After Hachette’s recent announcement that its manga publishing arm, Yen Press, would be joining Orbit, the mega-publisher’s science fiction and fantasy imprint, and that Kurt Hassler would be taking over as the sole Publishing Director of Yen Press (see “Yen Joins Orbit”), ICv2 caught up with Hassler and asked him a few questions about the effect of the internal reorganization on Yen Press and the current state of the manga market in North America.


Will this reorganization result in any change in the trade dress of Yen Press titles—i.e. the addition of an Orbit symbol, etc.?
As stated in the press release, Yen Press will continue to develop as an independent imprint.  It’s worth pointing out that this is an internal organizational change more than anything and should at a consumer level be largely invisible.  The trade dress of Yen’s titles will remain unchanged.  The Orbit logo will not be added to Yen titles.

Will this result in any changes to Yen Press’ release schedule for 2009?
Not at all.

Roughly how many titles do you anticipate publishing in 2009 under the Yen imprint?
Yen will release about 100 titles in 2009 under the Yen imprint.

What’s your take on the current state of the manga market in North America?  Is it still growing?  What kinds of titles are doing well?
I think that the current state of the manga market in North America is solid.  We’ve still been seeing growth.  Certainly Yen has seen significant growth in the year since we started publishing.  The obvious challenge for the foreseeable future is how much growth potential is there given the current economic climate overall.  That’s where just like every other publisher we need to make sure that we’re releasing the absolute best titles we can into the market, and given the fan reaction to some of our most recent announcements, I think that Yen is ahead of the game in that regard.  As for what sorts of titles are doing well, you can always make generalizations that vampire books or whatnot are the “hot” thing right now, but at the end of the day the popularity of a property is determined by the individual license.  I think that’s the real challenge that retailers face as they make their buying decisions each month out of the hundreds of new titles out there.


How has Yen Plus been doing?  Any changes planned for Yen Plus going forward?
The reaction to Yen Plus has been overwhelmingly positive.  Based on the feedback we’ve received, fans have been thrilled with the title mix and diversity of the selection.  We don’t have any changes planned at the moment (other than some lineup changes that will be clarified in the coming months), but the key to success is always revising your strategies based on an evolving market.

How has your reporting structure changed as a result of Yen joining the Orbit Division?
Based on the reorganization, I will report to Tim Holman who has been placed at the head of the new Orbit division, and Tim will report directly to David Young, our CEO.