Why manga prices will rise, despite a record year

Two publishers announce price increases. A response to the shortage of paper and the rise in printing costs, which are forcing the industry to reinvent itself once again.

The press release, published Friday, December 3 at 6:02 p.m., had the effect of a bomb. Panini Manga, publisher in particular of Demon Slayer and Banana Fish, announces its decision to increase its selling prices from January 1, 2022. The bill is steep, with an increase ranging from 30 cents for a standard edition to 1 euro for a double perfect edition. A tome of Demon Slayer thus goes from 6.99 to 7.29 euros and a volume of Banana Fish from 16 to 16.99 euros. “Concerning the Perfect double volumes, 16.99 euros remains the equivalent of 2 volumes at 8.50 euros but in large format”, explains the publisher.

Readers approach the news with serenity, like the surfer @Pierrickola, who defines himself as a “heavy reader”, “it is not a surprise”. He says he is “even happy” with the transparency of Panini and hopes “that the other editors do not make higher increases”. The rise in prices will have no impact on the purchases of those who “already find manga very expensive as a hobby”: “individually, the volumes are not very expensive, but there are so many releases and long series that it’s a money pit. ”

The announcement surprised more than one, as the manga market shows insolent health, with nearly 29 million volumes sold between January and August 2021 – and where publishers have almost doubled their turnover. The reasons given are known: rising costs of printing and raw materials necessary for the manufacture of books (paper, cardboard, ink), threat of shortage and transport issues. “It was impossible for us to continue with the current price list in 2022”, specifies in its Panini press release, which did not wish to answer BFMTV’s questions.

2022, the year of the manga price increase?

Long dormant, Panini turned around a handful of years ago thanks to Demon Slayer, more than 2 million copies have passed. After years of neglecting its catalog, the transalpine publisher has also rebuilt a reputation among manga fans with neat re-editions of untraceable classics. The decision of Panini does not concern moreover only the manga. Comics is also concerned – and the increases are passed on to all the group’s subsidiaries (Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Chile and Brazil).

Beyond the single case of Panini, another question arises. Will 2022 be the year of the general increase in the price of manga? Observers predict a gradual increase in prices. Increases could be expected for some at the earliest in the summer or at the start of the 2022 school year. Mass manga (the bestsellers) could be in the crosshairs: manga currently sold at 6.90 euros could reach the 7.50 euros to offset the manufacturing costs.

But nothing is planned immediately. At Véga-Dupuis, a new manga subsidiary of Média-Participations, prices are frozen until July. Beyond that, anything can happen, we confide at the publisher: “We will see how the situation evolves. If everyone increases their prices, that can force thinking.” In any case, it will take several months for publishers to find the right strategy to adopt – with a little additional pressure: what to do during the upcoming title negotiations?

“Psychological threshold”

In the meantime, no publisher plans – officially – for a price increase. Contacted by BFMTV, Ki-oon (Jujutsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia), Kazé (Chainsaw Man, Kaiju 8), Kurokawa (One Punch Man), Kana (Naruto) et Mangetsu () et Mangetsu (Ao Ashi). all state that there is “nothing planned”. Same story with independents like NaBan (Old Boy, Destination Terra), chattochatto (), chattochatto (Endroll Back), The Black Lizard (The Midnight Canteen). “It is not yet on the agenda”, assures his side Stéphane Duval, director of the Black Lizard, whose prices “are already high”.

“It is above all a personal choice”, specifies Nicolas Galiano, founder of chattochatto, a publishing house launched in 2018. “I did not want to exceed the psychological threshold of 8 euros because in such a competitive market, you must above all not lose the solid base of readers that we have. So of course, we are cutting even more on the little margin we make, but at least I always have the satisfaction of telling myself that our prices will remain as they were. always been so far. I’m not saying the prices will never go up, but as long as I can avoid raising the prices of our manga, I will. “

Pika is currently the only one to have communicated after Panini. The House of The attack of the Titans does not foresee an increase, but “to homogenize the prices of the different volumes on the series Happiness, Nine, Origin, Pumpkin Scissors, To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts and Yozakura Quartet“. The volumes went on December 1 from 7.75 to 7.95 euros, an increase of twenty cents.” We will not increase the price of the series in 2022, not reflecting for the moment the increase in the price of paper “, Pika tells us again.

“Manga has grown slower than inflation”

Manga readers are not used to these increases. “Since the euro, the prices of tomes have increased less quickly than inflation”, specifies Christophe Geldron, boss of NaBan. “As the manga audience is mainly young, it is above all sales of youth manga that drive the market. And teens are very sensitive to price increases! Glénat remained for ten years at 6.50 euros per volume. Then catch-ups were made as we went along. “

The independents should be the last to embrace this price hike – for practical reasons. At the Black Lizard, or at Naban, Cornelius and IMHO, the price is indicated directly on the jacket or the cover, unlike the big publishers, which work with price codes, which allow the price of a whole range to be increased in the blink of an eye. ‘eye. If NaBan, for example, is forced to increase its prices, it will have to recall its titles to change the cover. A process which slows down the establishment of a price increase among half of the market players.

Editorial model in jeopardy?

To get around inflation, some publishers are thinking about side ways. “I will rather stay within the normal prices and perhaps think about other formats, other papers”, specifies Christophe Geldron. He is thinking of avenues such as “ancillary collections”, to showcase nuggets at low prices, and double volumes, with a slightly lower quality of paper, or even no jacket. “It is better to have a book in French without a jacket, than no book at all”, believes the one who “does not want to penalize the readers”.

With the price hikes and multiple shortages, however, it is the editorial model of many houses that is in jeopardy. How to make a name and a place if the editions stand out less from the competition? This is the risk of alienating its readers. The rise in prices should in any case not call into question the prestige editions with the allure of a pleiad which are increasingly emerging. Already very luxurious product, the complete in twelve volumes of Lone Wolf & Cub will not be a victim of inflation and will continue to sell at 32 euros, Panini assured. Just like the integrals of Junji Ito at Mangetsu. Special projects that pay off, but on which publishing houses do not base their strategy.

“A disaster”

Is this price increase worrying? “It will be worrying when there is a larger digital offer”, answers Stéphane Duval. Launched last September in France, MangaPlus is however already the reference application to discover the latest chapters of One Piece Where Jujutsu Kaisen. Nicolas Galiano wishes to put into perspective the increase announced by Panini and Pika “The manga remains one of the cheapest books, all types of books combined, So for the moment, there is nothing to worry about. , the day when the manga passes the symbolic bar of 10 euros as an average price, then we can start to worry. “

Christophe Geldron nevertheless wishes to sound the alarm bell. For the self-employed, the rise in prices is a “disaster”, he assures: “I suffered the full brunt of the 20% increase in the cost of printing paper. I end up with a book that I had to print in October and which in November costs me 15 cents more. It forces me to increase the quantities in stock [ndlr: pour réaliser des économies d’échelle], therefore to take on the cash, so as not to have a delusional price on my book. I will have a smaller margin than the one I had before. “What to put into perspective the boom in the sector in 2021.