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


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MidoriUma



Joined: 05 Sep 2014
Posts: 116
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:47 pm Reply with quote
willag wrote:
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.


Directly from the front page of their website (I bolded the one part that's most relevant):

Copyrights and trademarks for the manga, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. © 2016 MangaFox.me.


And I never see any ads on their sites at all.
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Somewhere



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 347
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:55 pm Reply with quote
Do you actually, sincerely believe what they're saying at face value, or are you pulling our legs here? I can't even begin to tell given what day it is today.
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MysticLeviathan



Joined: 19 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:00 pm Reply with quote
It's honestly a good question. The fact is that most popular titles are either published by Shueisha or Kodansha, and in the US most of those titles are published by Viz (which Shueisha has significant ownership of) or Kodansha USA< which is the US's Kodansha subsidary. Obviously there are a ton of series not published by either, with a great example being Berserk, which is published in the US by Dark Horse. However, that begs the question as to why Viz or Kodansha USA hasn't created a service for the titles in their catalog. Unlike a service like Netflix where you're dealing with many different studios and companies to license with, at least in the US Viz and Kodansha are the only two biggies, and they both have significant ties to the Japanese publisher. So I don't think the reason is the complexity in licensing. At least in the US, in Europe and other parts of the world I have little doubt it's far more complex.


I think the reason is where it would make financial sense. A big issue is manga is significantly more expensive in the US than it is in Japan, like 2-3x more expensive than MSRP). So how could they price manga where you have a AYCE buffet style of service where they still make money? Because I feel like a lot of people would choose to not buy manga and instead get the service if they had the choice. And there are a ton of people who would buy several volumes of manga a month. But if they have that service, that would be far less in the publisher's pockets. Obviously, this only applies to digital manga, as I don't think print manga is going away any time soon.

Another thing is that manga isn't just being licensed, it's being fully translated. And not just translated, but redrawn and tweaked slightly, for example with translated SFX, and that takes time and money. Part of why English manga is much more expensive that the original Japanese volumes is the time consuming process of translating and redrawing.

For me, I would gladly spend $10 a month on a AYCE style service. If Viz would do something like that, where I could get every volume of Viz's catalog and be able to read it online, I'd be all over that. I just don't think it would be financially viable for Viz or Kodansha to do that. I hope to be proven wrong, though.
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rizuchan
Collector ExtraordinaireCollector Extraordinaire


Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 836
Location: Kansas
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:16 pm Reply with quote
WingKing, are you familiar with how the library receives Overdrive requests? Because I'd like to request my library get a bunch of manga on Overdrive, including and especially some of the BL stuff so I can stop filling up my bookshelf with one-shots I only read once... but would my name show up on the request form? Because I used to work there and while I've requested manga from them before, I'm a little hesitant to send in requests for BL stuff with my name on it for all my former coworkers to see... Embarassed

I mean, they probably wouldn't care, or just laugh but...
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Somewhere



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 347
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:23 pm Reply with quote
10$ a month/120$ a month can be a lot to swallow for the scan aggregator crowd. Hell, even I'd instinctively blink at that (and I'm someone who loves his English WSJ subscription at a fifth to a quarter of that figure for far smaller access than what you have in mind).

For that price, what's the draw? The big selling point to attract a sufficient number of people to make it worth it financially? Typically it's the hit tentpole series, right?
But if you're trying to peel from the scanlation crowd, the alternative you have to fight against, as far as the mega popular series go, is "0$ a month, days before official release so you can discuss things with all your friends cause they're also reading this version, and just barely good enough quality to avoid making you want to stab yourself in the face out of disgust".

Legal English access to the unpopular stuff is a selling point, but will it attract enough people to compensate for the costs of translating and making them available in the first place?

Time's just a huge, huge opponent. Something that anime streaming didn't really have to deal with. No matter what, the earliest raw source a fansubber could work with was... a recording of the actual airing of the episode! Something would have to go hilariously wrong for someone to illegally acquire it before it airs, I assume. On the other hand, the licensor and licensee can work something out and thus simulcasting is possible.
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Pidgeot18



Joined: 19 Jul 2015
Posts: 87
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:26 pm Reply with quote
MidoriUma wrote:
Copyrights and trademarks for the manga, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. © 2016 MangaFox.me.


And I never see any ads on their sites at all.


If you try opening up something like, say, Naruto, you'll see that it says:

Quote:
The series Naruto has been licensed, it is not available in Manga Fox.


Which is to say that the licensor has sent them a DMCA takedown notice and that MangaFox complied with the order. In other words, MangaFox itself doesn't believe themselves to be legal, at least not when it's being contested by someone with pockets and legal expertise.

Given that it's a wholesale reproduction of an unauthorized translation (translations are explicitly covered in law as a right given by copyright), it is supremely illegal for a scanlation site to exist. Most sites have in their TOSs explicit requirements that users not upload things they don't have copyright on and operate on the basis that they can't control user submissions; this requires responding to DMCA takedowns or else themselves facing legal repercussions. MangaFox in the past has definitely been seen scraping other scanlation sites, and given that there's basically no chance that it's legally authorized, there's actually strong legal grounds to deny them even this fiction. That they're still running is largely because it takes too much resources to shut down these sorts of sites for rather little gain, particularly if they're responsive to DMCA notices.

EDIT: Here's a brief intro to fair use. Fair use is essentially saying "I'm copying this, but it's okay for me to do so because it's minor and it's not displacing the original work." The standard canonical case is quoting for the purposes of reviews or showing thumbnails of videos. Things like Let's Play videos are dicier (anyone attempting to monetize these streams absolutely ought to request permission in writing), but scanlations are clearly outside the scope of fair use.


Last edited by Pidgeot18 on Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Quasar_



Joined: 04 Aug 2014
Posts: 5
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:41 pm Reply with quote
I think a tough thing for manga is the sheer amount of titles to get anything close to the comixology of manga. Not that they are a sub operation, but they do carry most us comics digitally.

Whats published in translation now is a tiny sliver so I think to get people to switch from say mangafox might be hard, even for people who want to pay for their digital manga but currently can't.

And with CR manga I've wondered if they just have limits on how many series they can handle translating at the same time. Its not like anime where theres a limit on whats coming out.
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lys



Joined: 24 Jun 2004
Posts: 938
Location: mitten-state
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:37 pm Reply with quote
Lettering manga is my full-time job. In my experience, the per-book rate I get from digital-only manga publishers is less than half what I earn working for the print publishers. It's not sustainable for the professionals doing the work. Is it worth it to readers to have free/cheap access to all the manga they want, at the cost of fair wages for the people producing it for you? I hope not.
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whiskeyii



Joined: 29 May 2013
Posts: 1720
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:06 pm Reply with quote
lys wrote:
Lettering manga is my full-time job. In my experience, the per-book rate I get from digital-only manga publishers is less than half what I earn working for the print publishers. It's not sustainable for the professionals doing the work. Is it worth it to readers to have free/cheap access to all the manga they want, at the cost of fair wages for the people producing it for you? I hope not.


I honestly didn't know that lettering was still a job nowadays; I assumed it had faded out with the ease of use and access to programs like Photoshop, and that most creators would just do that part themselves. o.O

I do agree that region-locking seems like a primary cause for why some folks would turn to fansubs (another being that it's just straight up free), and I don't see that issue going away in a manga subscription platform. I think scanlations would still be around, but how much a legal avenue might cut into that traffic is totally up in the air for me.

Also, yeah, MangaFox is totally not legal (they have that "X series has been licensed" excuse for all of the series, licensed or not, if you access their site via the States), and definitely do not fall under the Fair Use clause.
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Somewhere



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 347
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:26 pm Reply with quote
The existence of legal avenues (for the popular series, at least) alone has not prevented the USA from being the #1 source of traffic for most of the popular manga scan aggregator sites I can think of. Source: Looking up sites on Alexa

It's more than just an availability issue. You need ADVANTAGES to convince people to fork over money.
Being the ethical option is enough for some people, but clearly not en masse as seen in the US.
Professional quality is a notable advantage for some people, but clearly not en masse.
In the bigger picture, a plurality of readers want whichever version is sufficiently readable (for them; but I do think that such people have frighteningly low standards) and, most importantly, first. And then somewhere in there, free always helps.

Edit: And I just remembered that Crunchyroll allows the latest chapter to be viewed for free, as that's how I read Nanatsu no Taizai now (I don't have a CR account of any sort). A legal and free option! The bulk of the fans.... still read the speedscans that come out a few days before.
Being first is nearly paramount; it takes a trainwreck of a scanlation job to deter people. And even then, you still have some people so damn desperate for a hit of whichever series they're addicted to*, that being first is the end-all be-all.

*alternatively, addicted to talking about the series with other people, and thus get dragged into whichever option others went with
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Asrialys



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 1109
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:03 pm Reply with quote
I'd be all over Amazon Unlimited if all the manga available on the Kindle Store were included...
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WingKing



Joined: 27 Apr 2015
Posts: 584
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:28 pm Reply with quote
rizuchan wrote:
WingKing, are you familiar with how the library receives Overdrive requests? Because I'd like to request my library get a bunch of manga on Overdrive, including and especially some of the BL stuff so I can stop filling up my bookshelf with one-shots I only read once... but would my name show up on the request form? Because I used to work there and while I've requested manga from them before, I'm a little hesitant to send in requests for BL stuff with my name on it for all my former coworkers to see... Embarassed

I mean, they probably wouldn't care, or just laugh but...


That's going to depend on how your system handles customer requests. In my system, it's usually people coming up to the info desk looking for a particular book that we can't get for them, either from our system or from interlibrary loan, and then we'll suggest that the customer can make a purchase request if it meets our criteria. We also have a few customers who either call or come in and just plain ask if we can buy certain titles in certain formats. Either way, we're happy to submit requests for them. I've also seen people use our "E-mail a Librarian" service to request items, and that's the most anonymous option since we don't require you to put your name on an e-mail question, just your e-mail address so we can reply. Then there are also some libraries (though not ours) where you can fill out and submit a purchase request right on the website. Those would go straight to the purchasing department, so your friends at the branch would never know anything about it. I'd suggest poking around your library's web site to see if they have an e-mail service or a submission form you can use. If you don't see anything online, you can always call a branch (maybe one you don't normally use if your system has more than one) and ask a staff member what your options are.

And for what it's worth, after 11 years working in libraries and some of the requests I've gotten over the years (like some of those urban fiction titles, for instance), there's frankly almost nothing that fazes me anymore. Whatever series you're most embarrassed about, I doubt anyone who's been in the trade for a while would even blink at it.
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Ali07



Joined: 01 Jun 2014
Posts: 3300
Location: Victoria, Australia
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 8:29 pm Reply with quote
lys wrote:
Lettering manga is my full-time job. In my experience, the per-book rate I get from digital-only manga publishers is less than half what I earn working for the print publishers. It's not sustainable for the professionals doing the work. Is it worth it to readers to have free/cheap access to all the manga they want, at the cost of fair wages for the people producing it for you? I hope not.

Disappointing to hear. Would hope that as more digital initiatives come, things will start to get better for you on the digital front.

Personally, I'll never go digital, when it comes to my reading. I'll grab whatever is in print, as I doubt that print will totally die off in my lifetime.

As for digital, I mainly like seeing it because it helps to widen the reach of the medium. But, as I mention, it does not impact me on a personal level.

Lastly, find it sad that someone thinks a site like MangaFox is legal. Shows that they can still pull the wool over some people's eyes.
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littlegreenwolf



Joined: 10 Aug 2002
Posts: 4780
Location: Seattle, WA
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:22 pm Reply with quote
Fakku's manga subscription has been going on now for about 6 months, and started with two magazines, and has recently added 3, and release all the chapters within a month of the Japanese release, with some chapters being released the same day as Japan.

Yeah, it's erotic manga - they're working directly with Wani, the publisher of the top selling ero-manga magazines in Japan, but the fact that the audience in the West for that is a lot smaller than mainstream shows that some out there are willing to pay a monthly fee for digital manga releases. Fakku plans on slowly integrating whatever books they have, adding additonal magazines, and have already worked on releasing some Western erotic comic artists along with it.

I'm also a letterer for Fakku, and the editors for both digital only and physical book release make a living wage. It can be done.
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CandisWhite
SubscriberSubscriber


Joined: 19 Apr 2015
Posts: 282
PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:07 pm Reply with quote
lys wrote:
Lettering manga is my full-time job. In my experience, the per-book rate I get from digital-only manga publishers is less than half what I earn working for the print publishers. It's not sustainable for the professionals doing the work. Is it worth it to readers to have free/cheap access to all the manga they want, at the cost of fair wages for the people producing it for you? I hope not.

Thank you for commenting. It's good to hear from people in the industry and how different decisions affect them.

I do think that many people just don't understand why things cost what they do, that it takes a lot of work and people to produce something, especially something of quality, and that those people need to be fairly compensated for that work: Would fans be willing to be slaves in their own careers?

When people complain that manga, which can be bought for around $13-15 brand-new, is expensive, I just roll my eyes because it is very telling as to either how little they've been around the book market, where the general cost is in the range of $10-$20 for domestic paperbacks and $25 for domestic comic trades, or how little they value books . And those are Canadian prices, so American is even cheaper.

The phrase "price point" exists for a reason: A $50 bottle of Pepsi and a $500 car would both raise eyebrows but for very different reasons; The effort, parts, and labour that go into a product account for its cost and what is fair to ask for compensation; You expect different things from the stock at Dollarama than you would from what's at Saks Fifth Avenue, should understand why that is and what the consequences, personal or societal, are for shopping at either store.

When we say that something was made "on ten bucks and a bus pass", it is a derogatory statement saying that the quality of work is poor and that it shows; In general, people want excellence: We want our creative minds to take the time to use their imagination and bring their best thoughts to life in their respective mediums; We want the people who bring those thoughts to us to do so in the best manner possible.

It is not too much to ask people to pay their fair share and I hope that digital purchases, which are the future for many people, can somehow reconcile with that. *

* I wrote this comment and then signed in; littlegreenwolf had since commented. I am very glad that some publishers have found a solution. Thumbs up!!!!!!!!!!!! Very Happy
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