Ilan Strasser of Fat Moose Comics in Whippany, New Jersey has decided to withdraw from the manga business:
Well, I'm finally giving up the manga ghost. The final nail in the coffin for me was a family trip to the big mall 20 minutes from our home. The Waldenbooks inside had nine girls looking through all the offerings Walden had available. The display area for the manga titles was at least 8 feet long by 12 or 13 feet high. I used to sell $600-$800 a month in manga books; now I sell about $150 a month to one father/daughter combo and about the same to another individual buyer, as well as one copy of Ranma 1/2 each month to the daughter of a reservist of mine. All the other young ladies that used to come to the store on a weekly basis have disappeared. Why? Because the chains get the books 2-4 weeks ahead of us.
To be honest, I knew it was a losing battle more than six months ago when my daughter asked me to take her to the local Barnes & Noble 2 or 3 times a week. I asked her why, since I was bringing the new manga titles home every week for her to read anyway. She said that she couldn't wait for the books to come to my store. She ended up dividing the titles into those she would read when I brought them home and those she would read at Barnes & Noble weeks before I actually got them. Therefore, starting with the July Previews, I will continue to order manga books by special order for the three people who still buy from me. Other than their orders, I will order no more manga, not even new titles. My daughter won't be mad. She'll just go read them for free at B&N; and I won't lose any more money chasing a market that I supported for years, only to have the publishers give my sales to the chains. From here on in, with everything I order form Diamond, if it doesn't exist on a level playing field, whether that be prices or delivery time or whatever, I will not order that product.
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