Wow. I really hate to keep tooting this apocalyptic trumpet, but with these sorts of stories coming up on my Google Reader every day, it’s kind of hard to ignore. To overturn what I had said about people still seeming happy to trade their four dollars for coffee instead of gas, Starbucks is closing 600 stores nationwide and laying off 12,000 jobs. That’s bad news for us since most of Starbucks’s employees are high school and college kids our age. In total, 62,000 jobs disappeared in June, unemployment rose up to 5.5%, and Goldman Sachs is predicting that it will continue to rise until peaking around 6.4% at the end of 2009. That’s depressing (no pun intended).
As the Times article said: “The softening job market has prompted millions of families to reduce their spending, further hurting businesses and the economy as a whole. Soaring prices for food and gasoline are overwhelming modest wage gains for most workers, leaving households with even less money to spend.” This means that I’ll only expect anime DVD sales to keep plummeting, and for manga titles to continue being scarce on the book lists. The dollar keeps falling, and a lot of companies are cutting back on imports because of rising costs, not to mention the worldwide food crisis that’s helping hurt the international economy.
I guess it’s no surprise then, to hear that now Gonzo’s in trouble, but I’m kind of curious about Kodansha’s venture to start publishing its own titles overseas. I honestly don’t know how much original license holders make from their licensed works, but it seems like they’d be in a position to make more money if they avoided a middle man in distribution. Of course, this also means that they’ll have to edit and translate everything themselves, which could be costly for a job well done. The Kodansha licenses that Del Ray already has are mildly popular, I suppose, but Kodansha isn’t planning on pulling on any of those, so I wonder what titles they’ll plan to release instead. Additionally, even if Del Ray gets to hold onto its licenses until 2010, would it hurt them to lose Kodansha as a partner afterwards?
Most analysts agree that our economy still has a way to fall before it starts recovering around the end of this decade. As most of my friends will be graduating college around that time, I really wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Will the recovery be fast enough to land us jobs? For those that will be trying to break into the comics and animation industries, will they have openings? Wait-and-see tactics don’t really work for those that are already freaking out about whether art school really was a good idea after all. I’ll probably get some indication at the current health of our little niche market when I table at AWA in September though…