005-2006, the 8 volumes of FMA have sold 348,000 copies combined, which means each volume has sold approximately 43,500 copies. In the U.S., a "hit" usually means the title has sold over 10,000 copies, so 43,500 is a considerable number in the U.S. market.

Japanese fans may ask: "Is this really a 'hit'?” The Japanese manga market is tremendously large. In Japan, all 14 volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist have sold over 20,000,000 copies combined, each volume has sold over 1,430,000 copies."

In the U.S. publishing business, circulation numbers like these are treated as confidential and are processed by information service agencies like Nielsen BookScan. The firms are paying for the information.

USAToday's "Top 150" is also a great source. It's a big deal to appear on USAToday's list, since it ranks all the books, not just manga. I heard Naruto and "Fruit basket" were on it.

Translated by T. Ohara