In one more indication of the growing role of manga in the mainstream, video and music retailing giant Trans World Entertainment Corp. has contracted with wholesaler Bookazine to develop and manage a manga section in each of its more than 900 stores. TWE comprises nine brands in mall and freestanding locations, including F.Y.E., Coconuts, Sam Goody, Suncoast and Planet Music.

Bookazine established its separate pop culture program, Popazine, two years ago and hired John Davis, former director of book sales at Central Park Media, to head it. Since then Bookazine’s sales of pop culture-related titles, including manga and graphic novels, have jumped, according to Bookazine executive v-p Richard Kallman. In 2006, pop culture/graphic novels were 5% of the company’s overall business. This year, Davis projects, Popazine will grow to 7% or 8%.

Bookazine is currently refining its product mix to complement the different TWE brands. In addition to manga, it will be supplying science fiction and fantasy titles as well as movie, TV and video game tie-ins to some stores. Davis anticipates rolling out a Popazine selection in all TWE stores by the end of the year.