Sunday, December 18, 2016

Complaint 3: Not as Advertised

Beginning of semi-rant:

Reviewers sometimes complain, "The publisher labeled this yaoi when it's not!"

When I first started collecting manga, I couldn't fathom this complaint. Manga is manga. If the volume is a good story or contains good stories, who cares about its type? (I feel the same way when reviewers complain, "This collection contains shojo. I only read yaoi!")

On the other hand, I can understand feeling manipulated by a publisher. The "yaoi" designation and cover of Wild Butterfly, for example, imply that this volume is a collection of yaoi tales.

It isn't. Not even a little bit. The cover story is about a teacher and student during war-time who struggle with issues of pacifism. The teacher and student are not lovers and do not become lovers.

Another story in the collection could possibly be designated yaoi but it's vampires, so, eh. ("Vampires" fall into the same category for me as "space opera." It covers everything.)

The problem is not that I felt gypped; the volume cost $4.00. And I'm not so limited that I only read one type of manga. The weirdness is why the publisher sold the volume as something it isn't. It seems to me that "yaoi" would be harder to sell than "adventure" or "fantasy."

On the other hand, the yaoi readership--though relatively small (yaoi comprises 1/8 of any manga shelf at any bookstore that even carries manga)--is passionate, well-read (for the most part), and voracious. Perhaps marketing to a known audience is more effective than marketing a difficult-to-designate volume to . . . just anybody.

But that makes the above cover less "mistaken identity" and more "cynical marketing." Any company has the right to cynical marketing, but I personally think that company should hide it better. Go ahead and cynically market to me--but be clever about it!

End of semi-rant.