Consistent with its new digital initiative, Viz Media will introduce a new format for its print manga anthology, Shonen Jump, and the magazine will also expand its online presence, allowing subscriber access to up to 100 pages of manga previews on the Shonen Jump website. In spring of 2011, Shonen Jump magazine will celebrate its 100th issue and will feature chapters and highlights of favorite properties from the past.
The updated presentation, which Shonen Jump senior editor Joel Enos described as “modern,” will allow for more reader feedback while continuing to provide roughly 300 pages of content. The new, updated Shonen Jump will be released starting in January and will kick-off with the online monthly serialization of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan and a 100 pages of “massive manga previews” of the manga series, Toriko and Bakuman, all on the Shonen Jump website.
Originally launched in the U.S. in 2003, Shonen Jump was based on the publisher’s Japanese weekly anthology, revamped as a monthly for the U.S. market. It has been one of the most successful marketing and advertising tools for Viz Media, serializing its book properties in monthly installments. While its subscriber numbers have fallen, Shonen Jump’s circulation continues to hover around 100,000. Down from its 2008 circulation number of 215,000, the current figure is still a strong one for a magazine that consists solely of licensed, translated, Japanese comics. The American edition of Shonen Jump magazine introduced U.S. readers to such bestselling manga properties as Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, DragonBall and Slam Dunk.
The news comes on the heels of Viz Media’s release of an iPad app that will allow fans to purchase manga. Shonen Jump manga will be a strong presence on the app, but these changes to the print magazine seem to address the opportunity presented by the magazine’s circulation and wide reach. The changes also address the limitations of the Viz iPad app, which may be missing the magazine’s target demographic of young readers, consumers who likely don’t own or have access to an iPad.
While the push to expand legal digital access to licensed manga has become even more critical to a manga industry concerned about the popularity of pirated online manga scans or “scanlations, ” Enos also pointed to the importance of the feedback they’ve received from their readership, half of whom would like to see more content online and half of whom want their manga in print form. An overlap in the two camps is undeniable and Enos said that having both print and digital editions seems the best way to satisfy both camps. “Some of our readers want more timely news online, and to read on the go online,” Enos said, “but then they also like manga in print at home and to collect every issue of Jump as well.”
The new format signals an increased openness and interest by the publisher in fan reaction and feedback. Currently, the Shonen Jump and Viz Media websites act as marketing tools for the company, but they distribute little in the way of content and they do not have online forums for fan interaction. Enos said the new Shonen Jump will explore the overlap between two groups of fans and he used such slogans as “more manga more ways” and “your manga, your way.”
“This change in attitude and look should help address our core readers and fans and hopefully either please them immensely, or at least open up a closer and more frequent dialogue with them as to what they'd like to see in the coming year,” Enos said. “The magazine is all about them, after all.”