SDCC '08 - Manga Makers to Deliver Comics via Wii

According to a report from PC World, your newest way to read comic books may just be that Wii sitting in your living room.

Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shueisha and Shogakukan – the four largest manga publishers of Japan have formed a joint venture which will bring digital versions of comics to the console. The new venture, called “Librica” will deliver comics through the Wii Ware software channel to Wii users, according to PC World, and expansion to Ninentdo DS is planned.

The launch timing and pricing of Librica was not announced.

Clearly, the distribution, which has the ability to literally put comics in living rooms will play a role in the future of manga, both in its native Japan, and in the Unites States. AS Newsarama has reported on extensively, the manga market in the US has seen drastic changes recently, with many eyeing distribution channels and digital versions of manga as key to success and survival. (Newsarama Note: Shueisha and Shogakukan own Viz; Kodansha has recently set up shop in the United States, while its properties see publication at a variety of US publishers. Kadokawa also has seen its properties published by US companies)

The timing of the announcement, although not officially heard around the floor at San Diego Comic-Con or currently seen to be noted at any panels of the weekend comes as digital distribution of comics is seen as both one of the challenges and promises of the future of comics.

In terms of American publishers, Marvel Comics currently has thousands of its comics available online via its Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited subscription program, and DC Comics’ material has recently been made available via Warner Premiere Motion Comics. Other publishers, such as Boom Studios offer comics online via their websites and other channels.

Large-scale distribution wise, Marvel’s Digital Comics are available through its website, and Warner Bros. has a distribution deal in place with Microsoft’s Xbox, with Batman: Mad Love having debuted on the service this week, while the first chapter of Watchmen is currently available as a free download on iTunes. Warners also has distribution deal in place with Verizon’s V Cast service.

No American publishers were named in the initial report, but if “Librica” works and succeeds in reaching a larger manga audience, it certainly seems that it would be an open door for Marvel, DC, or other publishers looking to reach a larger audience, as the Wii has just been named the top console system, worldwide, with 11 million consoles sold –something which would be clearly seen in publishers eyes as 11 million households with possibly more than one potential reader inside.

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