Manga publisher and anime distributor Viz Media has reached separate agreements with two major retail chains: Walmart and Best Buy. With Walmart, Viz has struck a deal to significantly expand the number of titles it sells through the chain. Its agreement with Best Buy will see to it that its titles are available, for the first time, in the retailer.
Walmart will now feature four of Viz’s most popular series—Tokyo Ghoul, Pokeman, One Punch Man and the new Naruto one-shots—in more than 2,000 of its location across the country. The deal will ensure that more Viz titles are consistently available in more Walmart stores.
At Best Buy, Viz will now be selling three titles—two Naruto titles and an Assassination Classroom title—packaged with their anime tie-ins. The titles will be featured in floor displays in 687 Best Buy stores around the country.
Kevin Hamric, Viz senior director of sales and marketing, said the Walmart deal marks the beginning of an effort to convince the national retailer to once again maintain a dedicated graphic novel section. Hamric explained that the retailer had a dedicated comics section years ago but "shrank it" over the years to include only a few bestsellers from a handful of publishers.
The publisher's new deal with Walmart, Hamric went on, came after the retailer's officials noticed that U.S. manga sales have recently rebounded. Hamric also credited the deal, in part, to a recent social media campaign Viz mounted that urged manga fans who don't live near a bookstore to go to Walmart for certain Viz titles. The campaign, Hamric said, helped drive Viz sales at the retail chain.
Viz sales at Walmart stores during the 2015 holiday season were up 50% over the same period in 2014, Hamric said. He did note, though, that in 2015 Walmart offered more Viz titles than the year before.