Monday, October 23, 2006

So here's a question for you. I was talking to Bill Johnston while working ops at MangaNEXT, and he wanted to know why manga are shelved in American stores by title instead of author/artist. Bill, when he reads manga at all, reads 'em in the original Japanese, so he shops in the used bookstores and import places, where they shelve 'em the way the Japanese do - first by publisher, then by author, and then finally by title. I couldn't explain or justify why comics are filed by title, even in the real bookstores.

Of course, comics as comics have always been displayed in that fashion - it's a relic of the Big-Two-and-a-Half days, when the titles were forever - Batman, Superman, Fantastic Four, Spiderman - and the artists and writers came and went like the hirelings which they were. That explains the comics shops and the rest of the direct market. But bookstores - real bookstores - file their normal print offerings the way God intended 'em - by author. The only stuff that used to get displayed by title was their periodicals. Is it because they initially thought of manga and other graphic novels as periodicals, and thus deserving of the periodical treatment? Maybe it's the way that the publishing companies advertise the books. Title up front, artist/writer as an afterthought. Lord knows, I don't necessarily know the name of the artists responsible for the manga I read, not up front & foremost, the way I would with a paperback novel or nonfiction history or whatever.


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