Marketing is a crucial element of any successful publishing enterprise, especially for a book that is intended for a niche market. When the target audience is small, it is infinitely more important to market the books strategically. Otherwise, a publishing house risks losing its core audience, the customers of a niche market. Boys' love (or yaoi) manga is intended for one such niche market.
This paper will explore the marketing practices of the yaoi manga publishing industry in America, and the reasons behind those practices. The marketing efforts of this genre are unique because of the specialized audience. To help illustrate a complete picture of the yaoi market, I've compiled research from other sources, and have also conducted an online survey of potential book buyers. I also spoke to boys' love manga publishers via e-mail and visited local bookstores to see how the yaoi manga appears at the point of sale. But first: what is yaoi manga?
[...] One yaoi manga reader said in the survey, “Unless you've read a lot of manga you probably couldn't tell it was yaoi from its cover alone anyway, so the stores don't have to worry about children or easily scarred people.” On the cover, the title always appears in larger typeface than the manga-ka's name. Very few manga-ka have become incredibly recognizable in America, with the exception Sanami Matoh, whose new books feature a large banner on the cover saying “From the Creator of FAKE”. [...]
[...] I can't say why these girls were in such a hurry, but it might illustrate a few points about the yaoi manga buyer. First, the shopper knew exactly what she was looking for before entering the store. She may have been waiting for the release of this new issue for months, and she knew where she could find it. This was probably accomplished with the aide of the internet. Second, she knew there would be temptation to purchase more manga afterwards, either in the same series or another one by the same manga-ka (writer/illustrator). [...]
[...] This is a tactic used for displaying any violent or sexually explicit manga books in stores, and it excites some buyers. Says one fan, love how they usually shrink-wrap them to keep the little kiddies away.” On the other side of the issue, some consumers dislike the plastic wrapping, saying, as one online fan put it, feel like I'm getting something incredibly dirty, even when if the rating isn't very high.” Buying a book without being able to browse through the contents can also turn out to be an “unwelcome surprise,” says the same respondent. [...]
[...] One fan I spoke to said, didn't start to buy any serious yaoi manga (serious as in higher rated and such) until I was about fourteen.” Another fan showed her frustration with buying manga at a bookstore, saying, can never seem to find any that are of such a low rating that they'd let a fourteen-year-old buy These contradictory statements show the vast differences in bookstores when it comes to enforcing those ratings. A recent article in Publisher's Weekly stated that a comic store owner, who had sold comics containing nude images to minors, is going to court to face charges (Reid 2006). [...]
[...] One should remain aware of the target market for those magazines, however, as Rachel Livingston says, while it would make sense to buy ad space in, say, Shonen Jump for a mainstream title, I seriously doubt the readers of Shonen Jump magazine action/adventure manga aimed at boys] would be interested in yaoi.” Also, while young adult titles can be safely advertised in magazine like Shojobeat, which caters to girls, it's not a viable option for more explicit books. And if the current trends are any indication, explicit books are what fans want. [...]
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