Vice President of Sales and Distribution Steve Kleckner has left Tokyopop in what Publisher Mike Kiley told ICv2 was a 'minor reorganization.' Kiley would not characterize Kleckner's departure as either a result of the downsizing or a resignation. Fewer than 10 of Tokyopop's estimated 140 employees worldwide are leaving the company as part of the reorganization and Kleckner was the only person at the director level or above to leave. Tokyopop is promoting from within to fill Kleckner's role by naming Holly Smith as the new Director of Sales. Kiley explained the moves by saying that like any company, Tokyopop 'wants to show an adequate return on investment for their stakeholders.'
During Kleckner's time at Tokyopop, the publisher was at the cutting edge of a substantial boom in manga sales and readership. Tokyopop innovated with its 'authentic manga' format and became the leading American publisher of manga in the early years of the new century. As market growth slowed somewhat in 2004 and 2005 and more publishers entered the fray, the market became much more competitive, both on the acquisition side and in acquiring shelf space in key sales venues. In spite of some mega-hits like Fruits Basket and D.N. Angel, over the past two years Tokyopop has lost its pre-eminent position in the market, though thanks to a number of initiatives such as the fumetti-like Cine-Manga, and its innovative line expansion to include first Korean manhwa and then OEL (original English language) manga, Tokyopop has never been less than a very strong #2 on the American manga scene, which is dominated by the top two publishers (Viz and Tokyopop) whose size dwarf the competition.
Although there is a perception that Tokyopop is more and more dependent on its original OEL releases, a survey of new series launches that the publisher has earmarked for March, April, and May reveals that OEL titles make up a relatively small portion of Tokyopop's list. Out of the 24 new series debuting during those months only four could be classified as OEL, while three are Korean manhwa series and seventeen are Japanese manga.