The folks at Tokoyopop have at treat for Star Trek fans right now: They have put up all three volumes of their Star Trek global manga online for free. Each manga contains four or five chapters by different writers and artists, and all the stories are based on the original Star Trek series.
The ostensible reason for this generosity is so that readers can vote for which story they want reproduced in color for the upcoming Star Trek Ultimate Edition, which will collect all three volumes in a single hardcover volume. However, it’s a good opportunity to check out short stories on a common theme by some talented artists. Many of the creators who worked on these stories have also done global manga for Tokyopop, and their work is pretty good, so the books are worth a look. And check them out now, because although there is no end date on this thing, I doubt the books are up there permanently.
Putting a chapter or even an entire volume of manga online for a limited time has been a Tokyopop strategy for years. Initially they seemed to use it to promote new books, but lately they have been using it as a tool to get readers up to speed when a new volume of an existing series comes out. I recently spoke to their director of marketing, Marco Pavia, who told me that it putting up entire volumes of best-sellers does increase sales. Recently they put vol. 19 of the hugely popular series Fruits Basket online for just 19 minutes. “The sales of volume 19 in its first week outsold the previous volume in its first week,” Pavia said. “In long running series there is usually a dropoff in sales. With our Loveless promotion, we put volumes 1 through 7 online, and then 2 or 3 weeks later we saw a rise in sales with those volumes.”
Tokyopop has developed its own e-reader, which is straightforward and easy to use but has the disadvantage of being a little smaller than the book. The lettering is still readable, and the art is nice and clear, but it’s just a bit uncomfortable. But I’m sure that’s part of the concept, the idea being that if the book is good enough, you’ll want to shell out to have it in print.