In a move that will bolster manga's growing presence in the bookstore market, Viz announced that it is switching its U.S. distribution to Simon & Schuster from Publishers Group West, its U.S. distributor since 1991.

Effective June 1, the new agreement will make S&S responsible for all fullfillment, customer service and accounts receivable for the entire line of Viz graphic novels and its backlist. Viz publishes more than 200 titles a year. Viz will use its own sales reps as well as its independent sales reps to sell the titles.

Seiji Horibuchi, president and CEO of Viz, said the switch "will allow us to further strengthen our reach into the domestic manga markets to new consumers." Horibuchi said the "rapid growth" of manga was the reason for the distribution switch. "We felt that the timing was right to make this move," he said.

Joe D'Onofrio, senior v-p, supply chain for S&S, said the company was "pleased to enter the expanding market for manga," emphasizing that S&S's expertise in nontraditional book outlets would help bring the category to a broader range of consumers.