Yen Press Folded Within Orbit Division
Yen Press has been moved from the Young Adult division of Hachette Book Group to become an imprint of the company’s Orbit line of science fiction titles. Orbit was already an existing imprint and is now being upgraded to a separate division, much as DelRey is an imprint and separate division of Random House. They too have a line of Manga.
As part of the shuffle, Rich Johnson, co-founder of the line, will be leaving Hachette on October 31. Co-founder Kurt Hassler will remain to run the titles, reporting to Tim Holman, newly named VP and Publisher of the Orbit division.
Yen Press was founded in 2007, largely by Johnson who had previously been VP-Sales for DC Comics. They announced an ambitious of line Manga titles in addition to Yen Plus, a monthly anthology magazine ala Shonen Jump, which debuted July 29. The company absorbed Korea’s ICEkunion which had been releasing manhwa to American audiences which it did after delays, in the spring.
As the company geared up for launch, they announced an ambitious goal of 30-40 volumes released in 2008, just as the Manga flood in the bookstore markets led to the chains seriously re-evaluating titles and cutting back on orders, which had serious repercussions for Viz, TokyoPop and CMX.
Hachette’s CEO and Chairman David Young said in the press release, “This new publishing division gives us the perfect platform for building our business in two genres that have significant potential for future growth. Tim has grown Orbit to be the market-leading imprint in the UK, and his publishing experience is perfectly suited to the opportunities presented by both Orbit and Yen Press in the US market. We are of course sorry that Rich Johnson will be leaving the company, however as the Yen business has evolved it has become clear that a single Publishing Director for the imprint is most appropriate. The establishment of this new division reflects not only our belief that it makes publishing sense for Orbit and Yen Press to be more closely connected within the company, but also our commitment to the genres in which they publish.”
What this will do to the line remains to be seen. At present, Orbit only releases three titles a month compared with Yen’s seven to 10 titles. The magazine has also yet to register significant sales so some sort of cut back is more than likely in the months ahead.
The fate of the titles announced just last month at New York’s Anime Festival remains up in the air. They had promised Welcome to Wakaba-Soh (Yokoso Wakaba Soh e) by Chako Abeno – June 2009; 13th Boy by SangEun Lee – June 2009; Sugarholic by GooGoo Gong – June 2009; Hero Tales (Jushin Enbu) by Huang Zin Jhou and Hiromu Arakawa – October 2009; Spice and Wolf (Ōkami to Kōshinryō) novel by Isuna Hasekura, Illustrations by Ju Ayakura – December 2009
Holman said in the release, “Orbit and Yen Press will continue to develop independently. However, as a single division, we’ll be able to combine our efforts in a number of key areas to great effect. Both Orbit and Yen Press are publishing in genres that can no longer be considered marginal. It is almost impossible to imagine popular culture today without them. Our challenge is to embrace this change, to be creative and forward-thinking, and to engage with the new audiences that we know are out there. I believe that we have the right publishing vision and the right publishing team, and I’m greatly looking forward to working with Kurt, Alex, and colleagues throughout the company to make the new Orbit division a great success.”