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Well, this is interesting.

Publishers Weekly: Harper, Tokyopop Ink Manga Deal (via the ever-awesome Japundit)

In a turnaround that highlights the sales potential of graphic novels and manga in the book trade, HarperCollins will take over the distribution of the Tokyopop manga list to the trade. In addition, Tokyopop and HarperCollins will collaborate on developing manga adaptations of HarperCollins authors beginning with the bestselling young adult novels of Meg Cabot.

We here in the West keep hearing conflicting things about manga in Japan. First it’s so popular that everyone grows up reading it; next it’s not really so mainstream, and people in Japan don’t understand our fascination with it. I think the real truth is somewhere in between: manga plays as big a role in Japanese life as the television does (did?) in American life, but like the television, it’s not something you obsess about. It’s just there.

I met a Japanese girl once who claimed strongly not to have any interest in anime and manga. Later, when I actually went to Japan, I met another Japanese girl who had some friends over, and they all watched an episode of One Piece. The girls obviously didn’t follow the show regularly; they were just interested to see what was up with it. These girls were not stereotypical Akiba nerds; nor were they concerned about seeming to be stereotypical Akiba nerds. They were just living, and enjoying their pop culture. I think that mentality also describes the general manga experience.

So the manga phenomenon here in the West is different, because it’s not already established, but I wouldn’t say that it is completely alien from the Japanese manga experience. What may be different is the number of people who will buy any title simply because it’s manga. It would be interesting to see how that number compares to the number of manga otaku in Japan.