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Manga Publishers, Scan Sites React to Anti-Piracy News by Closing or Evolving

By June 15, 2010

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Sugar Milk on Kindle It's been a week since a consortium of Japan and U.S. manga publishers announced their intentions to band together to stop online manga piracy, and heated opinions and tantalizing developments on this front have been popping up left and right.

While many large manga scanlation websites remain live and active, a few reacted immediately to the news. One site, Manga Traders has apparently shut down. Another, Manga Helpers has removed all unauthorized scans from their site as of July 1, 2010 June 11, 2010, but hinted at their plans to launch "Open Manga," new kind of online manga publishing site in its place.

Meanwhile, Torrance, California-based Digital Manga Publishing, a U.S. publisher who isn't currently part of the U.S./Japan anti-piracy consortium, has apparently been approaching fan / scanlation groups to propose a deal that would allow them to translate, publish and get paid to work on licensed manga on a semi-professional level. The Yaoi Review broke this story a few days ago, and since then, the post has generated a lot of heated discussion from fans and pros alike.

Digital Manga PublishingAnd the publishers who are part of the consortium? They've also been speaking up about the scanlations and how they feel they've affected the manga publishing business in the U.S., Japan and the world at large. In a report posted on Publisher's Weekly, reporter Kai-Ming Cha wasted no time in getting opinions from Alvin Lu from VIZ Media, Ed Chavez from Vertical, Kurt Hassler from Yen Press, as well as Hikaru Sasahara, from Digital Manga Publishing about this recent turn of affairs.

UPDATE:  A tip of the hat to translator William Flanagan, who pointed out this announcement from Nikkei.com that mobile content provider Bitway and Toppan Printing Company (Japan's leading distributor of manga for cell phone platforms) have made a significant investment in Crunchyroll, a U.S.-based online site for anime and manga.

MANGA TRADERS: THE FIRST CASUALTY IN THE WAR AGAINST PIRACY?
First up, some updates on the scanlation sites that have reacted immediately to last week's news. As I write this, Manga Traders seems out of commission. Some comments in various online anime and manga forums have mentioned that the "404 Page Not Found" errors that have been popping up are due to server / technical issues, and that it's not in response to the U.S. / Japan manga publishers' consortium's announcement of their intention to prosecute scanlation aggregator websites. However, it's been hard to confirm this information one way or another. If anyone has details or facts to share, add 'em in the comments below.

UPDATE:  Thanks to a tip from an anonymous reader (see below), according to the Manga Traders forum, their site was down due to:

"...a hard drive failure on our webserver, so we had to completely reinstall the OS and get everything back online and restore the entire site from backups."

When asked if the recent announcement of the U.S. / Japan publishers' anti-piracy coalition would affect their website, a site administrator responded:

"We will do like we always do, if we get a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice, we will comply, but unless every single manga publisher in japan and the US gives us a DMCA notice, I dont think we run the risk of shutting down."

I don't know if that Manga Trader admin bothered to read the news carefully, but given that the newly-formed Japanese Digital Comic Association includes about 36 of Japan's major manga publishers, including the big guns like Shueisha, Shogakukan, Kodansha, Square Enix and Hakusensha, there is a fairly good chance that the scenario that this admin is scoffing at just might be closer to becoming a reality than they think.

UPDATE 2:  While Manga Traders is maintaining a defiant stance, a handful of scan sites are throwing in the towel. As pointed out on MangaBlog, Manga Downloads is calling it a day, citing lack of funding as the main reason for the closure.  Comments on the MangaVolume forum seem to indicate that they consider themselves targeted by the anti-piracy coalition and are preparing for the worst.

MANGA HELPERS TRIES TO REINVENT ITSELF AS OPEN MANGA
Open Manga logoMeanwhile, Manga Helpers made it official. In a post dated June 11, 2010 with the title "About MangaHelpers and the future of hosted / linked scanslations & raws", "Nimloth" posted this news:

"MangaHelpers will no longer be hosting, or linking to, any material that infringes on the publishers' ownership from our database system. Members of scanlation groups that have uploaded files will still be able to access and download/backup their works, but only until July 1st 2010, when all files will be completely removed for everyone. "

This announcement was followed by another bit of news from the Manga Helpers crew: their intentions to unveil Open Manga "a platform that allows manga authors and artists to publish and earn money from their work, while still reaching a multi-lingual global audience." The announcement also noted that they've talked with over 70 manga creators about this plan, "many of which expressed great interest in using our platform to distribute their work." However, at this stage of the game, it's unclear which, if any artists, much less publishers are on board with this, and how will the creators make money by presenting their work on Open Manga to fans for free?

Digital Manga PublishingThis plan might sound familiar to some industry watchers. Astute fans might recall that a Toshiba-backed, but now-defunct Japanese company called Manga Novel tried to pull off something similar. While it had the support of Hakusensha and a few other publishers, it never quite gathered enough critical mass to succeed over the long haul.

This might also sound familiar for another reason. A few months back, a letter, allegedly from someone at Manga Helpers to VIZ Media, as well as a business plan proposal was leaked to the blogosphere, and was followed by an official rebuttal from Manga Helpers. Since then, Manga Helpers has been largely silent on this front, until now.

While their initial Open Manga announcement was long on aspirations and a little short on actual details including a firm release date, (a point I called them on, via Twitter), the Manga Helpers/Open Manga crew was quick to respond to my skepticism via two tweets:

"definitely not vapor ware. Your skepticism is noted though, guess you'll just have to wait and see."

And

"let's put it this way - the mangahelpers framework was custom built from scratch. Is it unlikely it has evolved?"

Fair enough! I'm all for people who are willing to present solutions rather than just point fingers. I'll just have to leave it at "let's just wait and see," and hope that Open Manga will eventually be more open about their plans for their launch.

DIGITAL MANGA PUBLISHING REACHES OUT TO THE SCANLATION COMMUNITY
When the anti-piracy consortium of U.S. and Japanese manga publishers was announced last week, almost all of the major players in the Japanese manga business were on board. Many U.S. publishers were too, with a few notable exceptions, including Dark Horse and Digital Manga Publishing.

eManga logo In the recent article posted on Publishers Weekly, DMP President and CEO Hikaru Sasahara mentioned that he doesn't see piracy as being the major problem in manga's falling fortunes; in fact, he sees scanlation as a positive force that brings new readers to manga. Instead, Sasahara attributes the industry's real problems to high licensing costs and restrictive conditions from Japanese licensors. On top of that, he points out that the U.S. manga market is much smaller than its Japanese counterpart, which rakes in about $5 billion per year, compared to the $140 million per year generated by manga sales in the U.S.

But Sasahara hasn't exactly been sitting still waiting for the world to change. If there's one thing you can say about Digital Manga Publishing, it's that they do their level best to live up to their name. While VIZ has launched several online manga magazine sites, Yaoi Press has been enjoying success with their Kindle e-book editions of their titles, TokyoPop has dipped their toes into cell phone manga, Yen Press announced plans to turn Yen Plus into an online-only magazine and NETComics has been offering online manga rental for years, probably no other U.S. manga publisher has been as aggressively investigating and investing in various avenues of digital distribution than DMP.

Vampire Hunter D on iPhone DMP currently offers a selection of their titles, including Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki, Harlequin manga romances and boys love titles like Same Cell Organism by Sumomo Yumeka via their online rental site, eManga.com, in eBook format for the Kindle and other e-readers, as well as a small selection as cell phone manga titles. But they're not stopping there. According to the post on The Yaoi Review, Sasahara and crew have been actively reaching out to fan scanlation groups with a project and proposal:

DMP is working on a new 'secret' project for publishing more manga faster and cheaper than it is now. It would be via a digital format and they are looking to hire scanlators to help with this. Essentially, scanlators would be doing what they do now except there is the possibility of getting paid based on the sales of said manga titles they worked on. They also get to have their name on everything they translate and retain certain rights to the work they do.

Sasahara went on to confirm that DMP's intentions are to launch a "breakthrough project (that) could bring in 100's of manga titles from Japan without going through conventional licensing constraints."

And what exactly does he mean by "conventional licensing constraints?" Here's the nitty gritty, as explained by Yaoi Review's Jennifer LeBlanc:

In a nutshell, when a title is licensed the publisher has to pay a minimum guarantee or advanced royalty upfront upon signing a publishing contract. He stated this can range from $2000 to $5000 per title and volume. After signing the contract, the book still requires translating, lettering and distribution (among other things) before arriving on actual book shelves. Mr. Sasahara states this process can take anywhere from eight to twelve months.

The problem here being that their initial advanced royalty has already been paid, tying up their capital for months before they can start to generate any revenue to cover the upfront fee, translating/lettering expenses as well as distribution costs. It is only after all of this that they could start to make an actual profit assuming all of those costs are covered by sales of said title.

Sasahara goes on to say that the upfront fee is not refundable so if sales are bad, they lose money and this actually happens quite a bit due to the current economic climate. This is why they have to be careful with what they now license and "can't gamble on any title that [they] can't be sure of" and 'the titles are very much bottlenecked". He feels with their new "breakthrough concept" that they will be able to put out a higher concentration of titles at a lesser cost but he is reluctant to discuss this concept further at this time.

Same Cell Organism Tantalizing, no? While more details about how this "breakthrough project" would actually work, compensation-wise, for participating scanlators were not entirely spelled out, several fans from the boys love manga and scanlation communities were not entirely sold on the idea.

Some fans were intrigued and supportive, while others were offended at the thought that they would be asked to work "on spec," with only the promise of compensation after the title they worked was completed and generated sales. Others were bothered by the notion that they'd have to work on set deadlines or have to translate titles that they're not personally passionate about.

The reactions on this post are long and sometimes passionate, so I'll leave it to you to browse the comments. Take a deep breath and grab a drink before you do, because at 85 comments and growing, it's a very long read.

UPDATE:  Sasahara responded to some of the concerns raised by the scanlation community in a follow-up post on The Yaoi Review.  He clarified DMP's position by explaining that the translators wouldn't be the only parties who wouldn't be paid upfront -- this risk would also be shared by the U.S. publisher, the manga creators and the Japanese publishers/licensors of manga titles that would be published this way.  Read his reply, and some of the subsequent comments from Yaoi Review readers to see how this dialogue is being played out online.

MEANWHILE, HERE'S WHAT VIZ, VERTICAL, DARK HORSE AND YEN PRESS HAD TO SAY
VIZ Media logo In her June 14 article titled "Down, but Not Out: Manga Holds On in a Tough Market," Publishers Weekly reporter Kai-Ming Cha chased down reactions and comments from some of the heads of some major U.S. publishers. Here's a choice selection of comments from the article:

"Our fundamental stance is that scanlations are hurting our industry, not just North American localization but the global manga industry. No one can read what direction this market is moving in. We've gone through one tremendous cycle. Anyone with historical perspective on this knows that the manga market is better off now than we were five years ago. We're far from moribund." - Alvin Lu, Vice President, book publishing, at VIZ Media

"I don't think scanlations can account for such a precipitous drop [in manga sales]." - Michael Martens, Vice President, New Business Development at Dark Horse

Black Jack Volume 1 "We've noticed that when [Tezuka's] Black Jack was on the aggregator site, our numbers have taken a bit of a dip." Conversely, when the aggregator has removed the books (after numerous requests from the publisher) "the numbers go back up." - Ed Chavez, Marketing Director, at Vertical

The article also included an observation from Kurt Hassler, publisher at Yen Press that when Yen Press titles were removed from some major scanlation sites, sales went up for those same titles. "It's quite a coincidence," Hassler said.

It's probably no coincidence that there's lately been a lot of change simmering and emotions boiling over on this topic, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. It remains to be seen if last week's announcement will lead more publishers, comics creators, manga readers and scanlation communities to make even more changes in the way they run things today, but odds are good that they will. The only questions are how, when, and will it really make a difference?

As usual, your comments are welcome below!

Image credits: © Digital Manga Publishing,  © Open Manga / Manga Helpers,  © VIZ Media, © Sumomo Yumetaka, © Hideyuki Kikuchi / Saiko Takaki,  © Tezuka Productions

Comments

June 15, 2010 at 5:32 am
(1) anon says:

http://forums.mangatraders.com/index.php?topic=5251

Mangatraders did not shut down -_-

June 15, 2010 at 7:34 am
(2) vania says:

I believe that mangaka and publishers alike owe it to fan manga scanlations for the rising awareness and popularity of manga all over the world.

June 15, 2010 at 8:29 pm
(3) ABCBTom says:

I’m not quite sure what good it does for manga to be popular “all over the world” if nobody’s actually paying for it. It’s an industry, not a popularity contest.

June 15, 2010 at 11:42 pm
(4) aaa says:

About some of those publisher’s comments on rising sales after a series is taken off scanlation sites: The keyword there is “after”.

I doubt that numbers would rise so much if scanlation sites haven’t hooked potential readers in the first place.

June 16, 2010 at 12:11 am
(5) Manga Therapy says:

Wouldn’t you also say that the manga industry has a lack of originality in certain titles to the point where fans prefer to read them free than pay for it?

I also did my take on this debate. You can check it out at:
http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/703231700/scanlationdebate

I do like the Digital Manga idea, though I think it’s better if publishers go online themselves.

June 16, 2010 at 2:08 am
(6) Jennifer LeBlanc says:

@aaa

Um, not quite.

“Conversely, when the aggregator has removed the books (after numerous requests from the publisher) “the numbers go back up”

“Go back up” isn’t exactly the same as saying the sales rise. Nice try though.

June 16, 2010 at 3:21 am
(7) Sachie says:

@Jennifer LeBlanc: If the numbers go back to where it was before, then it’s either the aggregator hurt the publisher during the time it was hosting the said series or reading the series online for free didn’t help at all (meaning the series was good but not good enough to “catch” new readers).

But if the numbers go back up higher than where it was before, then I would think the aggregator helped it when the aggregator exposed the series to a lot more people who wouldn’t have known about it.

June 16, 2010 at 4:59 am
(8) agdeeds says:

@sachie The thing is, we’re not talking about some niche diamond-in-the-rough title here. On of the manga in question above is *Tezuka’s* Black Jack. His name exposes all his stuff by itself. Even if you’re a light browser it’s like even the very manga you read will reference him, it’s almost that impossible not to at least heard of him. Makes a lot of people curious. So where do you go if you’re curiouse about a series? The agreggator of course. You can figure out what the hype’s about in 2 seconds and for free. But then it’s not there… but you wanna really read it because you know it’s this amazing classic. So you buy it. Because that’s what’s supposed to happen in the first place. Volume 11, I believe, topped the charts selling more than the previous books. Hmm, wonder why?

June 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm
(9) Sachie says:

@agdeeds: Confession, I don’t know Tezuka-sensei nor Black Jack. I have heard the name but I have no idea on what the series is all about and am not curious enough to read it anywhere (Bookstore or online aggregators). So I doubt I will ever buy it and I do buy manga from Japanese or English publishers. It’s a habit.

I’m only offering some ideas on what those numbers could mean. Why do you think volume 11 topped the charts? My guess would be that it only got more exposure because people actually do know that it’s a great series based on what they read and not just on what other says about it.

I’m actually against online aggregators and would be fine without them but I’m not 100% against scanlations. I’m only against those that made money on it. Those that scanlate licensed series, have ads on their website when they are hosted on a free host, those who uses for-profit links for downloads or have others to host their files for downloads but still ask for donations to support their scanlation operation etc.

June 17, 2010 at 6:06 am
(10) Blue says:

@Sachie, my guess is that Volume 11 was actually the one worth buying… manga is quite different from your conventional book… the build up can last for almost 100+ chps in some series… would you continue to buy up until then? if you weren’t broke before… you would be now.. not to mention your interest would have waned by then. On the internet and when it’s free, you can just keep reading something until (if ever) it gets interesting… if for no other reason than because you’re bored.

Also another problem I find with publishing sites is that you don’t really get a choice in translation… -_- whatever’s sold in your country is the only version you’re likely to get access to and it took away heaps from one of my favourite series… T__T

lastly… i think publishing companies EDIT the manga… when I borrowed the final volume of Godchild from the library and I didn’t get the ending AT ALL. went online and read it again and viola! missing pages = a whole lot more sense… from what i gathered by what pages were taken out, it looks like it was edited for ‘shounen-ai’ content >_<

June 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm
(11) BruceMcF says:

@sachie – the remarks that he made in an ANNcast were that the sales dropped precipitously when it hit a big manga viewer site (AFAIR, around 40% for a title which had been seeing its sales build volume to volume) … and rise again, but not to previous levels, after extensive negotiation with the site saw it brought down.

The fact that a bootleg distributor without a legal leg to stand on saw fit to engage in extended negotiation over the take-down says a lot about how hard it is to affect the problem in a piecemeal fashion.

June 21, 2010 at 1:21 am
(12) haruhi says:

to be honest it is a pain even trying to get hold of RAWs without forking out huge amounts of RAWS but before new translators that work or are working to translate the manga are in for more agression and stigma by publishers

ever heard of “haruhi suzumiya gets taken off baka tsuki”

and the now infamous Yen Press intervention to scanlation sites over the melancholy of haruhi suzumiya”

news flash yen press your actions and the publishers that stoped baka tsuki don’t get it do you the fact before 2010 tmohs was doing fine heck the fandom went haywire with the anime and the novels of haruhi suzumiya, but now… unless you keep the manga coming quick or the author publishes novel 10 heck unless you have an infinite production source and events concerning the MANGA ANIME and NOVEL you will always lose out at every attempt to reel in new readers.

shame on you

June 21, 2010 at 1:27 am
(13) haruhi says:

two things to clear up

“to be honest it is a pain even trying to get hold of RAWs without forking out huge amounts of money but before new translators that work or are working to translate the manga are in for more agression and stigma by publishers”

and

“you will always lose out at every attempt to reel in new readers.”

if it wasn’t for the manga community

remember that next time you shut down another manga scanlating site

June 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm
(14) Manga Therapy says:

Reaching out to the scanlation community is a big first-step in the right direction.

Both sides need to get together and work on developing online content that is legal and benefits both parties.

The industry just needs to evolve.

I actually wrote a few arguments against the publishers. You can check it out at: http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/703231700/scanlationdebate

July 4, 2010 at 5:29 am
(15) AC says:

What is wrong with simply reading the new week’s manga off a website. I buy every good series that I enjoy, heck I have spent atleast 2 grand on manga in the past 2 years. The way i see it, it gives authors access to new readers. If they want to ban it, then how about these publishers give us good prices for once and translations that do not take 2 months per volume.

July 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm
(16) Elle says:

I admire DMP’s stance on this, I truly do, but it’s not solving the bigger problem. The reasons that I and a few of my friends read online in the first place are because:

1: We can’t afford and wouldn’t bother to collect up to issue 500 of a series, especially if it’s a dead snoozer up to issue 499,

2: Let’s face it, a thirty-page, mature oneshot is never going to be found in the manga section at Borders,

3: If a series went out of print years ago, has what domestic publishers consider ‘questionable content*’, or simply isn’t popular, number 2 also applies. (*Unless it’s heavily edited, a reason in itself)

4: The current authors I have bought works from have influenced my online reading, which in turn influences my manga buying. I would never have known of other works but for the online sites, and in some cases, I would have never known of other authors. My friends have had the same experience.

5: These sites also increase exposure for series that WOULD NEVER HAVE MADE MONEY OTHERWISE, for some of the reasons stated in 2-4. We don’t speak Japanese and couldn’t order them if we wanted to–and we do. We like to be able to grab a book off of the shelf as much as anyone, but the books we want we simply can’t get. What are we supposed to do?

July 22, 2010 at 3:08 am
(17) Joseph says:

In all matter of fact, the giants of the manga industry is taking the scanlations the wrong way. Instead of fighting scanlations, why don’t they accept the websites and outsight buys it. That way any revenue generated will be going back to the publishers and retaining the industry. Its a win win situation. Just like how itune and other digital copyrighter are doing. Let’s move on with the time people!!!

July 22, 2010 at 3:38 am
(18) Okami says:

I’m scared. Manga is my break from reality. It keeps me from going insane. All the stories and art… It helps me cope with life.

What will I do if it dissapears? They don’t sell any where I live… I don’t even know where I can get some…

Please don’t take away my life! Please! I’ve always wanted to buy my favorite series, but I don’t know where to get them… I want to buy them, but I can’t. You see my problem?

What will I do if I can’t get my manga?! Plus Manga sites increase popularity, and are probably the only reason certain manga series even get sells. Please, Please, Please, I’m begging you people. Don’t close down my manga!! D:

…You probably won’t ever read this. But still…

PLEASE.

July 22, 2010 at 6:27 am
(19) Hal says:

The majority of the manga that I read is because of these websites. Without them I doubt I would ever have known about them and probably given up on manga completely.

I also have to agree that shutting down public websites like mangatraders and mangatoshokan would hurt the businesses more than they would help them.

First of all a lot of the mangakas who write these series are just starting out, so their reputations can only go as far as the publishers in the country will allow it. And even if their series are able to get authorized to be shipped outside the country, there is no guarantee that they will make it to all parts of the world. It is especially true for the smaller countries who may not have a strong publishing branch that allows manga to be imported. This could be due to very sensitive policies in which the people may find the contents unfavorable to their youth culture

Second the scalation websites are a modern convenience for promotional usage. Getting a a manga licensed and translated in other countries takes years to accomplish-most of the popular manga series now would have taken at least 10+ years before they could be known anywhere outside the country, let alone within the county that distributes them. But through the free promotion like scanlations they are publicized on a global scale; a feat that can hardly be achieved through standard means.

Take for example the ingenious creator of the “Hetalia, Axis Power” series by Himaruya Hidekaz.

He was able to utilize his own series through the internet without charging his fans, and as a result it has taken the world by storm. The manga has already been turned into an official manga, obtained an anime series, official merchandising, a full length movie after a few short years of the anime’s serialization, and to top it all off licensing and dubbing in the United States while it is still in the process of creating more episodes.

To say that these scanlation sites are “hurting” the manga industry is a huge underestimation of the promotional value and benefits that they can acquire far more easily and quickly than the standard procedures ever could. Another example is that while the manga is free on the internet, it does not necessarily mean that fans will not buy it in stores.

Even I still buy the manga I read if it is really well written and drawn. But if the websites that promote these series are taken out, I’m not going to make my considerations on buying them as much as I did before.

July 22, 2010 at 7:49 am
(20) anon says:

Ya, there deffinatly not getting any money out of me because they did this, now i’ll just move to anime sites

July 22, 2010 at 8:54 am
(21) Marcus says:

This had to come about sometime. The idea that a consumer can freely read manga online was always going to be scorned at by major publishers who are naturally inclined to worry about sales for their series and how they’re affected. I still feel that closing down the sites isn’t going to mark a huge improvement and even then will only produce a growth in publisher resentment (which is high enough as it is).

The manga industy differs slightly from say, the music industry when it comes to piracy. Music, when downloaded online as mp3′s is in the exact format the viewer needs them to be to as any tracklist on a CD, thus their is a large incentive. Manga on the other hand is a book format and viewing it online will always bring scrowling tedium and less visual quality; which is where the promotional qualities of online viewing begin to apply.

Many manga series that I bought such as Eyeshield 21, Death Note, FMA, One Piece and Yakitate Japan I only considered because I discovered and read about them on manga scanlation sites.

In my case at least I can show an immediate act of sale refusal by saying f**k you publishers and just not buying anymore manga. That’s right, shouldn’t be that hard considering many companies like Viz Media butcher the translation. This may sound somewhat immature but as a consumer I can’t take the risk of buying series that I know nothing about; online manga sites promote unknown manga to me. I’m sure other people feel the same.

July 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm
(22) derk says:

OneManga is shutting down too.

Between this and ACTA, Im thinking mass suicides and riots. *whistles nonchalantly*

But seriously, they will always find a way to publish free scanlations. It will just be a little harder to find. These big-pants publishers are only hurting themselves in the long run.

“Locks do not keep thieves out, they only keep good people honest.”

July 23, 2010 at 12:20 pm
(23) Potts the Dog says:

The only reason why I switched from buying manga volumes to reading scans was price pure and simple. I’m a fast reader and volume of manga is nothing, I can knock one off in 30-45 minutes, so why the hell would I pay 10-20 dollars for 45 minutes of entertainment? Not to mention the series I read, Hoshi no Samidare or Homunculus or Giant Robo:DEB, will very likely never be licensed for print here in the states. The problem falls on the U.S. manga publishers, as they cannot seem to come up with a business model that is quick enough to keep people interested and affordable enough to keep people buying. We as fans should not be hurt because they can’t keep up profits. This whole thing is a witchhunt and will cement my stand on scans, not to mention I will never buy another volume again.

July 24, 2010 at 12:59 am
(24) anonymousmon says:

Here’s my take. Scanlations aren’t the source of the problem. I agree with Sasahara’s words and distance myself from Viz’s rather cynical and self-righteous claims. The real problem is financing. I’m absolutely not paying 8 bucks weekly for comics. If it were four or five bucks, that’s a different matter. Scanlations are actually benefitial- they just have to find a way to establish them right.

July 24, 2010 at 5:51 pm
(25) Sora says:

In all honesty, Viz and other companies should have solved this problem years ago before it got huge. Not only that Michael Martens is completely right about the drop in sales. 10 dollars per volume in a recession is not exactly asking people to buy Manga when everyone poor. For every volume bought, that’s about a single hour of pay for a college student gone. Times have change.

Nor are the companies fast enough to meet the demand and supply hoping that the lag time for people to want the next volume is 6-12 months when the series is already way ahead of them. Not only that, the translations aren’t accurate or are there any censorship at all, something that causes loss in translation. This is why it’s so hard to translate books, but if the meaning gets across, then it’s done it’s job. They can easily be solved by binding the book and put a rating like the Video Gaming industry. They do that in Japan and China. The other thing is… There is hardly a global industry. I hear from people all over the world say I can’t find my volume anywhere or even we’re on volume 3 while the US has it on volume 15 and Japan has it on volume 28, and importing is expensive, especially for manga that fit more of a niche group then main stream manga like Naruto and Bleach. Some person on a forum mentioned that he saw a volume on amazon or ebay for 150 dollars. 150 IS RIDICULOUS FOR THEM. The only reason they even found out about manga is through online sites.

The main problem though is the fact that the publishers could have solved this ages ago. They could have hired scanlators part time and through a Manga Admission’s board, put ones with accurate translations up and set blocks to set censorship up in a legitmiate online based library setting. Many old Manga that are licensed have disappear which is very inefficient to those who perhaps picked it up to read buy one, and when they earn enough money to buy the finished series, is no where to be found. The thing is, publishers are looking short term, without realizing that they could have done very well through an online library of Manga, probably because it would have been “costly”. Tell that to the public libraries around the world. It’s in every business, corporation, and governments to think long term. Here’s one good example where the company if we follow the scanlation groups cause less manga to be bought could have fixed this a long time ago by using the internet to their advantage.

I’m not saying scanlations are right, they certainly promote, and spread manga globally, even if it’s illegal in some cases. But in the same case, publishers let this happen. They didn’t deliver quality, quantity and fair purchasing power (aka price comparison between different countries) in a timely manner.

Of course numbers went up when the aggregators removed it, as a monopoly, they only have that place to go too. Because that monopoly is playing around with purchasing power by setting higher prices as well as taking longer, it’s a wonder why that happen in the first place. It’s simple economics on why monopolies don’t work. Some people may ask why it’s a monopoly, despite there being multiple publishing companies. it is because they’re the only one holding the license to that manga. Variety is around the manga world, but yet each company holds a monopoly over each title. And through that they work as a oligarchy with other companies by setting high prices and those who attempt to sell it for cheaper face labor problems because these people will just move to other companies if they get better pay.

It’s admirable that you’re setting up this sort of library now, but at what cost are you putting it, what quality checks do they go through, let alone that it be very difficulty to change licensing laws. Some companies going to complain copyright issue. If the problem is the royalty fee, fix that problem. Promotional problems, set up a website with an online library for reading page limits on each manga a week. Put cheap payment to get buy the limit, set up yearly membership fee initially, then have the cheap payment by pass. You’ll be able to promote different manga series, as well as get advertisers.

I hope this is read… it may be a little disorganize… but the thing I want to put out is that yes there is a problem. That problem was allowed to run freely for years, something that should have been fixed through reform of the industry. You let the problem get huge, the readers are the ones who just jumped in this unsolved problem. Plugging a hole or avoiding the problem isn’t going to solve it. Stop thinking short term publishers and companies, think long term, through creativity and innovation can you solve this problem through several methods together. Keep the population updated through what reforms are being done. Don’t leave us in the dark if something didn’t work such as royalty fees don’t get fixed the first time. There are many bumps in the road, but don’t give up, because a few lost dollars. With every failure, there a chance for victory.

I hope somebody important reads this. Cause, if another problem springs out, I won’t be as sympathetic and suggest giving. No body wants a boy who crys wolf. You have a chance to fix it.

To win someone trust, win it through actions not words.

July 28, 2010 at 2:18 am
(26) Caro says:

Though I sympathize with VIZ and other manga giants, I simply do not predict this to be a positive outcome! I, a college student suffering from the recession, simply do not have the money for manga beyond Shounen Jump (of which I have been a loyal customer for the last 4 years now). My biggest issue lies in the quandry of waiting months for a translation to arrive in this country. It has happened on numerous occasions that I have discovered a manga series on the shelves of the book store, become excited by it to the point where I purchase it, and soon become crestfallen by the message on the last pages, “Coming in -insert month which is at least a third of a year away-”. Sometimes I wait it out, but frequently either lose interest completely, or turn to scanslations to prevent me from disregarding that series as interesting. If they were to sell per few chapters or pay a scanslation site to allow for a VIZ (or whoever) controlled website, they could reap the benefits of an audience thrilled to be able to read their favorite series virus free.

Another possibility could lie in a pay to read ahead feature. If the prices were reasonable enough for someone of my age group to read a certain chapter, it would thrill me and certainly others as well.

I worry for the upcoming manga conventions now that their general audience will be saddened by the purge of their hard to find or “too-far-ahead-to-ever-wait-for-the-US-to-catch-up” series…

July 28, 2010 at 2:29 am
(27) Gyo says:

I agree with Sora. Business is tough. If you can’t supply to your consumers well enough – and in this case, it isn’t even a small problem or a minor inconvenience – you’re going to lose your consumers. The manga publishing industry more or less rode in with scanlations and the availability and popularity of manga it created, and now, it’s being driven down, partly due to the economy, of course, but I also believe that at least 10 – 20% of the problem is that it’s incompetent, especially compared with how fast and accurate scanlations are. Naturally, people want better, and, wow, it’s free as well!
Also, no one’s going to buy something for $10 that’ll take maybe 20 minutes to read and then never be looked at again. Obviously, you’ll only really want to buy things that you want to read. That’s why online sites are so good. Most people I know or whose comments I’ve read say that they’d be happy with an alternative to online sites, even if they cost money, as long as it’s not a ridiculous amount.
This close-all-scanning-sites thing isn’t going to help very much. Sure, you MIGHT drive most online sites and scanners into extinction, but it’s not going to help the overall industry very much. Really popular series sales will go up, but the rest will stay down or even drop. The only real alternative is to meet the popular demand. The lack of competition in this industry might have made that less obvious than it is to, say, the phone or music industry, and that fact that their competition is illegal and even largely nonprofit probably made them go for a seemingly easier approach, but it’s not going to work too well, especially in this economy.

August 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm
(28) Naeko says:

One thing that gets me is how pirates feel it is their RIGHT to read manga for free. Sure, those pirates say that manga is overpriced, and if it is so, they should not read it. But because the pirates then go ahead to read the manga for free, they have no moral right to claim what they do.

It just goes to show that if there are no police, then many people will behave badly. So, because of that, the upcoming ACTA Treaty (see wikipedia) will try at least to restore some balance and reduce the number of “fans” who have succumbed to the dark side of the force.

October 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm
(29) MangaFan says:

There’s several key reasons why this isn’t a good thing and why scanlation groups exist. The publishers like Viz that bring manga over to the US are slow and behind in translating manga and providing volumes to purchase. Another reason is the quality of the translation is poor and sometimes the names of characters, images are modified, and other alterations are made. For example, there’s no reason to have shorten Takumi in Initial D to Tak. It’s like calling the President, B, or BO for short. It’s insulting and takes away from the original storyline. Some people aren’t able to get copies in their own native language and some won’t be able to see their favorite series ever provided. Why is it that people that volunteer their time (scanlation groups) provide a higher quality job than people that get paid to do it? It’s pathetic.

People would be willing to pay for a subscription, just like Netflix if you can provide the original translation and don’t change the storyline. I even read that in Pokémon the food was changed to American food.

November 5, 2010 at 3:39 pm
(30) Zethin says:

For me there are two big things, the first is the cost, when these books cost me 10 dollars witch is a fair price fore a book.
But when i pay for other books i can open it up and sit in bed/chair and read for hours 20+(im a slow reader) thats fine i got my moneys worth but if i get into bed after paying the same amount of money and 45 minutes to an hour later and im done i kinda feel like i wasted my money. Dont get me wrong i enjoy most of what i read but if its short and sweet for the same price as long and sweet what would you take?

For the second thing i have major problems with just about everything the US does when they change them over, i just feel like everything got cheesy and i cant pin point it why the fan do it better but thats me as a person so i cant put anyone in the wrong.

With negative should always come positive, i think these people who make us these great story’s should make a good living so with a program like “netflix” or what not of online reading would be great if it worked right. There could be major problems with these things tho, when i go to read and look at different manga i want an open book on all publishers not just the ones that “pay the right price” on these free site i see any and all different kinds and sometimes i just see a manga for the sole reason of 1 man liked it witch is great that they want to share. if you can make something that opened then by all means i would be willing to pay people for there hard work.

well i just kinda rambled on there but there so i wont ever check here again but if someone has something to say to me by all means send me an email at cloud99353@yahoo.com

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