The first issue of Shonen Jump from Viz has sold far beyond expectations in all channels. The first printing of 250,000 copies was sold out before release, and there are now over 300,000 in distribution, with the book on its third printing. Those numbers blow away the Viz target of 100,000 copies within the first six months (see 'Interview with Viz Management'). And with a $4.95 cover price, this issue will generate well over $1 million at retail even after returns. It will be one of the biggest North American comic titles of 2002 and will threaten Dark Knight Strikes Again #2 and #3, probably its closest competitors, atop the dollar rankings in all channels combined for the year.
Comic stores serviced by Diamond, which accounted for a relatively small portion of initial orders (see 'Top 300 Comics -- November'), have more than doubled initial orders with reorders. And although sell-through numbers from other channels (which include newsstand outlets serviced by Curtis and book, video, and record chains) are not in yet, Viz Director of Manga Sales and Marketing Dallas Middaugh told us, 'Initial word from our buyers and retailers has been that the magazine has been 'flying off the shelves.'' Among the reasons for the unexpectedly strong sales was the inclusion of a free Yu Gi Oh card, a promotional element that was not known at the time orders were solicited (see 'Shonen Jump #1 To Include Ultra-rare Yu Gi Oh Card').
The release of the first issue, scheduled for Tuesday, November 26, actually began about a week earlier. Diamond accounts received the book on Wednesday, November 20, as did retailers buying directly from Viz and some Curtis accounts. When Viz became aware that copies were streeting earlier than scheduled, it requested that copies be pulled off sale. Diamond notified its accounts that books were to be pulled off sale on Friday, November 22nd, and other retailers were also requested to take the books off the shelves.
We asked Middaugh about the Viz street date strategy. 'Our intent is that all retailers put it out on the same date,' he said. 'We're not trying to give anyone an edge.' He acknowledged, however, that the effect of setting Tuesday as the street date, in accordance with distribution practices in most channels through which Shonen Jump is sold, means that comic stores will be receiving the book one day after the street date in the future, because Diamond ships its weekly shipments to arrive in comic stores on Wednesdays. Viz is in the process of reducing the number of ways in which its products reach the market (see 'Viz Lowers the Boom'), but this incongruity will remain even when that process is complete.