The pop culture business website ICv2 reports that manga sales in the U.S. were down 20% in 2009 from $175 million to $140 million. This is after a drop from a high of $210 million in 2007. To put this in perspective, the movie industry made over $10 billion in 2009.
I will be the first to admit that I didn't buy as much manga last year as I have in years past. As I looked at the pile of unread manga volumes on my desk, I couldn't quite down to the local bookstore and buy more when I knew they were just going to sit there for months as I focused on my grad school reading. Now I buy manga more in bunches; when I get a break, I'll read through the manga I have and then go buy some more.
It's interesting to note that the author of the ICv2 article points out the female fans as a factor in the decline in manga sales. Manga has long been one of the few pop culture forms that specifically targeted female fans and these fans can be rightly credited with the manga boom in the U.S. For many of the geek fandoms in the U.S., having female fans is just an added benefit, not a group to try to specifically appeal to. Now that these fans are in their late 20s/early 30s, the article argues, the shoujo (girls' comics) manga that led to the boom is not as appealing and the josei (women's comics) manga titles that have come out haven't caught on at the same level.
It will be interesting to see if the U.S. manga industry can find a way to keep these older fans interested in manga or find ways to appeal to a new generation of female fans. I just hope they will continue to bring titles to the U.S. that appeal to female readers and don't decide, like every other fandom, that the only way to survive is to try to be more appealing to males.