In an unusual three-way partnership, the American publisher Tokyopop, the Japanese publisher Gentosha, and the retailer RightStuf are working together to publish volume 3 of Hetalia: Axis Powers and bring back the first two volumes as well.
When Tokyopop closed its doors a year ago, it left numerous series unfinished. Hetalia: Axis Powers was probably the most popular one, so it's not too surprising that someone would pick it up. What's surprising is that it's the retailer RightStuf, rather than a more traditional publisher such as Yen Press, that has picked up the license.
RightStuf announced yesterday that it would be publishing Hetalia mostly as a print-on-demand product. The first two volumes are available now for $15.99 each; if that sounds like a lot, consider that the going price for used copies on Amazon is almost $33 for vol. 1 and $23 for vol. 2, and that two-volume sets are going for $50 to $90 on eBay. For those who don't mind reading it digitally, comiXology offers the first two volumes for 99 cents a chapter (or less than $6 per volume).
Volume 3 will be a bit different. The first run will include eight color pages, and readers who pre-order are guaranteed to get those copies. After the first printing is sold out, the book will go to POD and the color pages will be in black and white.
Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy tested the waters for this release last September in a post on the company's Facebook page asking if readers would be interested in a third volume of Hetalia. The post attracted almost 1,000 "likes" and a storm of comments, most enthusiastic but some negative. The response was similar to yesterday's announcement, with most commenters on Tokyopop's Facebook page expressing glee at the news but a few dissenters complaining that the price is too high and expressing concern that Tokyopop won't handle the license responsibly.