Ada Palmer recently made a post on Tor.com about weird manga and asked me to track down some information for her. She remembered a statistic (and had found an AP news story quoting it) that said manga accounts for almost 40% of all books and magazines published in Japan. So she wanted me to track down the source for this statistic and also to find similar statistics for other countries.
I tackled the second part first, and what I ended up doing was head to the page of business resources for the West Campus Library, which is where I worked before I got the job at Cushing. My primary job responsibilities there were course reserves but I also covered the reference desk and was therefore trained to use the business databases so I would know what resources were available and where I should go to answer questions.
My first thought was to check out the main database for marketing research reports to see what they had on publishing and marketing for books and magazines. No luck there. Next I checked out databases for industry and success! No articles about publishing in the U.S., but I did find reports for Finland and France that mentioned comics in Market Share Reporter, so my first instinct to find market research was correct even though the first database I tried didn’t have what I wanted. (Finland and France list comics as having 5% and 6.1% respectively.)
Next I tried to track down the 40% in Japan statistic. My industry database with Market Share Reporter didn’t have anything on Japan unfortunately. I was able to find the AP article, but the problem with citing the article is that since it’s AP I could find an author (Joseph Coleman) but AP articles are reprinted in many different papers at different times which makes it hard to pin down a date. So I kept looking (and by looking I mean rephrasing my search to get different results in Google) and eventually found the same statistic quoted in Japan Pop!: Inside the World of Japanese Popular Culture edited by Timothy J. Craig. And what was even better is that it had a footnote. Or rather, an endnote, which meant that the source for the statistic wasn’t on the same page. Japan Pop! is not out of copyright which means that not all pages display. Lucky for me, the page that the endnotes seemed to be on was visible. And even luckier, we had the book the citation was from, so I could confirm that it was there (and the endnotes that I found were not a page of endnotes for a different chapter.) And the original citation was in a book by Fred Schodt, so my Google search results had verifiable and reliable information.