SHOJO BEAT cancellation reax

200905201239Predictably, the demise of SHOJO BEAT, Viz’s girl-focused magazine of serialized manga, is being discussed far and wide:

Alexander Hoffman:

The strange thing is though, that manga as a whole, is a comic sold to women (at least in your major book retailers). Shojo Beat is the heart of the girl’s comics movement, a collection of the “normal” girly magazine stuff with comics specifically written to be enjoyed by girls. And, when most of your bookstore market is the young female audience (who doesn’t have Twilight to distract them this summer), it seems like an inopportune time to cancel the anthology. More appropriately, it would seem, now is the time to give the anthology more press, more promotions, and try to tie it into product lines and get it into the hands of its chosen audience.

In contrast, Shonen Jump has received a lot of tie-ins with other products, giving it some cover recognition in stores, with its Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and other promotions. It also has Saturday morning cartoons to back it up, giving it more eye appeal to the younger crowd. Can we say that for Shojo Beat? Did it ever really get its chance to shine? Or was it more of a background player to the antics of Naruto and his other shonen buddies?


The Manga Critic:

More importantly, Shojo Beat was the kind of magazine that I wish had been available to me as a teen, not only for its great stories, but also for its funky, DIY vibe. Shojo Beat was one of the few teen rags that didn’t read like Cosmo, Jr. or Vogue High; its how-to articles were practical, its fashion column featured clothing priced under $75 (a real rarity, as any devotee of Elle, Vogue, or Seventeen will tell you), and its stories focused on the inner lives of girls, not just their shopping and grooming habits. Even their contests demanded more of readers than simply sending a postcard, as girls were asked to compose poems, draw pictures, and write essays, activities that other teen magazines stopped encouraging years ago.


Manga Xanadu:

So, it is with great sadness that I bid farewell to Shojo Beat. I never regretted reading any of it’s titles even if not all of them thrilled me. The magazine opened me up to a whole new world of manga that I probably wouldn’t have taken a chance on before. So thanks Shojo Beat for all the girly stuff you brought into my life. You will be sorely missed.


AND readers also sound off in the forum. All of these links shamelessly stolen from Brigid. Actually that last link contains news of other magazine shutdowns in Japan and in general, weakness in the paper subscription-based model.

Indeed, we weren’t going to comment on this story since there is surely a lot of business modeling that we’re not aware of; however, a recurring element from several of the various commentators LEAPED OUT at us like a scary, hungry grizzly bear, like this from Comicsgirl:

It wasn’t a magazine I read or bought regularly, but I still liked it and I’ll be sorry to see it go.

This disappoints me for a number of reasons, which I’ll get to in a moment, but I think it’s safe to say that overall this is fairly disheartening, especially for anyone that had subscribed to the magazine. I cannot say that I was one of those people, but it’s akin to when Newtype USA was canceled; something you enjoyed every month is now missing.

Though I was never a regular subscriber, I’m sad to see Shojo Beat get the axe.

Do you see a pattern here? Like, everyone liked it but nobody paid for it? Slight problem. Or…back to this again. There are doubtless many reasons for SHOJO BEAT’s demise based on difficulties selling certain kids of material, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it’s just a horrific time for magazine publishing in general out there.

24 Responses to “SHOJO BEAT cancellation reax”

  1. Franklin Harris Says:

    So, basically Shojo Beat was one of those things no one really wants for themselves but everyone wants to know is there.

  2. A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran » Archive » Graveyard of the Manga Says:

    […] BTW, Shojo Beat from VIZ got the axe today. And reaction links here. […]

  3. Katherine Dacey Says:

    As one of the folks who’s quoted above as saying, “I was never a regular subscriber…,” I’d like to gently point out that Shojo Beat was widely available in retail outlets. I regularly purchased it at the comic store, especially when it previewed a new series or ran a special feature (e.g. the first chapter of Tezuka’s Princess Knight). My interest in the magazine waxed and waned with what was serialized in it. There were months when I skipped it, but more often than not, I paid the full retail price for it. I suspect many of the other folks who expressed similar sentiments did the same thing.

  4. Katherine Farmar Says:

    By an odd coincidence, I just got a copy of Yen Plus in the post yesterday. Anyone got odds on Yen Plus surviving where Shojo Beat perished?

  5. Synsidar Says:

    My interest in the magazine waxed and waned with what was serialized in it. There were months when I skipped it, but more often than not, I paid the full retail price for it.

    That attitude might be fairly typical. If a high percentage of the content is ongoing serials and a reader isn’t interested in one or more of them, then she’s paying for content that she doesn’t want.

    Here’s the SHOJO BEAT launch press release. Note the number of serials.

    SRS

  6. Branden Palomo Says:

    I run the newsstand at the Barnes & Noble in Reno, NV, and Shojo Beat out-sold Shonen Jump month after month, BUT that wasn’t until I started placing it next to all the teen girl magazines (like J-14 and Teen Beat, etc) 3 years ago when I got this position.

    Really sucks that I’m gonna have to tell everyone coming in to buy it in a couple months that they’re not going to be able to get it any more.

  7. Torsten Adair Says:

    Is “Shojo” Japanese for “Minx”?

  8. Synsidar Says:

    Is “Shojo” Japanese for “Minx”?

    I know you’re being sardonic, but “shojo” translates to “girls.”

    SRS

  9. Synsidar Says:

    Here’s the 2008 SHOJO BEAT media kit, which put the 2007 circulation base at 38,000 and provided readership demographics. A 5/14/07 Viz press release put the average circulation at more than 43,000.

    SRS

  10. Alex Hoffman Says:

    It’s true, I was not a subscriber to Shojo Beat; I have only recently begun to enjoy shojo (I began my manga career very much as a shonen guy). I love the shojo that appears at my doorstep monthly from Yen Plus, and it’s a shame that I now don’t have the option to subscribe to the anthology. I was looking at both Shojo Beat and Shonen Jump as possible subscriptions, because I truly enjoy anthology manga, but now that Shojo Beat is off the table…

    Still, despite only being a sometime consumer, it truly is a shame to see the publication abandoned.

  11. dave roman Says:

    This may be an important factor to throw into the mix:

    Many of the characters/series that appear on Shonen Jump covers have anime series that are shown on major networks like Fox, WB and Cartoon Network. Exposure and brand recognition go a long way toward casual newsstand sales.

    Shojo anime is not being shown anywhere except obscure digital channels almost no one has. So nothing on the cover is a brand that extends beyond the hardcore manga readers. So it’s a magazine that only attracts manga readers…not TV viewers. That’s a big difference.

  12. Eden Says:

    To my credit, I wasn’t a subscriber or a regular buyer because I am usually broke.

  13. tekende Says:

    For a typical magazine, subscriptions don’t really bring in money–but they do provide the numbers used to back up advertising prices. I’ve never read Shojo Beat, so I don’t know if it has ads, but I would assume it does (if it doesn’t, I don’t know how Viz would expect to make any money from it). In which case, buying it at the newsstand or bookstore doesn’t really help the title that much. Magazines in general bring in virtually no money from sales or subscriptions. It’s all about the ad space.

  14. Synsidar Says:

    This PW article by Calvin Reid has some more information about the SHOJO BEAT cancellation, including:

    The magazine had a circulation of about 35,000. Viz will continue to publish Shonen Jump, a similar fan magazine focused on Shonen (or boys-oriented manga) with a circulation of nearly 200,000.

  15. Torsten Adair Says:

    The June issue has 6 pages (3 covers, 3 interior) of ads not related to Viz.

    $5.99 for 336 pages. (Pages 22 - 314 = story)

    (Page 10 has a brief interview with the writers of the X-Men: Misfits manga.)

  16. Hutch Says:

    Maybe that pattern will be recognized and some of those readers will turn their attention to other properties that need support.
    Such as Madame Xanadu from DC’s Vertigo line.

  17. MangaBlog » Blog Archive Says:

    […] Bloggers continue to react to the news that Shojo Beat is folding. At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald notes a common thread in the eulogies: Most of those praising Shojo Beat never subscribed to it. (That includes me, but I bought it religiously on the newsstand.) As always, the comments are worth a click. Simon Jones points out that the purpose of manga magazines is to promote the midlist titles: Come for Naruto, get hooked on Tegami Bachi along the way, and pretty soon Viz is selling two books instead of one. Perhaps Shojo Beat wasn’t doing a good job of selling those middle-of-the-road titles, Simon speculates, or maybe Viz is planning to publish fewer of them, so SB has lost its raison d’etre. Simon also links to a retailer who notes that sales were down and ad prices were up in recent months. […]

  18. Lorena Says:

    As a subscriber, I’m saddened to see Shojo Beat go. But, as someone who works in the media industry, I totally understand why. If this is what helps keep Viz afloat (and from letting licenses lapse, a la Tokyopop), then so be it.

    And there is a bright side — perhaps non-serialization in the magazine will help certain popular titles have more frequent volume releases. I know that some titles, like Vampire Knight, are extremely popular and could benefit from marketing dollars being spent on a big push for releases, as opposed to staffing support for a monthly magazine.

    Also, when the Nana and Honey and Clover animes are released by Viz later this year, there could be a bigger push for their imprint titles as well, creating a possible tie-in should the anime ever get picked up by a network.

  19. StevenRowe Says:

    I confess that I bought every issue from the first issue. At that price, even if I didnt like half of the content, I’d still find much more to like than a typical comic. At it was a good way to find stuff that I wouldnt have without reading it: Nana, Sand Chronicles, etc.
    without the intro to the Viz books, I suspect I will buy less from them…
    oh well, another way to save money….

  20. Zoey Says:

    I was never a subscriber, but I certainly bought it loyally every month. I know that most people who liked the magazine were in the same position. Somehow it was just easier to spend $6 once a month than $30 all up front. I’m absolutely heartbroken to see it go, it’s the only magazine I have ever bought so loyally.

  21. Romanticide Says:

    I was another of the non-suscribed people, I bought it month by month but as I live in Mexico I just couldn’t suscribe :(
    I am really sad to see the magazine go as I liked it will all and it’s defects and Steven says I found and liked titles that otherwise wouldn’t have given a chance.

    “Is “Shojo” Japanese for “Minx”? ”
    Hell no, actually Shojo Beat lasted longer than Minx and even started earlier. Shojo Beat had stuff that minx lacked and that is probably why it succeeded at least for a time. SB had supernatural stories, good art and bishonen. It may sound superficial but people is more eager to tolerate a generic story if it has the last two (as vampire knight) than a good story with mediocre art.

  22. Lori Henderson Says:

    I am/was a subscriber, and for your information Hutch, I’ve also been ordering Madame Xanadu. For me, Shojo Beat provided something all the “chick” mags didn’t. Intelligent writing. The articles weren’t about the lastest fashions, models, diets, or how to get a man. They were smart, informative, and while not always relating to me as an older woman, at least interesting. Girls deserve, in so form, an alternative like that.

  23. Kat Says:

    I subscribed after purchasing the second issue off the newsstand (and later ordered the first issue). I liked some of the stories and the previews (just recently bought Otomen 1 and 2 because of the preview!). It sucks to have been a subscriber and seeing it go. I usually don’t buy manga (cos of the long volumes it can get into and it’s pricey!) but Shojo Beat introduced me to stories I normally wouldn’t read like Kaze Hikaru–I’m not into samuari epic stories, but that was actually good.

    It looks like I’m going to have to finish the stories I didn’t get into (could only keep up with about 2 stories at a time). And then I’m going back onto the internet for scans!

  24. Laura Says:

    See, I didn’t subscribe, but was dutifully going to the bookstore and buying it, to try it out for a few months. I was actually on the verge of subscribing to it this summer. I am now looking for other shoujo anthology magazines. I’m not sure where to go. Shoujo Beat was definately singular on this side of the Pacific.

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