Scanlation Crackdown Group Formed

Here’s an article about it from Publisher’s Weekly.  Yikes, everybody…so you haven’t been buying the books…hmmm…Actually, I know this very well, since NONE of you have bought a book from Amazon through the links I provide and less than .1% of you even click on the links.  All of you understand that “free” is not a business model.

Well, I certainly don’t do scanlation to hurt the publishers or the artists and I’m sad to see that consumers will not pay for their favorite manga titles when they do become available for purchase.  At the same time, manga at ~$10/volume, in the US, costs way too much for the target audience.    Also, there’s the problems of most US publishers being several years behind the Japanese release for manga series and don’t let me get started about the space and tree destroying issues associated with multiple volumes of a series.  Sigh…it’s all messed up and it will get even more messed up as lawyers are brought on board.  I really wish there way for us to all get along.

Anyhow…so the important thing to come up with is what to do about what’s going on.  I want to continue to introduce manga series that are not available in the US in hopes that they do become licensed so the artists can make some money for their labor.  I, too, would like to make money for my labor translating it. On the licensed manga front, I have removed Arakure (“Wild Ones”) from my blog, however, I cannot control distribution on the manga aggregation sites.  I will, though, take the step to no longer upload any of my translations of US licensed manga to any manga agreggation sites.  I also will start removing my translations of “Ouran High School Host” from my blog.  To the extent that I feel comfortable, I will continue to translate “Ouran,” until the series ends.  But I may consider a time limit for the postings.  What can you all do?  You can buy at least one volume of your favorite manga series, also, on the publisher’s website, make your desire for electronic manga known. Let the publishers know how much you are willing to pay for it.  Set their marketing experts’ and business people’s expectations correctly.  I will say, sooner or later, we all will have to pay.  And if we don’t pay with money, then we will pay with personal information or we will pay by having to waste our time looking at advertisements.

What do you think?

22 thoughts on “Scanlation Crackdown Group Formed

  1. I do buy my favorite manga series to support the mangaka. mostly i buy manga is from rightstuf and/or borders (whenever they have the coupon;p)
    reason is just like what you said, US publishers released the volumes way too slow and most fans are impatient to wait.
    your suggestion for the translated manga to be post for a limited time is also good idea. i'm all for it.

  2. i buy my favorite manga too..but its not from amazon, and i'm not buy from US publisher, because i'm not america citizen..
    i buy it in my country publisher..
    i read the scanlation because in my country, the released volume had some censor, it's disappoint us >_< i agree with your suggestion 😀

  3. i do buy my favorite manga too..but not from amazon (i dont paypall, and it's dollars), and i'm not buy from US publisher, because i'm not america citizen..
    i buy it in my country publisher..
    i read the scanlation because in my country, the released volume had some censor, it's disappoint us >_< i agree with your suggestion 😀

  4. @mich-_misu and @ladybezita — Thanks for your perspectives :). I'm glad you are buying the books. I especially appreciate the comments from non-US readers. There is a bit of self-censorship here in the US too from the actual publishers. That's also part of the reason I translate some series for myself. I also worry about people from outside the US for whom the Internet is the only way to access manga.

  5. I buy manga as well. Some manga, they release way too slow! However, I checked Barnes and Nobles for their Gakuen Alice releases, and it seems that this year, a volume of GA is being released every 2 months!! Can't wait to save enough money for this. Depending on how far a series is, I think Publishers are getting the heads up on speeding up the release process.

    I do notice though, that volumes are each less than 200 pages most of the time, the prices are rising, and we don't even get flaps or nice things with our manga D< I love reading the manga in some paper form, I don't have to zoom in or wait for it to load and I can refer back to it anytime. Putting manga online is okay too, considering the amount of paper it would save, but it destroys the experience. It also disappoints me when series get canceled midway in the US ]: I think I went off on a tangent multiple times, hopefully I got my opinion across o.x

  6. @Just out of Time — Yeah, the way they've been churning out GA is wonderful! Ouran drives me crazy! That series seems to be on a 6 – 9-month cycle.

    Some manga I like in paper form and some I like in electronic form. I like to read detailed manga like GA in paper, and lighter fair is fine on screen. I hate reading Japanese on screen. I get the books and the magazines and write in them and put sticky notes all over them. They look thoroughly “loved.” Many of my magazine look swollen because of all my sticky notes ;p.

  7. Hmmm… the small number of people buying from or clicking the links you've provided doesn't conclude that “NONE” but actual manga ^^;

    Like michi_misu, ladybezita, and just out of time, I also buy manga… but through local bookstores or those that my friend buys from me. And even if my Japanese is mediocre, I buy even japanese ones xD

    In my case though, if the releases outside Japan are slow, in my country it's EVEN SLOWER =_= Or worse, it won't get here at all. I already have a new fandom by the time a previous favorite reaches here. It's ALWAYS like that =_=

    There's the option to buy online but….. I can't. *depressed*

    I haven't read the article yet… will express my opnions about it in another time. ^^;

  8. @Pyro — Hahaha…I'm just peeved by my dwindling bank account. The truth is 80% of the readers of this blog are outside of the US, and of the US readers, over 70% of them are in California. I guess you could say I'm nagging them specifically ;p.

    I think the release schedule slowness, is a real problem. People get anxious and then go seek a source on the Internet knowing that the Japanese releases are years ahead. If the releases were around every 12-weeks and if they didn't lag so far behind the Japanese releases, that would probably help buyer loyalty.

    I think the argument presented in the article I linked to is very over simplified and reflects a complete misunderstanding of and disdain towards customers who would purchase. It also doesn't take into account that the global recession started in December of 2007, the time they started to see book sales falls. It seems to me that's it's a bunch of whiny business people who would rather suit than innovate. I wonder how much money they will give to lawyers over this. It would probably cost them less to negotiation with the scanlators and do their own electronic distribution than it will to chase down you and me for translating and reading fan translated manga.

    I don't think the publishers understand what the customers want and I don't think they understand that their price point is outrageous. I realize they are in a bind on the price point because it cost $10K – $50K anytime you start up a printing press regardless of the run size. That's why for many of the manga titles, electronic distribution would be be best.

    Personally, I would love nothing more than to work with the Japanese publishers to slip local or US specific advertisements into my scanlations for a small slice of the ad revenue. Come on! There's ways around this!

    On the subject of big aggregators like MangaFox and OneManga, I wouldn't cry if they went away. I could easily whip up a manga reader interface with Flash or Javascript if I needed to. What's important to me is a site like Baka Manga Updates so I can go to the actual scanlator's website. That way the actual scanlator can control distribution of their own scans. OneManga, though seems to be respectful when the publishers request for them to cease distributing titles. MangaFox, on the other hand, doesn't seem to give a damn. It really ticks me off to see actual English books uploaded. At least go through the trouble to translate it! Don't just steal someone else's translation!

  9. I currently own 78 volumes in japanese and 134 in english. I like to think I have in some way supported the manga industry.
    For me, scanlations increase my manga purchases (within the confines of my cashflow). I am more like to buy series I am familar with and authors I have read than chance a random manga. Also if I have been reading manga from my collection, or from a friend, or from a library, or online, I am more to want to buy manga.
    I am highly skeptical that scantalations is singlehandedly bringing down the manga industry. Most studies about the negative effects of piracy take for granted that piracy is harmful, and fail to look at other correlations that could be causing a negative downturn, or potential possitives.
    Also, sorry that I haven't bought alot through your links. Most manga I buy in a store.

  10. also @just out of time, are prices for manga going up? For English or Japanese? Back in '96 I was paying $12.95-25.00 an volume in English, until Mixx(now Tokyopop) started selling at $9.95, and they seem to be staying steady at that price..?

  11. Baka-Update Manga has removed all of the download links. I don't know what's going on, but I anticipate that the manga aggregator like MangaFox and OneManga will be shutdown very soon. It looks like the main problem is that these sites were making money on content that isn't there's. Personally, I think it's only right to shut those sites down.

    I will take a wait and see approach. Hopefully, the publishers aren't targeting the actual scanlators. If they do, then I don't know how they are going to build momentum for their product outside of Japan unless they publish English versions of all of their magazines simultaneously. Basically, I think they will cut themselves off from having an International market if they go too far. I hope sanity prevails in all of this. It would suck if I have to go back to writing summaries.

  12. Alright, here is my problem.

    The only way for me to have access Manga (and some Anime shows) is through the internet, there is no other alternative at all.

    Buying Manga in book form from Amazon,etc is a “no way” scenario to me, the shipping cost more than the manga itself, and i end up paying 25$ for just one volume?? no thanks.

    So that's why you see me mention that i want the Manga to be digitally distrubuted, have it like Steam, make an account and buy manga that will get tide to your account.
    I recently saw some very good efforts in this regard like eManga, but the content in their sites are pathetically low, I would love if the publishers jump in digital distribution because this is the only way for people like me to have access to manga… through the internet…

  13. i support your decision to stop scanlating series that have an english/US publications. I have all the english Ouran volumes released (by Chuangyi). 😉

    by scanlating manga not released in english, you are freely generating interest and buzz for the manga and also helping them assess the potential readership (especially with all the great quality scanlations you do!)
    working on titles to be released in english takes away their revenue, and takes away your bandwidth to work on other good projects.

    I think we won't see e-manga internationally distributed anytime soon though. it'll be like music where amazon and itunes only sells downloadable music in certain countries. or dvd region codes. damn those stupid publishing rights/copyrights/unilateral treaties – there to make more money for publishers. rightly said – “a bunch of whiny business people who would rather suit than innovate”.
    e-manga internationally available at fair prices will make readers and authors happy (and richer), but not publishers.

  14. @yambasket — I see your point about not scanlating something that's already being released English. I think with Ouran, though, the problem is that the English translation in the US is 2-years behind and they release volumes on a 6 – 9-month schedule. It's hard to keep readers engaged that way. I think Chuangyi is generally one volume behind the Japanese release — not bad at all (I have a bunch of their releases from the last time I was in Singapore). Unfortunately, we cannot get the Chuangyi translations in the US :(.

  15. @Rebecca
    Oh wow! Yeah, I have seen some older manga at that price range. Must've been harsh back then, manga probably wasn't as widespread or wellknown.

    That's true in Tokyopop's case, but it's a little unfair sometimes because the volumes could be huge or very thin and still be $9.95 :\

    Lucky! I would love to buy ChuangYi's English translated manga too, even if the quality of translation is a tad tad bit lower. They have so many series and they are way ahead. I've always wanted to buy the 30+ volumes of Pokemon Adventures from them as versus to the US because they are not far behind.

    I wonder, are there Omnibus editions in Japan as well? Because in America, it's a very good deal if you buy an Omnibus edition (3 volumes in one for only a few dollars more.) It's a little easier to buy your favorite manga like that, but it's harder to enjoy…

    Aside from that, I hear Yen Press is going to stop releasing their monthly magazines and start putting them online. We'll see how this works out and find out whether or not the transition for publishers to put these series online is a good idea. They've been doing this in Japan too (I saw this happened with the series, Shugo Chara)

  16. I would prefer to download it for a small fee instead of trying to buy the actual book. There are SO many volumes of manga that it be easier for me to just DL the chapters. I would not mind paying for this but have not seen a place I can officially download all the manga I want from the US publishers.

  17. I think that while the article has some valid points, I also agree that it does over simplify the problem.

    And as others have commented here, the US distribution is slower and I'm seeing more series get dropped without being finished, which is super frustrating. There are also numerous other series not even being translated (yet or ever will be). Then there is the price–for me it's harder to buy a $9.99 manga when I can get a great Chinese version for half the price, plus I think the quality of the overseas version is better. There's also the issue of the translation. The English versions aren't terrible but as some have mentioned here, there is some censorship and I just think some things don't translate as well into English.

    That all being said, I do purchase some US version mangas. AND I also do purchase the Chinese versions (even some Korean ones) of mangas/manhwas/manhuas. In fact, I have an entire bookshelf full of them, each shelf with 2-3 layers of manga, plus about 13 other boxes full of manga. There's also a local store where I can rent Chinese manhua as well. So I definately support the mangakas.

    I hope scanlators don't ever go away. For me at least, it's a great way to be introduced to even more series and mangakas I probably wouldn't know about otherwise.

    (PS. I'm from Cali!)

  18. I support your decision not to scanlate licensed manga in future. i didn't mean to say you shouldn't scanlate ouran (or anything) if you wanted to ^^ eheh… i have no right to do that 🙂

    i agree that some of chuangyi's editions are not that great. And due to international licensing agreements, chuangyi's cheaper editions will never get sold 'officially' in the US. don't see why they can't do a joint release though and release faster (hahaha!)

    If only authors had more royalty rights to works. then they can engage (good) scanlators to do paid translations and publish online with chapter/vols for sale, bypassing the middleman publishing houses. then again publishers invest so much to make author popular and take risks on unknown mangakas, so not many can take that route.

    anyway i think omari's sister doing a great job scanlating. happy anniversary!! and thank you for making good manga accessible to us!

  19. @NomNom and Yambasket — thanks for your insightful comments.

    I also like the idea of scanlators working directly with some of the lesser known mamgaka. I like the idea of scanlators working directly with the artists in general. The artists would get more money that way and the scanlators could be compensated for their labor. I think the publishers fear that the most. The Internet democratizes. The publishers argue that they are necessary to filter out the bad works and in some ways that's a valid claim. However, that's not the entirety of it. They choose titles based on marketability, so most manga titles would never escape Japan without the scanlators.

    @Yambasket — you make a good point about “good” scanlators. I think one of the things you get from the publishers in the US is really good quality control and editing. As a scanlator, I don't have access to a professional editor or QC people. I have to rely on volunteers. Fortunately, I have some EXCELLENT volunteers that help me polish the English and do proofreading. Though we don't catch 100% of the errors, I think we do a good job considering how fast we get a scanlation out. I think the quality aspect could be a sticking point with publishers or artists turning to scanlators. But as you said earlier, there are licensed versions that aren't so great out there…hahaha…well…

    I think one of the big problems with Japanese manga, in general, is their reliance on subscriptions rather than advertising for revenue. I think they should take advantage of scanlation by selling the ad space in the margins to International companies, rather than advertising their own books and other magazines that they publish. I also think they could work with the scanlators to get localized advertisements into the scanlations. The Japanese publishers can “turk” out the work and have their own aggregator sites if they want them. There are solutions out there! I hope that wisdom prevails.

  20. On the subject of US publishers usually being a couple of volumes behind:
    I recall a few years back the amount of hassle and bitching that Viz constantly received in regards to certain of their big series that they actually had caught to Japanese serialization, yet so many clueless souls would continue on and on about “When's the next volume coming out? It's been FOR-EEEEVER! What the hell are they doing (or NOT doing)?” etc, etc.
    As much as readers online are maybe now more clued in in regards to where japanese publishing-wise their favourite series are at (especially with the help of ultra useful sites like manga-updates),
    there's merits to both sides of the argument.
    So, yes, if their series publishing schedules mirrored more closely that of original Japanese release, than I agree that it would make a lot of people happier (me included!), and possibly make the need for following scanlations of those series much less necessary (though there will NEVER be the disappearance of zero-day Shounen Jump series scans, cuz once a Narutard (or Bleach or OnePiece weekly chap. leecher), always a Narutard…)

    Another thought.
    Viz actually IS rather good at zooming up to Japanese serialization with most of their titles, and a lot of the whole 'But their soooo behind' whining and bitching isn't based on reality, as usually once they get the license and start releasing, they usually go with a 2-3 month release schedule until they actually do get somewhat near Japanese release. So… at least what I've noticed, is that most of the wrongly directed whining and accusations is usually thrown when they haven't had enough time to get to the point of reaching serialization with the 2-3 month regular releases.
    Except for cases like Viz did with Naruto and One Piece (aka the 3 volumes a month mega bonanza they've done for both), it's not like they're going to suddenly release 5 to 15 volumes at once soon after licensing simply to please those online reader's that have become accustomed to getting their ultra-quick chapter releases.

    And using Ouran as an example, JP Vol.16 was released a couple of months back. ENG Vol.15 will be available this coming November. The ENG releases have been plodding along at about a volume every 6 months (balancing the 5month/7month discrepancies). The time between JP Vol. 13 and 14, as well as between 15 and 16, were both 8 month periods. (between 14 and 15 was “only” five months).
    If Viz keep up the slightly faster pace, than we may in a year see only a volume's difference.
    But if past experience serves a lesson, that still won't be enough, because so many seasoned online readers will still be demanding fresh monthly(-esque)new chapters.
    You mentioned conceptually regarding “publish(ing) English versions of all of their magazines simultaneously”, which of course won't likely happen unless the Japanese publishers are masochistic and yearn to hear the sweet strings of bankruptcy.
    A note to those who still do demand their fresh monthly fix even when they actually do match up with volume releases, this is where you… LEARN JAPANESE AND BUY THE DARN MAGAZINE, for gawdz sake. If you like a series THAT much, invest a few extra $$ into that which you love so much.
    (LaLa hasn't found it's way into my regulars, but Hana to Yume and a few others happily have to keep me up-to-date.)

    {BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: To those who don't live in the US/Canada or Singapore or Taiwan, or other country that can easily get localized volumes of the manga, I wasn't harping on you, as I'm on your side regarding many points regarding viable digital distribution that extends beyond only certain countries/territories.
    For those who DO have localized access… you don't get any sympathy from me, ya leech. :p )

  21. (cont.)
    Looking at other series (which I'm currently buying) as extended examples, Vampire Knight will now be caught up with volume 11 now listed, Skip Beat is catching up quickly enough with the JP 4month/ENG 3month release overlap, Otomen is following a similar catch up rate, yadda yadda, etc, etc.

    I DO respect the 'retiring' concept with the licensed series you do touch. I don't think that it's imperative that you retire the HanaKimi chaps this early though, as I imagine that at least a couple more sporadic one-shots from Nakajo-sensei will be needed before a compilation actually ends up being published Japan-wise (maybe sometime next year?)
    [Though, of course, it's not like someone who REALLY wants to read something that's retired can't find them elsewhere if they look hard enough)

    Sowwy! I either simply lurk or if I am motivated, it's essay length. ah well…

  22. @akashic — Thanks for you thoughtful comment/essay! I completely agree that if Viz caught up more closely to the Japanese releases of the series they've licensed, there'd be no reason for anyone to scanlate those series. Since they don't own a great number of titles, I don't see why they do near simultaneous Internet release of chapters with the Japanese release. I understand that a lot of time is eaten preparing materials to go to press and then actually waiting for time on a press. I think Netcomics has shown that kind of strategy can work.

    Learning Japanese and buying Japanese: I've heard a lot of people talking about this. It takes of a lot learning until you know enough Japanese to read manga. Also, unless you live in a city with a significant Japanese population, buying Japanese can cost A LOT because of shipping. The truth of the matter is that around the world the value of a $1 is different. To me it may be change, but someone else it could be half a day's wage. I feel bad for those people who can only access manga through scanlation.

    As for “retiring” — yes, that is the strategy I'm going to stick with. If people just want to keep up in with Japanese release, then it gives them the option to do just that. There's no reason to leave something out on the Internet long-term. On this front, I am also thinking about no longer having a download option for Ouran, but rather making it so people can read the chapter online.

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