One of the largest Japanese publishers of manga, Kodansha, announced this week plans to purchase Vertical, an American publisher of english-language editions of Japanese books, including manga. Vertical is known to manga readers for its high quality reprints of material including work by Osamu Tezuka, among others. Kodansha's holdings include the legendary Akira and Ghost in the Shell, and its acquisition of Vertical follows a number of aggressive moves to assert itself in the United States publishing market.

Based in New York and Tokyo, Vertical was founded in 2001 by Hiroki Sakai. Licensed manga titles include Black Jack, Ayako, To Terra, Andromeda Stories, Twin Spica, Chi's Sweet Home, and Peepo Choo. No purchase price has yet been reported, but Kodansha will share ownership of Vertical with Dai Nippon Printing.

In an interview given to Publisher's Weekly, Vertical's Marketing Director Ed Chavez - who once worked for Kodansha - indicated that the deal will indeed bring Kodansha licenses to Vertical, but that the company's line will continue to be diverse.

Chavez said that while the acquisition would give Vertical access to more of Kodansha licenses, he said he expected that the list will be about 50% Kodansha and non-Kodansha licenses. Vertical also plans to roll out a children's book line in June, publishing two to three picture books and/or manga aimed at younger readers. "Japanese kids books have been under represented on our list," Chavez said, noting that the kids books licenses came through DNP.

Following deals with Viz, Dark Horse and Tokyopop, Kodansha is now publishing manga in the U.S. through branded imprint at Random House/Del Rey. Anime News Network reports that Kodansha announced in 2008 an intention to publish manga in the U.S. directly through a holding company to be called Kodansha USA, and confirmed last year that it would take over its manga operations from Del Rey. The purchase of Vertical would appear to efficiently facilitate that goal.

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