In a recent article posted by Publishers' Weekly, Digital Manga Inc. President Hikaru Sasahara provided more details about Digital Manga Guild, DMI's new crowd-sourced online manga publishing program, including confirming a Summer 2011 date for the online debut of the first titles to be offered online via this innovative initiative.
In addition to his comments published in PW, Sasahara added via email that "a large technology company in Tokyo is in talks with (Digital Manga Publishing) about potentially partnering with DMG."
Given that Japanese cell phone manga publisher and Crunchyroll technology partner Bitway has already announced plans to provide an English language manga portal with content from 37 Japanese publishers, it sounds like a lot of pieces are falling into place for some big changes in online manga publishing in 2011.
According to Sasahara, over 800 people have already signed up to work with Digital Manga Guild as freelance translators / editors / adaptors to work on Japanese manga titles that have not yet been published in English. The understanding is that the Japanese companies, DMI, the manga creators and the people working on Digital Manga Guild would do the work, and get paid after the finished stories are posted online and sold via DMI's eManga.com website.
When Sasahara first announced Digital Manga Guild at Yaoi-Con 2010, he mentioned that six Japanese companies had made verbal agreements to work with Digital Manga Guild, but he was not able to announce the names of the companies at the time. According to Sasahara, several of these companies have 5,000 - 10,000 manga titles available in their catalog that could possibly be made available to Digital Manga Guild translating/editing teams.
The Publishers' Weekly article initially named three Japanese publishers who had agreed to work with Digital Manga Guild, but in a statement released yesterday, DMI pulled back from naming the Japanese companies at this time.
"The publishers that were mentioned in the article pertaining to the Digital Manga Guild, published by Publishers Weekly on 12/7/10, are incorrect. When it comes time, Digital Manga will make an official statement on the partners involved in the project based on their wishes. Unfortunately, we are unable to make any further statements at this time, other than to confirm that the information released by Publisher's Weekly is in error."
However, Sasahara shared some additional details about the timing for Digital Manga Guild that should be interesting to manga readers around the world. According to the PW article, DMI is aiming to finish vetting prospective editors / translators / letterers by Spring 2011, and begin assigning them stories to work on at that time. The goal is to have the first titles from Digital Manga Guild teams published online by Summer 2011, and "to increase Digital Manga Publishing's library of digitized manga to 500-1,000 properties next year."
Find out more about Digital Manga Guild by visiting their website. You can also read my interview with Sasahara, where he explains the rationale behind starting Digital Manga Guild and why he hopes it will change publishing for the better.
Image credits: © Digital Manga Inc., © Deb Aoki