But is that really a surprise? According to Tokyopop, manga novels suffer from translation costs, placement problems in retail shelves (are they placed with manga or novels?), and have short print runs.
Manga novels are technically light novels, which are books with the occasional illustration and are quick, light reads aimed for teens and younger audiences. All manga novels tend to have their manga-style drawn characters on the cover which many may mistake for the fully illustrated comic version.
With the advent of digital publishing and distribution though, Tokyopop is looking to see if this new market will help manga novels gain a wider following. Personally, I’ve seen manga novels in libraries but haven’t picked them up for a read. As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather read or own the manga. Maybe that’s another reason why readers are not picking up the novel versions.