Wed, 2 June 2010
Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast.” And that was before internet!
A week to the day that I published this podcast, the Japanese and American publishers have formed a coalition to fight scanlation sites. So I’m not sure how much of this conversation will be relevant in the coming days. There is a lot of talk and speculation about what this new coalition means. For now, I’m going to sit back and watch events unfold for awhile before venturing an opinion. And wait even longer before venturing a public opinion. So please go read the news story at Publisher’s Weekly at http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/copyright/article/43437-japanese-u-s-manga-publishers-unite-to-fight-scanlations.html You can read Viz’s official press release here: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/press-release/2010-06-08/multi-national-manga-anti-piracy-coalition-formed
Really great discussion. Beginning with the influences, "negative" has not worked with the people I have come across, including my own brother and mother, though it's for pirating movies not manga. Fortunately Netflix and the internet are making that sort of obsolete for movies available for rent. The Shonen Sunday and Ikki sight have done a great job. Now if Viz could pick up a few other current SS titles and release them like Rin-ne I would be very, very happy. One thing I would point out for those pesky long series. Viewers are able to revisit the beginning of a series when the anime begins to air. As to the price of things, I think $3-$4 is the most anyone should pay per manga. SRP is $10, most comic book shops or book stores only pay 60% of that, so the other 40% will be the profit for them. So we are down to $6 at the distributor lvl, which is their profit price. This means the publisher maybe makes the book for $4 to cover print, licensing, translating and layout costs. I would hazard that printing is the most costly. I think at $3 they would still be making money, if not more then off a print version for said volume of manga. ComicsOne offered downloads of manga in 2000, I still wish I had picked up more of their titles, before they went under. Hard to believe 10 years ago they were ahead of their time.
Great conversation, I think you guys touched on a lot of important points that need to be thoroughly examined overall. I agree with Johanna\\\'s statement about Marvel\\\'s approach to distributing their content through digital readers; the value you get does not outweigh the cost. I think that digital readers are much more well suited to, like you mentioned, paying attention to fan desires. Hopefully companies will start possibly looking at their back catalogs & redistributing out-of-print material. A higher price point for an entire collection makes much more sense for the consumer than a single issue that could be easily found instores. I will also agree that the digital readers provide a nice explorative experience. When I experimented with a Hulk comic, I was surprised overall that I could focus individually from panel to panel.
A few points. On \\\"guilting people into buying it\\\" ... negative never works as well as positive. Giving people an new opportunities to support the artists who make the art they enjoy is the positive. In anime, Crunchy does lots of things so-so, but the supporting fan meme is something they do right. On \\\"there isn\\\'t the legal framework in place\\\", its easy to project from the difficulties of a single niche publisher to the tools available to larger organizations, but for the brazen, hosted onsite, infringing copies with the site advertising their availability, they fall out of bounds even under the looser WTO provisions. An industry group has recourse against the OneManga and MangaFox\\\'s that a small niche publisher would not have. On format, remember that the pirates did not invent mpeg1-layer3 - that was the motion picture experts group. Its the audio layer from the mpeg1 Video CD audio/visual format, which was defined in terms of the decoder. While CBR may be the foundation for a manga digital distribution format - its not ready for prime time. First thing it requires is localization of independent black and white and transparent overlays. Subdirectories with overlays parallel to the main art would support that, and of course both rar archives (CBR) and zip archives (CBZ) support subdirectories. Second is a device independent reader, which can be provided with html and CSS index files so that any modern browser can read the file if no dedicated reader is at hand. Of course the bootleg manga reading sites prove out this concept - \\\"billions of pages served\\\" is hard to argue with. Third is the premium over the existing bootleg base, which is embedded panel geometry. Since the image format to use is PNG rather than JPG, for the combination of color depth, transparency and fine black and white detail without artefacts, aka jpg lettering fuzz, this should be defined in the \\\"item=data\\\" embedded info format of PNG. Something like: PANS=Pan1;Pan2;12345678;Pan3;Pan4 Pan1=(0,0);(240,500);0 Pan2=(240,0),(480,500);0 ... IOW, one predefined entry that gives a list of named panels. Each named panel has top left and bottom right corner given, and then delay to start pan to the next panel and optional pan speed, with a 0 delay being \\\"sit and wait for the user to ask for the next panel\\\". As indicated, with a list of named panels, any entry that does not appear later is ignored, which allows for digital fingerprinting. Just as the pirates did not create MP3, we can\\\'t sit back and expect the pirates to create the improved cross-platform manga file format that will allow people to independently pick the app that fits their preferences and the manga that they want to read ... because that superior manga distribution file is not in the pirate\\\'s interest. Their interest is in simple image files to display on pages stuffed full of advertising.