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Top Mangaka: “Publishers Are The Ones Raping Us!”


Blockbuster mangaka Shūhō Satō was so disgusted by the exploitation he endured at the hands of big publishers that he exposed them in a series of damaging online revelations, and then started his own online manga distribution service in competition.

He lays bare the exploitative publishing industry straitjacket forced on mangaka in a candid interview, reproduced below.


Mangaka Shūhō Satō, author of such titles as “Umizaru” (published in Weekly Young Sunday) and “Say Hello to Blackjack” (Weekly Morning), has enjoyed great success, with Blackjack selling over 10 million copies and both having been adapted into TV dramas and movies.

Thus he is no rookie, having successfully been in the trade over a decade, but this only amplified his grievances, culminating in him making a damning series of accusations against publishers, complaining of dishonest and unethical practices, financial exploitation and high handed treatment.

He even relates that he felt he had no choice but to stop coast guard manga Umizaru in response to editorial demands that he portray the (then) Japanese Maritime Safety Agency as heroes of justice rather than a realistic organization sometimes forced to make difficult choices.

So aggrieved was he over these abuses that he decided the time was finally right for mangaka to make a clean break with the publishing industry dinosaur and embrace new technology and consumer behavior – he started Manga on Web, an independently operated online manga distribution site.

The site can be visited here (it requires significant knowledge of Japanese to navigate) – a large number of unknown titles, as well as his own, are available. Prices start at ¥10 per chapter, and are readable online in generous resolution in a normal browser, with free previews available – in fact covering most of the usual complaints levelled against online manga.

Speaking about how the publishing industry treats its mangaka in a recent interview, he pulls no punches:

You even revealed on your site that the manuscript fees you received for “Blackjack ni Yoroshiku” [a manga which sold over 10 million copies] whilst writing it under Kodansha amounted to only ¥23,000 [$250] per page, out of which you had to pay your assistants and even the cost of your own office, and as a result you were actually losing money, taking into account only those fees?

It’s a business so money is the first thing you have to talk about, and it’s weird to have an atmosphere where that is off the table. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal when you write about it on a site.

After all, even with part-time work you wouldn’t start working without even knowing your hourly wage, would you?

Even when I spoke to my editors about this, they came out with “only the editor-in-chief knows the fees for manuscripts, so it’s nothing to do with us!”

They didn’t make clear how much the guaranteed fee was, and writing manga like this without so much as a contract is pretty messed up, so I had a specialist draw one up for me. A lot of mangaka don’t even do this. They just don’t get that a contract is essential.

You were losing money on the manuscript fee, but weren’t you raking it in with the royalties?

No, it’s absolutely nothing like that. Even with a manga that sells a million copies, you’re getting less than 0.1%. I’m operating as a company, Sato Manga Works Ltd., but as the head of a tiny company I’m not making much at all.

Even with a hit title which sells a million copies, selling at ¥500 each, the sales might come to ¥50,000,000. You can get 4 volumes out in a year so that might be ¥200,000,000 [$2.2 million] annually. That’s nothing special.

Because that’s just the turnover – it isn’t my income. Employing 5-6 assistants is nothing to be sniffed at. And with only 0.1% or less being received as royalties, you can easily see it’s a bad business to be in.

And on top of that, the vast majority of mangaka don’t even sell tankobon like this. If even the top mangaka can’t rake it in there’s no real appeal to it as an occupation.

If mangaka can’t aspire to hit it big with a million seller and never have to worry about money again, they have no dream to aspire to.

And on top of all this half of it goes to the taxman.


But you can put out lots of volumes, and you have movie royalties and merchandising sales to look forward to?

That’s just a tiny fraction. As I said, you really don’t make much. Sure, the odd manga gets turned into an anime and game, and then the goods start flying off the shelves, but there are only a few people like that. The authors of One Piece or Dragon Ball might be like that, but for everyone else it isn’t.

And when it gets turned into a live action drama, there are no character goods at all!

For Umizaru, the first movies caused a new printing, but the next movies had no impact on manga sales, and for the TV drama we got a paltry ¥300,000 an episode. The movie grossed ¥700,000,000, but I didn’t see a penny in royalties – it was just paid as a flat fee beforehand. That is messed up, so in future I’ll insist on royalties.

When I was a kid reading these, I used to imagine the mangaka in the weekly magazines were all super-rich, but to think they were actually losing money on the manuscript fees…

Publishers have lately been keen to portray any decline in sales as wicked manga downloaders robbing mangaka of their livelihoods, although it seems rather more likely it is the publishers doing the robbing, ensuring that mangaka remain entirely under their financial and editorial thrall.

Little wonder then that they fear the opportunities offered by digital publishing so greatly – were mangaka to finally realise that for years now they have been able to sell directly to fans with no publisher intercession, they might finally break free of their financial control and cause the whole rotten structure to come tumbling down, only to be replaced by arrangements entirely alien to the big publishers.

Fortunately for publishers it seems most mangaka are sufficiently servile as to obey the established tradition without question (and they are evidently all but devoid of sound business sense), although ever shrinking circulations and rising demand for digital sales threaten this status quo ever more.

Leave a Comment


  • Does this man have a paypal account? As a hero among mangaka he deserves to be rewarded!

    Need more people to do this and break the corrupt publishing system that does near nothing to make online distribution successful due to making a ton the old fashioned way.

  • Anonymous says:

    That explains quite a lot.
    It’s pretty much like several industries we know, but it seems japanese publishers exploits the condition of most mangakas.
    I guess they ain’t expect an uprising, considering the subservience of most of those people which is embedded on their culture and stuff.
    I do hope Shuho Sato serves as and example though. And kudos to him.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hiring assistants isn’t really that expensive and having them makes a hell of a difference, the product is much better. With the low income they get and lack of publisher support well, I can see why its not that easy to get them.

    A little bit could be invested to have a way better product and they don’t do it, thats bizarro business.

  • Anonymous says:

    11cents/chapter & 1chapter/week = 44 cents/month (approx)
    If you follow 10 different serialized manga = $4.40/month.
    Heck a single meal at a fast food place costs about as much. Definitely affordable, plus you know most of the money is going to directly support the mangaka/staff & the series. I am all for it!
    Now only if I could read Japanese >.>

    Well maybe the mangaka could work with the free scanlators and have us pay for the translated work through them somehow?

  • Anonymous says:

    Mangakas never get enough food to feed their empty stomach in the first place. Publishers blame pirates for mangaka’s slim profit. In reality, publisher is the dogs who eats mangaka’s meal. Publishers see pirates as an eyesore that makes their meal smaller and less nutrient. Remember when Hollywood complainted about cassette recorder when it came out. They said people will use it to pirate and they would lose money. The same happened for CD recorder. What happen in the end? They’re still fucking rich, despite how much pirate copies of their stuffs. Fuck that, I don’t give a damn about them. They’re just fatty, arrogant, greedy, and disgusting pigs trying to milk money out of their employees, whose work like dogs to fill their owners pocket with money. Sorry if I sound bias because I don’t like publishers and all kind of middlemen, they’re just fucked up. I know that basically, they’re all business men, and trying to make profits but honestly, the way they’re doing shit right now just make only them happy and pissing off their clients, both artists and consumers.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think this is a fantastic idea since the technology trend is growing even more popular and if it’s done correctly, it can be a great interaction with the managaka and the readers.

  • Anonymous says:

    If the mangaka did a complete stop (it’s hammer time!!) they could pool their works together and create their own internet based webs of joy. There are SO many scanlators and site builders out there that do it for free I’m sure they would have no trouble finding them with an ad or two.

    Have a nicely built Japanese site for their tastes and eastern fans, and a more bland one for us western folk that are used to bland. Well, bland compared to the Japanese tastes. Have all your favorite manga in one place, you pay to view, have good quality scans, use some of that vast talent out there that does such a great job at the moment for fun, have them do it for a small $$. Could even sell their collected volumes every few months for those that want such things (like myself) And try their hand at their own quirky merch

    And the idea you can’t make money off digital art is flawed. Do most webcomics (which I guess an online manga would become basically) make a lot? No. But some make a nice little living off it. And look at manga, most have a following already so wherever they go, fans will follow.

    So it’s not like they are starting from scratch. They are just moving themselves to a better place and the fans with them. Free newsletters. POD to get word out in some paper form. Charge a fee and odds are they will actually make more money, especially the lucky few that get an anime or game as those profits will fall to the creator and not the publisher.

    Will there still be pirates? Oh yes. Forever and a day. But that is just the nature of the beast. The biggest obstacle I see are the mangaka themselves. I mean they might not be making much now, but they would take a pretty big gamble leaving their publishers to go on this kind of venture. American artists have pooled together and left to create their own place that was beautiful at first. It can be done.

    tl;dr? It would work if they tried and worked with the resources already in place.

  • Firetribe says:

    People are going overboard with wanting digital distribution by demonizing publishers. I don’t know how DD could work effectively without them.I don’t really trust this guy either. It appears he’s only badmouthing them to to promote his business.

  • Anonymous says:

    File sharing is bad for the publishers. Mangaka will get their money regardless of file sharing. Sato will notice it soon enough with this new venture. He has stepped in a terrain publishers refused to explore: digital sales. And he’ll make gold from it.

    Now, if he would start an international version of the site with english translations… <3 <3 <3 <3

  • destroyah3034 says:

    Someone should give Shūhō Satō a medal. He has the right idea and what is even better, we can apply this to most published works which nickel and dime their fans and the authors themselves.

    An online model like this would definitely be the way to go to increase profits for mangakas and their staff, while increasing the flow of manga to the fans. The only condition that I can think of to make this work would be to avoid DRM. Just use an online reader and provide plugins for portable devices so you can read on the road, and you have a winning combo.

    If they have enough money available, they may even hire an English translator and sell the chapters directly to their fans over-seas. They’ll make a mint.

  • Sandalphon says:

    So glad there are people willing to switch out the rotten gears in the manga publishing business. Now it’s our turn to support the motion. I’ma go buy some chapters right now.

  • Anonymous says:

    When you buy the book on American markets, I’m surprised you thought even 10 cents got to the manga creators. No, the point of buying actual manga is so that America keeps releasing them. If nobody bought them then no more would be published, and then where would we be? Back to pirated scanlations where the mangaka doesn’t even get the one cent they got from actual publishing. You buy so the market stays up, which is at least fractionally better than pirated scans. It’s the only reason I buy anything in niche markets: so the market stays.

  • Anonymous says:

    This really isn’t new. And you think this applies to Japan only? The American comic book industry is just as terrible, with payout as little as ten cents a page in the 80s as the flat downpayment, with royalties being, yep, .01% and maybe only AFTER the comic book sells above a certain number of copies…say 10,000. The problem is that the creators are well…creators! They didn’t go to school for business or law so it’s a lot easier to pull the wool over their eyes, and when their eyes are open they’re already in the grips of the industry, whether it be by shady contracts or what have you. Good luck getting into a legal battle over your rights when you don’t have a dime to your name because they’ve sucked it all away!

    Or you can think of the regular book-publishing industry, where above 80% of book sales come from a miniscule amount of all published books. Good luck selling more than a few thousand there…people only care about bestsellers apparently.

    It’s a hard business to be in when anyone can be in it. Have a complaint as to your pay? Well I guess a different artist is going to be working on “The Return of Bruce Wayne” then, bye! That’s how the publishers are. How to break it, I don’t know. Self-publishing is a huge money-sink and very very risky.

  • He’s doing some exaggerating for his own benefit. The point about the page rates is well-taken, though. Mangaka who are not fast or who do detailed work are usually losing on the page rates and relying on the collection sales (to be fair, the publishers generally lose on the magazine sales, as well). Mangaka tend to get very little from things like games and movies (just like everywhere else in the world).
    But 0.1% for a royalty rate on collections is a steaming load of crap. I’ve been reading interviews with mangaka and editors for almost 20 years and the royalty rates range from 6% to 13% depending on popularity, longevity, and clout. (There is a rumor that Inoue got 21% for Vagabond,which seems unlikely, but on the other hand he’s one of the rare mangaka with an agent and a lawyer.)
    As for his online manga business, get back to me in a couple of years. All he’s doing is letting the pirates skip the scanning step.
    On-line manga have been tried before, and doubtless will be tried again, but it has always failed eventually. Every single time.
    But I agree that if someone can somehow make it work, everyone wins. Still, I remain skeptical it can be done. In fact, I believe that over the next five to ten years, the value of anything that can be digitized will be zero.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree that he is exaggerating but at the same time his point stands, he is not being paid the fair amount considering how much he works and how much revenue his work generates.

      And on Inoue’s case, his is lucky to have his wife as his lawyer/agent, many other’s doesn’t have that luck or know the secrets of the trade and that’s when the fish (the new mangaka) bites the hook (the publisher’s unfair offering).

    • Firetribe says:

      Good point. I don’t see how digital distribution would solve anything. In theory, digital manga is supposed to allow you to view the product before you buy it. Not much of that happening, I’m afraid.Even when the product is free.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t stick to your old ways or you’ll never progress. Games are mostly going completely digital and yet their value has never bene higher. Ask Blizzard. As far as the royalty rate goes, soem amaericna authors are VERY lucky to get 10%. So… I’m not sure if you were reading lies these last few decades and just not seeing the truth or you were just readign the few lucky ones.

      Remember, this is JAPAN we’re talking about. Where you fit in. Where you tell little lies if you are told to to make something better. Where you never speak your mind. Where, even in the worst cases, you still act upbeat and don;t let others know how bad it is.

      They are changing, that’s true. But it’s very much a culutrual thing and yes, I know I’m misspelling stuff.

  • Daiyousei says:

    While I agree with the general idea, I can’t help but think this article is a tad bit biased. Artefact, I wonder sometimes if you are trying to avoid taking sides.

    It would be interesting to get statistics on how much the publishers make compared to how much the mangaka make, though that may be a bit tough. Publishers tend to hold that sort of information rather close.

  • I’ve known about this for years. I wanted to further develop my artistic skills and become a mangaka back when I was in high school but gave up on that dream when I found out how much a mangaka is cheated. Currently there is a manga called Bakumon and the hardships of a mangaka that’s told in this story BARELY scratches the surface. You can sell millions to tens of millions of copies of your work but like this guy says you don’t get anything. It’s much more profitable being a regular author rather than a mangaka. You can better negotiate to make sure if your book makes even a few hundred thousand sales you will be properly compensated. If your book makes it big then you could be rich no question about it. You would like to think by buying manga that you support the author but unless the sales add up to hundreds of millions in copies then your only supporting the publisher not the creator. In short, you have to really be the next Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and such big names in order to be successful otherwise you will just be popular not rich. One funny thing about this is if you do write a book that’s the right type then it could be adapted into a manga/graphic novel and you will earn royalties from that as well. So funny it makes you want to cry doesn’t it?

    • yuriphoria says:

      If even the top mangaka can’t rake it in there’s no real appeal to it as an occupation.

      If mangaka can’t aspire to hit it big with a million seller and never have to worry about money again, they have no dream to aspire to.

      What about the appeal and dream of making manga itself? Bah, this guy has no hearth no wonder I’ve never heard of his manga.

      Aaaaanyway, I’d suggest something radical and say that he may try publishing on any of the American webcomic platforms like keenspot. They already have got all of the hosting problems solved and he can share some of the revenue via advertisers. Plus offering shirts ans mugs and printings works very well for popular webcomics in English.

      I mean, lets just pull some numbers out from our ass and assume he’s going to get a piracy to business rate of 1000:1, at that extent, and at a price like ¥10, doesn’t it make more sense to draw money from the online publishing alone?

      • Anonymous says:

        This guy is insanely popular and makes insanely popular manga. And just because we dream of making something doesn’t mean we don’t want to be able to LIVE OFF OF IT TOO dumbass.

  • Most publishers have a lot of money invested in printing and a lot of their processes involve this. I don’t think they can simply switch over to digital overnight, but they should be considering it.

    Most people wouldn’t know how to put up their own distribution site so they can still net mangaka under their umbrella as an online publisher.

    • Anonymous says:

      Nobody? PFFY Yeah, that’s why his shit got turned into a movie. Yeah, like that happen everyday. At best, your usual manga becomes an anime ova or earns a tv run. Rarely does it become a live action piece. Most live action shows are original content, in Japan.

      • actually its a cost, content, and audience type of thing.

        the thing that got turned into a movie was a serious manga, think old boy.

        i cant say anything for the plot.

        the cost to make the movie may have been less than to animate the same thing, and because its serious it can be done live action, you dont want to turn most shonen fighting manga into a live action movie… and no i want thinking dragon ball when i wrote that but i realisms it after the fact.

        and in japan, you are likely to get your ass kicked at the very least for liking anime after a certain age. for a serious manga trying to get a wider audience, live action was more or less a must.

    • he isnt so huge he gets his dick sucked to stay somewhere, but is isnt a nobody either.

      he is the middle ground between established, and the big 3, where most mangaka ever get in there carriers.

  • Bakamoichigei says:

    Makes me wonder if mangaka wouldn’t be better off just going with the webcomic business model, where they put it up basically for free, and readers can donate, buy print copies (including premium signed copies), and buy merchandise.

    And then if publishers want their comics for a monthly, they’ll have to license them. Fuck contracts, make the monthly manga mags enter into bidding wars over popular titles quarterly!

    For published mangaka who are used to doing a month’s work at a time, it could prove beneficial to break each chapter into weekly chunks. Like Warren Ellis’ online publication of his ‘Freak Angels’ comic, where it’s 100% polished TPB-quality comic released 6 pages every Friday, instead of a hectic M-W-F webcomic schedule or the like.

    Obviously publishers are going to scream bloody murder about their publishing rights if they license it because of it being on the net basically for free already. But I think there’s probably enough people who will pay for a monthly mag just to have a lot of comics in one place every month, and maybe discover new titles to follow.

    The manga industry needs to wake the hell up and realize they can’t do this to their artists. Artistic talent is a gift, even rarer when combined with good storytelling. Any mangaka worth their ink should be exalted.

    And mangaka need to wake up and realize that, while it may be difficult at first, it IS possible to get out from under this tyrannical bullshit once and for all. They owe it to themselves and their readers.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only problem I see with your proposal is that anthologies in japan go to the trash bin as soon as they are read so their paper gets recycled into new ones. Collectors keep their tankoubons, not anthologies.

      This man’s proposal is realistic, do through the web what the anthology does (exposure), and get money from the tankoubons. The problem is: how he’ll do to have as much exposure that he had at a for more established magazine that already has many thousands of readers – sure, internet has the potential of getting far more exposure, but he must has some means to get the word about his site to spread and everyone that has/had a site knows that it take lots o time and hard work to get something out of it.

      Many mangaka doesn’t want to take the risk he is taking, more may take in the future if more of such experiences are successful, the old model has an enormous number of success to back his existence and viability, the new one has only a few (and a great number of cases that died prematurely) that still keeps it in the grounds of a possibility but not an answer yet.

    • Anonymous says:

      Look at Penny Arcade and CAD. They make a pretty good living from their net work and yes, expand it into paper form. By pure luck, talent, or good sense, they have made a decent life of it. I’d think mangaka could as well, especially pooling together. Maybe some of the best should go and start their own like Image back in the day. Though… that’s probably not a good one to point out as it fell apart over time to bad choices and egos.

  • OK, he made a good first step – establishing an online service with a website that doesn’t need a proxy to view outside Japan.

    Next he should work with a fan-translation group to sell overseas and finally break their Japanese xenophoby marketing…

  • jamesownsall says:

    Well, if what he said is completely true, then publishers have been taking an unfair percentage of sales to the mangakas.

    Before the publishers successfully trample online distribution of mangas using piracy as an excuse, more mangakas need to wake up and smell the coffee, and realize that their rightful cut of the pie is much less than they’re entitled to. It shouldn’t be a problem with how easy you can set up a server and make a website anyway.

    …On the other hand, this man’s seemingly brave and loud opposition against publishers may be just a publicity stunt.

  • Dirty_Dingus008 says:

    I never truly knew about the horrors that all Mangakas where put thru and this mans’ observations are most illuminating.

    It’s a damn shame this site isn’t in Japanese~ Imagine the light bulbs popping up thru the land if his worlds carried further beyond into the eyes of those said Mangakas…

    • you are a prick, but you have a great point, any of you ever been to a japanese site that wasn’t a clusterfuck or mainstream?

      they need to pay a western web developer to handle the making of the site, and to streamline the fuck out of it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just a different culture so to them, western sites probably look bland and boring as hell.Were is the moe? Where is the instant scrolling of text replies overtop of each other? Different tastes and all that.

        • Anonymous says:

          odds are they fear the change. Not even fear really so much as the cultural thing of fitting in, keeping your mouth shut, staying the same, don’t stand out, don’t be different. So, pobably change is what they don’t want even if the younger generations are bringing it.

        • no i get different tastes. however, japaneses sites, especially fan made sites, are a cluster fuck and a wall of text that has next to no styling. its like how western sited looked 15 years ago.

          they realy need to steep it up, because i would probably rather pirate than deal with those kind of cluster fuck sites.

  • WeeWaaWeeWaa says:

    What! So you mean all those ”please support by buying the real book” are misleaded?! And the manga i bought in real life didn’t really support much for the people i wanted to support?

  • Barbarian of Gor says:

    I raise my sword in salute of this man!!!

    Well, Hurdy Gurdy or rather Digital keyboard;-)

    As people who tell stories, play music, create images, act dramas, all who have “The Muse” have been in the worst dark age in modern history this last century. Mass production and industrialization has driven 95% of the “Creative” class to have to find work elsewhere and those “In” have been at the mercy and covetous choice of those that “Own the means of production”.

    And in their dictatorship, the parasite bankers, those that live off the labor of others, have produced deliberately bland crud. They have worked hard to keep out any real talent, to make sure no true “Storyteller” gets through, only a bunch of hacks and people “Just doing a job”.

    In the past, the kings didn’t fear the king in the petty kingdom over the hills, they feared bards. I won’t go into the history, save that the (yeah right) “Legendary” King Arthur was very promotive of bards…which should say it all.

    But as kings were replaced by bankers, the bankers did the real damage to people, and we bards stood by them. So when “Industry” took over the public entertainment, they made sure to purge any real storytellers. A few got through, but those people had to constantly fight to keep even the slightest things in their stories, the bankers going out of their way to sabotage them.

    We are in a time where this can change.

    1. Don’t support “Big Media”. Don’t go to movies, watch TV or buy “New” products. Watch it on the net, wait a while and buy “Used” copies, etc. if you must get something.

    —That should be quite easy as while I always get these “Capatalist worshipping lickspigots” trolling me, most of us probably hate what’s on “Mainstream” TV, music, whatever.

    2. Seek out and support “Independant” acts like this man. Not just as charity, but find what you like. Without “Big Media” we can almost all of us find a “Niche” we like, or if we have the “muse” even make our own.

    —NO “DRM”, etc. It’s time everyone realizes that ALL Music, TV, art, etc. is a form of “Busking” no matter how glorified. “Big Media”s mistake is to think they can “Own” it. Bull. People pay for what they like, as it should be.

    3. Do everything they can to disrupt the “Media Monopolies”. Bleeding them is part of the assault, but also scream for your local politicians to do things like enforce “Monopoly” laws. A radio “Paylist” should be illegal, for instance. There should be more public access to radio, more public TV channels since cable makes many more possible, and TV stations should not be able to refuse legitimate advertisement.

    4. Another part is the “Marketplace”. In every city/town there needs to be a “Bazaar” where anyone can go to buy, sell, perform with only the tiniest of laws affecting it.

    It’s war and the “Big Media” companies need to be bled dry.

      • Barbarian of Gor says:

        I’m not being “Communist” DoooOOOOooooDDDDDD…

        I’m arguing for a “Free Market”.

        What’s the difference:

        1. A “State owned Media” where artists/performers/writers, etc. can only do works that praise the state, it’s leaders and its official views of society…

        2. A “Corporate PC Media” owned by a handful of companies that work hand in hand with the govenrment getting tax breaks, subsidies, outright handouts in exchange for inserting a few “Public Service” messages now and again and having various “Themes” in it’s shows.

        The answer is “Very Little”.

        The latter might not, technically, have the exclusive legal right to publish, but they have even effectively more control. And, frankly, they are worse than #1 for #1 at least tries to cheer society along, not just churns out bland, vapid garbage in between advertisements.

        The failure of Capitalism is that when somebody “Wins” the game the house of cards built to do it collapses after an era of misery for most in it. Communism is in a strong sense a reaction to that failing.

        I’m not really for “Capitalism” or “Communism”, I’m for “Trade”. I believe totally in buying/selling one’s wares, labors and yes even “Music”. I just don’t believe in setting up systems where people can be totally supported third hand in immense wealth off the labor of others. Nothing is certain in life. That is a hard and fast rule. Setting up systems to try to get around this is a cruel, evil lie.

        I am for “Trade” in that a person should be able to sell his wares at the market. Besides their suppression of music, one of the biggest crimes of the Capitalist (and goals) is to control the market, to make sure the market is as non-free as possible, as long as it is to his advantage.

  • PrinceHeir says:

    the only problem is that if mangaka’s will release their work on their site what about the others? does this mean we have to go directly to their site just to buy they’re manga?(not that i mind) it would be cool if there’s a steam like system that let’s you dl the manga and get’s updated if there was a typo or any error with a fair price that goes directly to them that would be sweet 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      All you would need in that situation where everybody has their own website is a ‘referring’ site of some sort that keeps a listing of ALL the websites of mangaka…. sorta like Adult Manga Mafia did for adult doujin sites for a period of time.

      • It’d be a good time for us to learn Japanese and jump into the business to fill the void. In fact you could be the middle man to negotiate merchandising for them. If you do it for enough people you can lower your fee for the mangakas.

  • baronight says:

    i believe there is simply no reason to go for publisher anymore…cut that so-called-middleman, release manga on your own site and get subscription fee from reader. If the website have huge traffic, go add few ads banner on your site to reduce bandwidth cost of maintaining your site…

    it’s a win-win situation for both mangaka and reader

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s the new age of Self-digital publishing…..! All publishing houses and Scalaton groupd will either battle over this r they will get to an agreement. Whatever happens, who knows?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve talk with some people in the publishing business (not on manga though, but with RPG publishing, and those guys love their hobby, not the business conglomerate like Wizards of the Coast), and they have thinkered about going full digital publishing but the problem they’ve found is how far internet can take the word about their product.

      They did a research and found that a significant number of their customers didn’t used the internet for their needs, many getting information about new books from their local bookstore, and that many used the web for research, facebook and IM only and didn’t looked for RPG communities/blogs/etc on the web.

      This is a problem that many online publishers find, the web distribution opens a more direct and easy way of selling at the cost of how much they can sell by the traditional stablished media. So that’s why both forms of business, traditional and digital still exists and will exist together for a long time (I, and some others to whom I have spoken also happen to have a fetish for paper, I’ve bought a few e-books but if I can get the paper version or print them, I do it).

      • Anonymous says:

        We’re talking about Japan, though. It’s probably a good assumption that the average Japanese manga reader is considerably more internet-affine than the average American bookstore dweller.

      • Anonymous says:

        Have to agree with you. If the manga is good enough i have to problem shelling out the money for the volume. Its different reading it online and having the actual volume in your hand.

      • I think this is a real opportunity for the whole manga market… If now the mangakas who are interested in such distribution they should hire someone to make a good homepage and directly some translators – these would only work on manga translation so that a whole bunch of mangas would be available for people who can’t understand japanese. That would definitely raise the popularity of only distribution and scanlator haven’t got a reason to do it anymore.

        • Anonymous says:

          I think you guys are thinking too deep. All it takes is a watermark, kinda like the binktopia watermark. You can also add a footnote, say like an advertisement to his own manga site, along with why you shouldn’t pirate it. Once you do that, I think 90% of the pirates will actually pay for the manga, while the 10% cheap asses will be left with no one to distribute the manga freely.
          If you’re so concerned about copying, you can always embed the manga in some kind of built in manga reader. So people can just download an .exe file every week. Most pirate wouldn’t even bother pressing printscreen for 10 cents a chapter..
          good solution, no?

        • Anonymous says:

          Pirates aren’t going to mess this up. Let’s get REAL AND DIRTY here……. pirates, by and large, cannot afford the actual thing in question and that is why they are pirating!

        • Anonymous says:

          ‘Even if you put something out for free, someone will pirate it.’ In some jurisdictions that would be impossible. In many European countries for example you cannot charge someone with copyright infringement unless you yourself stand to make a profit out of the material. Of course, you could distribute your comic with ads, but then it isn’t really free any more.

        • Anonymous says:


          I din’t think a centralized platform for manga(or better 2 or 3 in order to have competition) would really cause as much of a problem as publishers.
          Look at iBooks and the Apple AppStore:
          30% to apple, 70% to you.
          That is almost fair(i would have gome for 25 75).

          The greatest problem i think is exposure.

        • Anonymous says:

          Plus, people are pirating manga anyway. The only difference is that it will take very slightly less time before people are able to get it for free (since nobody will have to buy a copy of the magazine and scan it, which takes all of 10 minutes). And if the prices were lower and you were actually supporting the mangaka by buying it, I think a larger number of people would buy them.

        • We seemed to have two sides of the opinion. Either “Piracy is going to fuck this up” or “This would be the greatest thing ever” I think it’s potentially a little of both.

          Addressing the piracy issue: Henwy mentioned an indie game studio running a test to see if people would still pirate their game at a penny’s cost. I looked up that case and read about it briefly.

          I think it was slightly off. We can’t necessarily assume people knew about this product or that they were selling it for a penny. Once one pirate has a link and posts it on the internet people are going to download it. You think they’re going to read about the 1 penny deal that way?

          Hassle also factors in. When someone provides a direct way to get a product and you’re offered an alternative of logging into paypal or filling out forms to pay a penny for something you’re not even sure you wanted in the first place?

          On the other hand, why its potentially dangerous for mangaka to do this:

          One, established series (I’d imagine anyway) probably have some contractual obligations. I don’t think they would all necessarily have the freedom to just say “Screw you” and do it on their own

          Two, those who aren’t very well known are not very likely to get well known unless they get exposure from a big name publisher in the first place. If they, for instance, just sold their stuff on a little site.. How would they ever break out of a double or triple figure fanbase?

          Three, you’d almost have to create a platform like Steam where the manga from different mangaka were centralized. In order to do that you’d have to have someone in control of that. Which could lead to similar potential problems that they are having with publishers.

          So yeah. @_@

        • You’re either naive or stupid. An indie game company (Wolfire games) recently had a ‘sale’ where they charged as little as a penny for 5 games and they found that 25% of the traffic downloading the games were still pirating them as opposed to tossing in the penny. The company actually requested that pirates just put the games up on bittorrent because at least that way they wouldn’t be raping the company’s bandwidth while not paying diddily to boot.

        • Usually the reasoning for pirating is because the item in question is too fucking expensive for its worth. Sure it will always exist because there are some cheapasses, but i could see this working well for them. I’d pay a modest subscription fee to have unlimited access than shovel out a shit load of money for the book.

          This goes double for the overseas effort, this could literally fuck all the US companies (*does the happy dance*). I’ll support any effort that puts companies like Funimation out of business. I just hope that the Mangaka consider us english readers (a large source of revenue) for english translations along with the raws. If they do then the possibilities are endless, and maybe then the mangaka will make more money than 2 homeless guys fighting over a steak…

      • Oh yea, sure 10yen(probably varies depending on mangaka) per chapter is sure expensive! you’d rather go out and get a manga volume that only contains 4-8 chapters and fork out 600yen? for god sake, even scanlaters could take 10yen/cent out of their own pocket and pay for a chapter and then translate it in to English.

    • TehBoringOne says:

      That could change the situation for good. Publishing online is much easier than arrangements with a big publishing company, I would think.

      A mangaka could then sell directly to his/her public and we would all be happy. We get our entertainment, and they get the money to put food on their tables.

        • Anonymous says:

          To my knowledge, there aren’t any proper bandwidth limits on the fiber lines you get in Japan at all.

          The only hard limit is the amount of data you can squeeze through the line.

          Assuming one of those typical 100MBit lines you can grab in metropolitan areas for a pittance, and assuming a more realistic average transfer speed of ~60MBit instead of the full 100, and assuming you keep it at full tilt, that’s a 18,5TB a month over your home connection, for like 50 bucks. Bandwidth really is cheap nowadays. At least for the Japanese.

          Note that that isn’t actually enough to properly serve something that’d suffer as high demand spikes as this, though, you’d still need professional hosting to deal with 300000 people wanting to download the newest chapter, in good quality, at the same time, as soon as it’s out. Your theoretical home line would need mroe than two days of nonstop full-speed uploading to distribute that. This is not something you can base a business on. Things need to be responsive even if that many people grab your stuff at the same time, so, at least, you have to shell out significant cash for a decent host.

        • actualy far less.

          100gb of monthly traffic i have seen for 10$
          but for sake of argument, lets say its 100$

          100gb=100000mb more or less.


          that comes out to about 1 tenth of a cent a mb.

          im guessing that if this was purely online, and with .1 cent a page, you could make up the difference though advertising easily, but like i said, i believe 100gb is closer to 10$ and you cen get great deals on bulk buying.

          more or less at this point in time, bandwidth is NOTHING to worry about, its peak loads that can kill you.

        • anon 01:33
          I agree with you up to the ideal moment there, but would a mangaka actually bother doing that? I cannot imagine an artist being a businessman. Also as far as I have read about mangakas, they are meant to be an introvert, talk less, live alone in their bubble etc..
          Is it really possible to do that?
          Maybe that is how the publishers made money out of their skills from the start.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, publishers are the one that tell you’ meet the deadline or you are out’ in case of online distribution that would mean he is the owner of the ‘publishing company’ so all the money goes to him, in the normal form 99% of the sales money goes to the publisher, so he all the mangakas go online, they would get a extra 99% profit, of course with the profit he would use it to mainain the website and pay the assistants wage. they already pay the assistants so we can assume 1% is already enough to pay the assistants and the website can probably be paid and kept up with lets say 30% so that means he still have a 68% profit, 68% compared to 1% is a big diference

      • Shippoyasha says:

        The problem though, is that it’s not cheap to do it all yourself. You still need to hire help, you still need editors, printing, merchandising, creating stock, marketing. It’s between a rock and a hard place for indie mangaka. It’s sad to hear how the corporate world in Japan is still ridiculously corrupt and the tax-man takes away so much of a small-earnings job.

        • you twit

          here is the way i see it.

          first, for online only, there is getting the infrastructure right. this is the hardest thing, but if it already there…

          second there is bandwidth costs. manga right now in good quality comes to 5-10mb a chapter, with better quality it may make it up to 15mb. and thats assuming 20 pages with 2 color. thats a relatively minuscule number and will probably cost less than 1cent a chapter to serve. making a 9 cent profit margin.

          you still need editors, printing, merchandising, creating stock, marketing
          editors – fuck no
          printing – its online
          merchandising – they come to you, but in manga publishers business, they go to the head, but self published and popular, they will come to you.
          creating stock – its all online, but ill get to this later
          marketing – ok, its online, a website, and it would self promote, lets go as far as 2 cents from a 10cent chapter go to marketing, the website alone, and if you are extremely popular you will be featured in those ads,

          now for printing, and creating stock, this is all online, however, there are printing firms everywhere, that will print manga, and if you bulk that shit, or advertise preorders for a month, you get a damn good idea how much to spend, and ad 5% to the order.

          that way you get everyone who preorders, and you get a small stock for people that didn’t and can gauge the popularity.

          now lets look at it this way.

          manga is 250 a page, 16 pages a chapter and 4 chapters a week. thats 16,000 a month, through traditional routs. and lets say 1million buy the thing its printed in souley for that manga

          lets assume that the place you rent is 2000 a month, and assistants are 500-750 a week. you have 6 assistants, assuming you are big, to break even for a month, you need to have 20000$

          well 7 cents goes to you every chapter. how much do you need to sell to pull a monthly break even?

          285,714 chapters bought a month, and thats 71,428 per chapter sales.

          thats not all to much, and just think of the people that would buy it just because its only 10 cents a chapter. and allot would rebuy it again if you released a physical form.

          now these are just rough numbers, but good manga could defiantly thrive, far more than they are currently, in this online form.

        • It’s true that starting it all up would be difficult, but just think of the financial and creative freedom these mangaka would have afterwards. You don’t have to be a publicly traded company in order to create online manga (under a company name), and have tankobon printed out.