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Manga Creator Criticizes Publishers' Attacks on Piracy Sites

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

Sales of physical manga compiled book volumes fell about 12% in Japan last year. While many people are pointing fingers at piracy websites, some think that fails to address other key issues related to manga sales. One such person is Yareta kamo Iinkai (The Almost Got Laid Committee) manga creator Takashi Yoshida. The Huffington Post Japan website discussed the matter with Yoshida via email and posted his comments on Friday.

Yoshida believes manga publishers and piracy sites are stuck in an endless loop of repetitive behavior because publishers fail to have a proactive response. He told The Huffington Post Japan, "Before trying to crush pirated versions, there are things that should be done."

He said, "I think they shouldn't crush pirated versions, but as businesses they should compete to win. Taking legal measures and shutting down [piracy sites] is completely meaningless and counterproductive." Because people have a natural attraction to convenience, Yoshida believes that simply attacking illegal distributors who often offer easy and free access to manga is ineffective.

While reproducing and distributing written materials without permission is illegal in Japan, only reading pirated manga is generally not seen as unlawful. "Piracy sites are illegal, but I think publishers' and publishing industry members' current reactions to that are the worst," Yoshida said. He wants industry members to evaluate if the problem of books not selling really originates from piracy sites or if there are other contributing factors. Yoshida noted that pirated versions of manga have existed for many years, and although some illegal distribution has been thwarted, physical manga sales have continued to decline since 2005.

Yoshida believes there are many problems with the way publishers currently produce and sell manga. He believes the industry fails to respond to consumers' concerns about pricing and availability and has persisted in using now outdated sales methods for the past 20 years. He thinks publishers need to bridge the disconnect with readers and find new ways to connect them to creators and publishers.

Yoshida is a unique manga creator in that he controls all the copyrights for his Yareta kamo Iinkai series himself. Although Futabasha publishes the manga's compiled book volumes, Yoshida manages digital distribution, video adaptations, and other secondary uses of his work. A live-action series adaptation of Yareta kamo Iinkai debuted on the AbemaTV streaming platform in January.

The creator told The Huffington Post Japan that people who use manga piracy sites tend to be manga fans as opposed to members of the mainstream population in Japan. Therefore, Yoshida believes that publishers' current efforts to oust piracy sites inadvertently attack the people they should be trying to serve. He thinks that ostracizing devoted manga fans while also failing to attract readers from the less interested general populace could ultimately cause the manga industry to fail.

Yoshida thinks that websites that legally allow fans to read a variety of manga for a set price could provide an answer. He recognized that such sites do already exist, but he believes that the selection of titles offered on such sites remains too limited. He also thinks prices for access to digital manga should decrease.

In addition, Yoshida suggested that publishers remove plastic covers on manga that prevent people from reading them in stores. He believes that could help bring people back to authorized physical sellers. He also wants publishers to be more selective about the works they choose to publish to reduce the number of publications.

Despite Yoshida's ideas for improvement, he remains skeptical that publishers will follow through. He said, "There's nothing new about what I'm saying, and various people have said it in the past. Nevertheless, it didn't change." He added that he feels he may not have the authority to comment on the problems of publishing in the manga industry because he is not part of a publishing company himself. Even if his opinions are worth considering, he doubts that publishers are likely to take his recommendations seriously.

Thanks to ravegrl for the tip.

Source: The Huffington Post Japan (Aya Ikuta)

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