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Interview with Robert McGuire of One Peace Books

The last couple of years, One Peace Books is a publisher that is slowly making a name for themselves in the publishing world. Releasing everything from Kenji Miyazawa's Night on the Galactic Railroad  to comics, Manga, cook and craft books and juvenile and adult fiction. Definitely check out their catalog beacuse there's something interesting for everyone to read. CBNAH staff writer Panagiotis Drakopoulos got in-touch with Robert McGuire, Managing Director of One Peace Books to talk about current and upcoming titles, digital side of publishing and more much: 

CBNAH: Two weeks ago, saw the release of I Want to Kick You in the Back by Risa Wataya. What's been the general reaction from the public?

Robert McGuire: It received a very nice article in The Japan Times, that appeared on March 29th. The article can be read on our website. However, not a lot of reaction beyond that.

CBNAH: For our readers who are unfamiliar with One Peace Books, can you please tell us a bit about the company itself?

RM: The company was established in 2006 by Sanctuary Books and A-Works, two popular book publishers in Tokyo. It was established to bring modern Japanese literature to the US. In particular, a lot of the books they were publishing. However, the company has grown to widen its list to other books as well, such as children's books and original English content.

CBNAH: When it comes to licensing titles, what factors did you or editors consider distributing a title for release? 

RM: It has to do with a lot of things. And while it's no single person's decision, it mostly has to do with the relationship with the publisher, the marketability of the property, and whether or not anyone likes it.

CBNAH: Are there any difficulties in handling old material such as Night on the Galactic Railroad and bringing it to print? 

RM: There are difficulties with handling books in translation in general, especially novels. Americans read far less than their Japanese counterparts, and even fewer books in translation. So, there is a very small group of people even interested in Japanese literature in the US. That makes things difficult to say the least.

CBNAH: Later on this year, we'll see more cooking and crafts/hobbies books coming out with Super Cute Cookies and American Spun. Will there be more of a focus to release these types of books for 2016?    

RM: We always release a few craft and cooking books. So, I would guess that you'll always see a peppering of those types of books coming from One Peace.

CBNAH: What's it like to have a work agreement with Japanese publishers Media Factory and Kodansha?

RM: It's mostly just a matter of working out the business particulars. However, both companies have very strong lists, so it's always exiting to see what new titles they will publish and what titles we might be able to license.

CBNAH: Outside of New York Comic Con any other cons OPB will be attending this year?

RM: No. We are considering several across the country. But as of right now, we only have plans for New York. We will be at NYCC this year. So I hope you stop by.

CBNAH: Looking at the catalog, there's a lot of titles available for Kindle. Any chance of seeing the comics and manga titles appearing on comiXology? 

RM: As of right now we do not have an agreement with them. It seems to me that Comixology is focused on the American comic book scene. With especially strong favor given to the usual big companies such as DC and Marvel. I'm not sure they've really carved out much of a market for manga. Also, given the rampant scanalization problem with manga on the internet, they probably don't see it as a profitable market to invest in. So, as of yet, we have no plans to talk to Comixology. 

CBNAH: From the outside, the publishing industry has greatly embrace technology whether it's Kindle or comiXology. While other industries seem to be a few steps behind. Why is it? 

RM: Ebooks just do not sell very well. And as mentioned above, Comixology does well with American comics. As for manga, most of them are free on the internet anyway, albeit usually poor quality. So, it's not very profitable to publish ebooks. However, some companies see it as a necessary investment for the future. And dedicated sites like Comixology have a different business model than publishers. They are actually more of a digital store than a publisher. 

CBNAH: What's the status regarding Crayon Shinchan?

RM: Sales fell off quite sharply with the 4th volume. And that was the volume offering new content. So, right now, we do not have it on the list for new publications.

CBNAH: Can you tell us about Runoff by Tom Manning and how the title ended up at OPB? 

RM: It's a new original graphic novel set in a small town in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. It's been endorsed by Guillermo del Toro and the movie rights option is with Fox. It's a bizarre story that fans of stuff like famed series Twin Peaks will love.

CBNAH: Any advice or suggestions to writers or artists sending in submissions?

RM: We are looking for original graphic novels, juvenile and adult fiction, craft and how-to books. as well as, anything else off the beaten path. Unfortunately, we don't hire pencils, ink, and colorists separately, as does the traditional comic book market. And in the case of graphic novels, we are looking for an artist/writer combo or someone who does both.

CBNAH: Outside of Runoff, the other big title that's coming out this year is The Rising of the Shield Hero. What makes this a special series to release and overall personal thoughts of the series?

RM: This is a massively popular series. It was originally a web novel that received millions of views in Japan. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies. There are unlicensed multiple fan sites and wikis available in English on the internet as well. In short, we are expecting a big release. I think it appeals to gamers in particular as the story is derived from the MMORPG experience, which is starting to define a generation, with millions of players across the globe.

CBNAH: What's the release plans for 2016 and any other titles that people should check out?

RM: Right now it's a little too soon for me to talk about 2016 releases. But, you can expect more big name licenses from Japan as well as original English titles in prose and graphic format as well.

For more info on One Peace Books,  please visit the following links: 

One Peace Books

Official Facebook Page 

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