Comics: The Ninth Art, No. 2 in book sales

Comics: The Ninth Art, No. 2 in book sales

The French don’t read anymore, and the book market is doing poorly, really? In 2021, book sales jumped: +19% compared to 2019 and above all +28% compared to 2020. Numbers that invalidate the prevailing notion that digital has replaced paper which is largely explained by the “comic book effect”. Buoyed by confinement, sales of comic books have exploded. In the first nine months of 2021 alone, 51 million books of the ninth art were sold, an increase of 75% compared to 2020. As Frédéric Fourreau, of the small publishing house Pattaya, said: “The sector is doing well.”

Comics, the second best-selling segment in the book industry, has blossomed almost neck and neck with general literature. Rather, it has just surpassed children’s literature. The growth is linked to several fundamental movements that have been in the publishing industry for several years. First, editorial innovations, with the emergence of new forms (smaller books, short stories, etc.) Next, very current topics are explored, such as gender or sex education. Finally, the emergence of a younger generation of authors.

However, the comics sector is still regulated by iconic licenses such as Asterix and Obelix. And if the inspiration for the world of books is due, above all, to the manga, then these Japanese adventures have fallen into dozens and dozens of volumes. This genre represented one of two sales of picture books in France. Its attractive price and popularity with young people made it a real social phenomenon, a must in bookstores. “The first generation who grew up with manga had children. They no longer find it illegal to get them to read them, and consumption is now unrestricted,” explains Marie Vautrin, product manager at Pika Edition, a market leader.

The manga is broken down into relatively short chapters, perfect for a transport trip or to brighten up a waiting moment. New uses, new audiences… In the eyes of Antoine Vitico, of the Exemplaire House, all that is needed is to better foster the artists’ creations: “Despite the growth, authors are not yet paid enough. »

In the versions of Exemplaire, the author is the main actor

The author made the central gear in the book series the prejudices of Antoine Wittkok and Lisa Mandel, the founders of Exemplaire Editions. All projects implemented by the house are funded through a crowdfunding campaign, where the authors are interested in outreach. “We limit our interference as much as possible and offer the author the possibility to be a decision maker,” sums up Antoine Wittecock. The author gathers the knowledge around him and the teams vary from 4 to 8 robotic entrepreneurs, according to his needs.

Accounting, HR, or publishing is paid at a percentage of the book’s price. Going forward, the two founders decided to create their own market and distribution network. A commercial innovation that runs counter to the practices of the book world and responds to a larger ambition: to encourage authors.

Take editions of Patio Literature

What if the writers wrote the following comic bubbles? It is in any case the ambition of Frédéric Furiot. After twenty years as a gardener, the 1950s turned to the realm of his passion. To launch his own publishing house in 2020, he first bet on the “lianhuanhua” format, traditional Chinese mini albums, which he invited by foreign authors. The form, ambitious and demanding, is beginning to penetrate the French market, even if its repercussions are still marginal.

The next step for the development of its structure: to bring literature closer to comics. The entrepreneur explains: “The great battle for comics is to find legitimacy in the face of the novel. We have to break this barrier between aristocratic publishing and graphic stories. Frédéric Furiot intends to develop cartoons written by established novelists and drawn by well-known cartoonists. The project will be published starting in the winter of 2022.”

In Pika Edition, the delayed manga

Fairy Tail, L’Attaque des Titans, GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka)… This series of albums refers to the true icons of Japan: Pika’s edition, No. 2 of the manga in France, has already established itself by winning the rights to exploit the cult series. Produced according to a unique creation process where authors direct legions of assistants, Japanese manga productions follow the rhythm of bimonthly album release.

Looking at the serial side, bulimia is now the new battlefield for sector leaders: “Today, authors and readers are clamoring to see every new episode revealed online all at the same time. Around the world,” explains Marie Vautrin, Product Manager at Pika. An essential strategy, in this highly competitive sector, to combat illegal downloading and diversify sources of income. Pika has just joined Piccoma, a Netflix genre of manga, which launched in France in April. for your discs.

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