Manga Store Boosting Popularity of Japanese Comics to Close after 20 Years in Business
Hong Kong comic book store Dragon City, Shop 105 at 3F, Lucky Plaza, Shatin, N.T., will close this month due to declining sales and soaring rent. Customers are flocking there daily to get the books they want before the doors close for good.
Dragon City mostly sells Japanese comics (known as "manga") that are translated into the traditional Chinese characters used in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Other products for sale include untranslated Japanese magazines and anime merchandise. Due to the spread of electronic books, however, coupled with illegal copies and translations online (known as "scanlations") and the rising number of people reading comics with apps on their electronic devices, the store says it has become difficult to keep the comic book shop in business.
One comic book translated into traditional Chinese costs between HK$28 and HK$38, yielding a profit of around HK$7. The shop's rent is HK$60,000, which it says would jump up nearly 30% if it were to renew its contract. Yang, the manager, has also considered running an online store, but decided not to because storing the books would still cost money while not maintaining an inventory would prevent the business from responding quickly enough to changing market trends.
Yang started dealing in Japanese manga, a genre where his interest is not that great, because "my friends often talked about the stories in Japanese comics." Speaking honestly, Yang said, "My male friends get excited talking about comics like girls get excited talking about fashion, so I thought I could make money in this business." The "One Piece" series is popular now, but back when "Dragon Ball" and "Slam Dunk" were big, 50 or more customers would line up in the morning to get their hands on a new release.
The store's rental agreement runs until December 31. As of the time this article was written, no final business day has been determined yet, but it may very well come before Christmas. A cheerful clerk said, "If we shut down, I want to enjoy my Christmas. I haven't been able to do that because we were busy."