Random House’s Del Rey Manga imprint has been in limbo due to some recent administrative decisions, and with many popular titles, manga fans were becoming unsure of what to expect. However, Random House and Kodansha have agreed to share the workload on the manga licenses. This time last year, Kodansha opened a subsidary in the United States and began to re-acquire many of the English licenses for the series they hold in Japan.

Their original agreement was to be published in America by Random House, who also handles the Del Rey Manga imprint. At the time, it seemed something of this nature had to be in the works because Del Rey held so many Kodansha licenses; so, it makes sense to more or less merge the two efforts together. As of December 1, Del Rey Manga will cease all publishing and will be replaced by the Kodansha Comics label. Kodansha USA will be handling most of the publishing themselves, but will continue to work with Random House via their Random House Publishing Services to distribute the titles.

Kodansha has said they will be re-evaluating all of the current Kodansha series being released by Del Rey on a case-by-case basis and decided whether or not to continue translating and publishing the titles. They haven’t made any public announcements about any of the properties that Del Rey has been handling to this point.  Since opening Kodansha USA, they have already started re-publishing Ghost in the Shell and Akira; both licenses were originally held by Dark Horse.

Anime News Network has compiled a list of the unfinished series currently held by Del Rey including XXXHolic, Negima! Magister Negi Magi, and Shugo Chara!.

The full press release:

New York, NY – October 4, 2010 – Kodansha Ltd. and Random House Inc. have announced their plans to change and expand their manga publishing relationship in North America. The companies are shifting from a licensing relationship to a sales and distribution arrangement as of December 1, 2010.

The current relationship between Kodansha and Random House began in 2003, with the first titles debuting in 2004 under the latter’s Del Rey Manga imprint. Since then, more 500 volumes have been published, including many bestselling manga series.

Under the new arrangement, Kodansha’s subsidiary, Kodansha USA Publishing, LLC, established in 2008 and led by Yoshio Irie, will be publishing Kodansha-originated manga themselves directly in the U.S. English-language market with strong support from Random House Publisher Services (RHPS), Random House’s third-party distribution division. Del Rey Manga associate publisher Dallas Middaugh will remain with the program, transferring to RHPS.

“We are very excited to extend our relationship with Random House,” said Yoshio Irie, president and CEO of Kodansha USA Publishing. “Both companies see opportunity in the American manga market, and we look forward to working together to further the distribution and exposure of manga in the United States.”

“We are thrilled to have a publisher as distinctive as Kodansha USA Publishing join the Random House Publisher Services portfolio,” said Jeff Abraham, the division’s president. “Kodansha is one of the great worldwide publishing brands for the manga category, and we will do everything to support their efforts with our many booksellers and distributors who love selling manga titles.”

Del Rey’s ongoing manga titles which were licensed by Kodansha will be gradually taken over by Kodansha USA Publishing on a per-title basis.
Tokyo-based Kodansha established Kodansha USA Inc. on the occasion of their company’s 100th anniversary. Kodansha USA Publishing began by publishing Akira and The Ghost in the Shell in 2009 under the Kodansha Comics imprint. They plan to expand their strong line-up of manga under this exciting new collaboration with Random House Publisher Services.

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