Tokyopop Is On The Ball

By | Sunday, August 19, 2007 Leave a Comment
I was in the bookstore last night and, as I was waiting to check out, I noticed a Tokyopop point-of-purchase display. I stepped over and found that it contained three different titles that were all curiously larger than most of what Tokyopop produces. Whereas most of the books measure about 5" x 7.5", these were about 6" x 9". A closer look revealed, too, that each bore a tag line across the top reading: "A Kaplan SAT/ACT vocabulary-building manga."


I'd heard about these back when they were announced at the end of May. The idea is that a student can read these manga stories and have call-outs highlighting potentially difficult vocabulary words. (For those unfamiliar with the U.S. education system, Kaplan is a company built largely on educational materials, study guides, etc. The SAT and ACT tests are standardized entrance/placement exams used by colleges and universities here in the states.)

Naturally, I picked one up and began to flip through it. The stories appeared pretty much as they do in Tokyopop's initial releases of the stories, even using the same 5" x 7.5" size art work. Extra gutter space at the bottom and on the non-spine edges were used for the annotations. Rather than just have text listed to the side, though, like one might see a footnote, each callout was designed with a border graphic around it and the word pulled out in a different font style. The background, too, was not merely blank white space, but had a light design. All in all, it was a fairly nice package. A good blend of education and style that strikes me as something that would engage a young student more than a simple text document.

Now, whether or not they're actually useful, that's another question. I skimmed through and only caught a handful of the vocabulary words. They were ones I obviously knew, but hey -- I'm over 30; I darn well better know them by now! I had trouble going back mentally to see when I would've learned those originally. I'm almost certain I knew those words (again, at least the ones I saw in my quick scan) by the time I took the ACT and SAT, but I don't know what age group they were ideally aimed for. I understand kids are taking the exams earlier now than they used to, and doing pre-exams and such, so it's hard for me to gauge exactly who these books are aimed for.

That being said, though, I'm certain there IS an age bracket that would be ideally suited for these books. And for them, it seems to me, these would be an ideal way to pick up on new vocabulary. Kudos to Tokyopop for taking this step forward, and I hope that the books are commercially successful enough to continue.
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