US Manga Sales up in 2021, but Publishers Face Supply Issues

US Manga Sales

As plenty of industries faced uncertainty in 2020 due to COVID-19, the manga publishing industry was no different. Delays occurred where publication dates were pushed back. But in a recent piece from Publisher’s Weekly, which is a trade publication for booksellers, it has been noted that US manga sales are going up.

Compared to the first quarter of 2020, the first quarter of 2021 has seen a 3.6 million unit increase in manga sales. Publishers including Viz Media, Yen Press, and Kodansha USA have all noted the US manga sales increase.

Yae Sahashi, vice president of sales and marketing at Kodansha, said the following:

Print manga sales rocketed to a new high over holiday 2020 and, after a plateau in January, rose even higher in March and April. In recent weeks, point of sale for the category has quadrupled year over year, even if you discount the negative impact of Covid-19 on sales last March.

And this massive increase in sales did not come out of the blue. As Kevin Hamric, vice president of publishing sales at Viz Media, told Polygon: “Manga sales have been steadily increasing for the past several years but 2020 saw an explosive growth. During the COVID crisis readers were binging on manga series — especially those that have an anime tie-in.”

US Manga: Physical Copy Popularity in 2021

Physical copies of manga have always been popular. As of publication, My Hero Academia, Volume 27 and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 1 are sitting in the 5th and 6th spots of the New York Times Best Seller List for graphic books and manga.

COVID-19 gave fans plenty of time to get into both old and new series, including pulling writer Dale Bashir into the continuing world of One Piece

Fruits Basket has also seen a rise in sales, even “surpassing the historic sales that the iconic shojo manga had back in the 2000s, during the original ‘manga boom,’” according to Mark de Vera, the sales and marketing director at Yen Press.

Supply Chain Issues

With such a large increase in US manga sales, the industry is facing an issue. With publishing more books comes supply chain problems. Manga publishers have reported printing and shipping delays that are tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Book printing can see several weeks of delays while printer capacity is stretched. They have to make decisions based around what they can print due to the limited capacity.

Even with supply chain issues and printing delays, US manga publishers seem very excited for the future. Sahashi said, “We feel very fortunate and excited to be publishing at a time when interest and enthusiasm for anime and manga is at an all-time high.”

Have you been reading more manga in the past year? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on Twitter.