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Answerman - Why Don't We Have A Subscription Manga Service Yet?


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DRosencraft



Joined: 27 Apr 2010
Posts: 333
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:02 pm Reply with quote
I was thinking about this recently too, and I mostly arrived at the same conclusions/questions Justin did. The fear of being caught doing something illegal is a powerful force in driving people towards the legal route. They may be willing to risk it on illegal fansubs, but when legal streaming started to take off, there are many who jumped to the legal route for that reason alone. Nevertheless, it's not as though the illegal fansub sites have disappeared, and I don't even know for sure how much their traffic has dropped. It could just be the growth in legal streaming sites is mostly if not almost entirely borne of people who simply suffered in not seeing anything before then. The same is likely to be the case with scanlations; there are a ton of western readers who wait forever for a new title to be released and just don't want to go the illegal scanlation route. There is the potential for the first group to offer a robust library for a subscription-based fee to really cash in big.

At the same time, you would almost certainly be talking about delayed releases. Best selling novels don't show up in the library right away. They stay in the public purchase market for a while before they make it to the local library shelf for you to read basically for free. And remember, the library only has so many copies of any one book. I imagine that for a large on-line library model, there will be an insistence on some sort of waiting period at first, so that the publisher and associated parties can capture as much of the initial sales as they can. Otherwise, they'll likely make the subscription cost timed per book/manga (more in line with online movie rental models) or the subscription cost fairly steep.
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Whis-pur



Joined: 26 Jul 2015
Posts: 113
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:09 pm Reply with quote
There are people out there who only read manga once? One of the best parts of reading manga is rereading your favorites. I can't even count the number of times I've reread Naruto since I picked up the first volume....almost ten years ago (?!) and one of my favoirte binge reads is to try and go through Hunter x Hunter all in as few days as possible (I think my record is 3, and I was exhausted afterwords). But maybe that only appeals to people who physically buy the manga and loves to look at them on a shelf....who knows.
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mandisaw



Joined: 12 Sep 2008
Posts: 140
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:28 pm Reply with quote
The business model here is probably not a Crunchyroll, but an Amazon. Book publishers and authors were incredibly reluctant and stubborn about transitioning to ebooks, so digital publication lagged consumer adoption of eReaders for quite a while. Amazon's success was basically built on their monopoly of the online book sales market, which allowed them to bully publishers & authors into going along with their ebook distribution plans.

Amazon had the motivation of building a content library for their Kindles though - Japanese publishers (and their Western subsidiaries) don't have any such motivation, and localization/distribution companies outside of Japan don't have the muscle to force the issue.

It seems to me like the worry about losing face with a failed subscription-manga service outweighs any worries about manga piracy. The lion's share of manga money is still made in Asian markets, where paper still rules (except maybe in S. Korea, I believe they have a sizeable domestic digital manga market). So experimenting for the sake of Western tablet-wielding consumers may not make much business sense at the moment.

Frankly, even if such a service existed, it would likely hit a similar problem as the US video subscription services - content would be divided between services, there would definitely be region-windows, and there's still the risk that if a service goes under, you lose your investment. I would prefer to just have more manga available for download.
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Wiesteria



Joined: 25 May 2007
Posts: 141
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:35 pm Reply with quote
There are plenty of series that I'm slightly interested in, but I don't think they're worth the physical buy because I have limited shelf space and only want to invest it in series I'm fairly certain would be good. So for those series that fall short of a buy for me, I usually read them from the library or get them as ebooks or, most often, don't read them at all. This is why I would absolutely jump on an online subscription service, because it would allow me to consume more with less investment. It wouldn't detract from my physical manga purchases. Instead, it would just finally give me a means to check out series I am curious about.

I've had this type of experience with anime streaming as well. I didn't used to watch much anime because I've never really wanted to own physical copies of them (and didn't want to bother using illegal sites). Now, I have two to three streaming subscriptions going at a time and am an extremely happy consumer.
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ARC-1300



Joined: 06 Feb 2012
Posts: 308
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:37 pm Reply with quote
Whis-pur wrote:
There are people out there who only read manga once? One of the best parts of reading manga is rereading your favorites. I can't even count the number of times I've reread Naruto since I picked up the first volume....almost ten years ago (?!) and one of my favoirte binge reads is to try and go through Hunter x Hunter all in as few days as possible (I think my record is 3, and I was exhausted afterwords). But maybe that only appeals to people who physically buy the manga and loves to look at them on a shelf....who knows.


i dont think its impossible to think so,i cant say im one of them (though i will admit i dont reread them often. ) i will say this,IMO i feel strongly this way about ystery shows. they have very little re readability/re watchability once you know plot twists and what not;

as for what i think about the whole "all you can eat" aspect we are pitching,it definitely will take awhile to get everyone on board with the idea. not much else to say about until someone is willing to be the guinea pig.
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Paiprince



Joined: 21 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:51 pm Reply with quote
Rereading benefits certain types of manga, the ones that go through esoteric territory that you have to reread the panels to get the full picture of what's going on. Same with ones with lots of action where you might miss the interesting little bits at a glance. Simpler manga tend to be one day affairs. It really depends.
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Selipse



Joined: 04 Sep 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:53 pm Reply with quote
The reason fansubs and illegal streaming/torrent sites still exist is because of the dumb region-locks. Also, not everything gets licensed, and there are still also older series that never had the chance.

On physical, I've bought a lot of light novels, but for some reason I'm really reluctant about buying manga. I've only bought Yotsubato straight from Amazon Japan.

Like Justin said, usually I only read (or watch or play) most things once. Why watch something I've already watched when I can watch something new? There are some times when I feel like rewatching something, but that's years later and new things have priority most of the time anyways.

That's why I don't like buying digitally. If I'm only reading it once, I'd like at least a pretty book to admire later. However, a subscription model with a big library is different. I would definitely give my money to that. If it is available in my country, anyways.
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WingKing



Joined: 27 Apr 2015
Posts: 585
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:08 pm Reply with quote
DRosencraft wrote:
At the same time, you would almost certainly be talking about delayed releases. Best selling novels don't show up in the library right away. They stay in the public purchase market for a while before they make it to the local library shelf for you to read basically for free. And remember, the library only has so many copies of any one book. I imagine that for a large on-line library model, there will be an insistence on some sort of waiting period at first, so that the publisher and associated parties can capture as much of the initial sales as they can. Otherwise, they'll likely make the subscription cost timed per book/manga (more in line with online movie rental models) or the subscription cost fairly steep.


Dunno if you've been in a library lately, but I work in one, and I can tell you that absolutely best-selling novels show up in the library right away. When a new James Patterson or Danielle Steel book comes out we almost always have our copies received from the vendor and ready to loan out on or even before release day. The reason you may not see them on the shelf immediately is because with books that popular we usually have a long line of people who've put in reserve requests and are waiting to get them (100+ in line is nothing unusual, and for someone really popular like Patterson it can go as high as 500+), and the copies don't start appearing on the bookshelf until everyone waiting in line for it has already been taken care of, which can take several months. Or sometimes even longer - we had a steady line of people waiting to borrow The Book Thief for about 3 or 4 years after it first came out. Never a hugely long line, but every time I looked at it there were always 5-10 people waiting for it, so if you were just waiting for it to end up on the shelf you never would've gotten it.

Now it was interesting with e-books, because that was a case where publishers WERE concerned with losing money and were originally reluctant to work with libraries. The model that most of them have come up with now is that we buy e-books by the license. So if a library buys 10 licenses for the same e-book, then up to 10 customers can have that e-book checked out at the same time and everyone else has to wait in line, like they do for physical copies. Also, each license comes with a limited number of checkouts (typically 25-50), and once that many people have checked the book out on that license, we either have to pay again to renew it, or we lose it. Again, though, there's no delay in releasing them - you can get a library e-book the same day the regular e-book goes on sale.

The one part of the collection where you do see a delay in the release of electronic versions (or "embargo" as we call it) are the magazines. Some magazines are still available right away, but a lot of them have their electronic releases delayed anywhere from a month all the way up to a year, although the longer delays are usually for the super-expensive highbrow academic journals.

Incidentally, speaking of e-books, Overdrive, which is the biggest supplier of library e-books, has over 700 manga volumes in their catalog from Digital Manga Publishing. Your local library would still have to buy them, but if they have an e-book collection through Overdrive (and these days most decent-sized libraries do) you may have some of them available to you already. I know my library has all of the Vampire Hunter D e-books, for instance.


Last edited by WingKing on Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:22 pm; edited 2 times in total
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lebrel



Joined: 16 Oct 2009
Posts: 374
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:18 pm Reply with quote
WingKing wrote:
Incidentally, speaking of e-books, Overdrive, which is the biggest supplier of library e-books, has over 700 manga volumes in their catalog from Digital Manga Publishing.


[thinks "that's cool"] [takes a peek] Yeek! That list includes some explicit BL and even straight-up porn from their Project-H imprint. Shocked I know libraries have been remarkably accepting of BL (mainly because it's mostly romance and usually not that explicit), but I wonder how many libraries are going to take a chance on the outright eromanga.
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Lemonchest



Joined: 18 Mar 2015
Posts: 1770
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:39 pm Reply with quote
I think CrunchyRoll's experience with manga e-publishing also shows perhaps why it hasn't become a bigger thing. It wasn't that long ago that CR had tiered subscriptions for anime, manga & Jdramas. Now they have one content subscription & a relatively small catalogue of manga & Jdramas. That would suggest there simply weren't that many people out there who are willing to pay extra for access to additional content, nor was the potential demand/supply high enough for CR to, for example, offering a manga only subscription.
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MidoriUma



Joined: 05 Sep 2014
Posts: 120
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:51 pm Reply with quote
Um, they already have a place like this, called Mangafox. You can read most series there, and it's free.
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yamiangie



Joined: 03 Mar 2010
Posts: 465
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:58 pm Reply with quote
The only Comic book company I know that offers a subscription to read any of their things is Marvel and that's the back catalog. They have a ton of old work that would be sitting around doing nothing otherwise. So your still not reading the newest comics. It's just not a popular idea in general.
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Somewhere



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 347
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:07 pm Reply with quote
The #1 opponent that such a service still wouldn't beat is time.
As long as printing manga via magazines is still a thing in Japan, there is the logistics issue of printing the magazines and then shipping them to stores so that they can have the mags on the shelves in time for the official publication date. This process takes days.
During these days, somewhere in there will be a leak. Speedscanlators acquire raws. Speedscanlators speedscan. Speedscanlators release days before the official Japanese release date. And remember, the Japanese publishers will never allow other regions to officially publish stuff before their home market gets it (and it's common sense; nobody sane allows their home market to be later than first).
People, more often than not, read whatever is available first, then move on. And a large chunk of that is social; people want to discuss things right away. If you want to participate while the bulk of the crowd is still focused on the same thing, you gotta read whatever everybody else is reading. You want to feel like part of the community, you got to be in sync with the community.

Edit: I should probably also point out that if you look up traffic for a bunch of the manga scan aggregator sites on something like Alexa, you'll see that it is almost always the case that the USA is by far the #1 source. It's less 'If you build it, they will come' and more 'If you build it first, anyway anyhow, they will come'.


Last edited by Somewhere on Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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thenix



Joined: 18 Apr 2012
Posts: 264
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:29 pm Reply with quote
I have reread a few series during weird situations but generally I don't reread series because of 2 reasons.

1. I generally remember everything that happen in manga I watch. If I pretty much forget what happens then it's something I didn't like that much anyways.

2. I could be spending that time reading a series I haven't seen before. The first read of a good manga is always the best and that drives me to find good new series.
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Crisha
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Joined: 21 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:36 pm Reply with quote
MidoriUma wrote:
Um, they already have a place like this, called Mangafox. You can read most series there, and it's free.

Not certain if you're serious or you just don't care, but Mangafox is a manga scans aggregator and is not legal. They did not license those series. There is no subscription service (though they do make money off of ads). This article is focusing on legal subscription services with licensed manga.
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