“Publishers Fear Mangaka, Not Pirates”


Shonen Jump’s ultimatum to readers to stop uploading its manga online or face legal consequences is in response to publishers’ deeply held fears about a loss of control over their mangaka and a collapse in magazine sales, say commentators.

Illicit online distribution is claimed to have a disastrous effect on sales, but one of the most popularly pirated titles, One Piece, recently set a national sales record with is 57th volume, selling 3,000,000 copies in its first edition alone. In total it is said to have sold 185,000,000 copies. Sales of magazines meanwhile have steadily declined.

The overseas popularity of titles like Naruto, Haruhi, and Lucky Star is also said to have to have been based largely on illicit online distribution – certainly Kadokawa and company never marketed them at all overseas.

Some consider the real reason for Shueisha’s anger at illegal scans to be quite different to what the publisher would have fans believe – one journalist claims that the real fear of publishers is actually digital distribution as a whole, and the disruption it threatens to the manga industry’s traditional control over mangaka.

He points out that the main earner for mangaka is not serialised magazine sales but sales of the compiled volumes, or tankobon, much as it is sales of the DVD over TV broadcasts in the world of anime.

With illegal uploads sales are indeed impacted, so some mangaka have responded by simply publishing the serialisation on their homepage and relying on tankobon sales – a growing proportion are said to not to care if the serialisation takes place online, as ultimately it serves only as an advertisement for the tankobon.

“So the publishers are increasingly having trouble tying mangaka to their magazines. For example, were an Internet company come along and buy up the manuscripts, and then publish them online as a ‘web magazine,’ it’s possible the entire structure of the manga industry would be changed.”

Publishers, especially Japan’s giant publishing houses, deeply fear disruptions to their established way of doing things, but with new technology change is inevitable.

Online distribution, far from “wounding” mangaka as Shueisha claims, may actually free them from the control of traditional publishers – in the process destroying paper sales, which may be what publishers fear the most.

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    Avatar of Imyou
    Comment by Imyou
    04:37 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Over a decade ago, I read online manga published in Japan, also in English, in "Cyber Magazine Hanamaru." I love the old giants - Shogakukan, Kodansha, Kadokawa, etc, but if they can't get with it, they'll fall by the wayside.

    I think the way is something like modern iTunes - just sell us the manga, no special reader, no DRM, high quality, and totally redistributable - but easy to buy. Say, for my own preferences, maybe PNGs with a 1000 pixel page width? JPEGs are fine if they don't look like crap. None of this online-only manga reader crap that you can't load onto a generic eBook reader. If they did that, I'd probably even subscribe to the Japanese mags again. (I used to have a Shounen Ace subscription... wow. One year will fill a shelf, haha.)

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:35 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    so they are cutting out the middle man and now he's pissed since hes getting no money. lol

    Avatar of Kinny Riddle
    Comment by Kinny Riddle
    02:33 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's about time Shueisha wake up and smell the coffee.

    Kadokawa realized the winds of change with even its president deciding going digital was not a bad thing after all.


    You can blame them for the Endless Eight Haruhi trolling, but you gotta applaud them for giving this new medium a chance via their release of Haruhi-chan episodes via YouTube.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:28 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Koio Minato, author of IO, got disgusted with his publishers and quit drawing.

    Alto will never be finished and it seemed like a good slice-of-life/sci-fi 1910-era story.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:25 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I buy the ones i love but since im tight on cash right now Im only buying one piece for 2 reasons.

    They accelerated the translations in north america and am currently owning volumes 1-43. now for may and june I will be expecting 10 more at a cost of 10 dollars with discounts and specialty stores etc. thats 100 on just one series. Also volume 54 is coming out in july add another 10

    I do not have a job right now... and water7/cp9 arc is epic.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:29 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    If it werent for these "illegal" scanlations I wouldnt even know how good one piece is since 4kids kinda fucked up the series in north america.

    either way you wont be getting business from 1 lack of publicity or 2 people who wont buy since it is free online.

    But if it is the second option than their is a chance for people to import said series or decide to buy them from a bookstore... since they become loyal fans like me.

    Im still waiting on bitter virgin to be translated its only 4 volumes but i would buy them

    Avatar of chila
    Comment by chila
    03:48 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    scanlations are not at issue here. the raws are.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:01 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who needs a publishing company when you have a writer, an artist, and a guy to make/run the website?

    Well, I guess you'd still need marketing/advertising guys. But I can see why this would scare the crap out of publishers.

    Newspaper companies are in trouble too, at least here in the US. And I can imagine that in the not too distant future digital distribution will overtake physical distribution for novels.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:35 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't buy crap, I get it all from the internet and I've never spent a dollar on anything anime/manga related. And I'm willing to bet there's a lot of people just like me if we're all going to be honest here.

    Avatar of chila
    Comment by chila
    00:34 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    yes. and that's what they call leeches.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:53 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is why I don't care if someone suffers a bit for my weekly Naruto. At the end of the day, it's not the mangaka who suffers.

    Avatar of kitetsu
    Comment by kitetsu
    23:30 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wow I thought hell froze when I thought that the whole fear thing was played backwards... And then I come to the revelation that mangaka are actually using their common sense to see piracy as a venue of (risky) advertisement.

    Once again, the publisher's fears are completely "normal" of those backwards folks. They want their $$$.

    Avatar of ALAKTORN
    Comment by ALAKTORN
    23:38 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "and Lucky Star is also said to have to have"

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:05 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well it's actually good to free the mangaka from the industry, everyone knows how awful their salaray is

    Avatar of chila
    Comment by chila
    00:34 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    mangakas always have a choice.. no one ever forces them to sign with a major publisher

    the ones who are good enough do so because they know they will make more being in a magazine than they ever can if they self-publish.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:44 15/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    offer legal e-book-like DRM-free translated stuff for the rest of the world (and the e-version for your own) and you'll see money flowing in. I'm one that would pay for such things =)

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:23 10/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    What they don't get is, the popularity of their series will crumble down greatly. Why? In many countries, these magazines are not available. If it weren't for these sites and scanalators that they want to shut down, nobody will know about Naruto, Bleach, or One Piece or others.

    The lust of money has make them blind. They don't get how much appreciation and fame they are getting from these sites. SO what they couldn't milk some extra from every fan. I think they do get quite a lot. Yet they want some extra money.

    Mark my words, the popularity and fame chart of their work will go down considerably. Well, they do deserve it. But I guess greed has no limit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:06 28/05/2010 # ! Neutral (0)


    Comment by Anonymous
    12:16 30/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    There is a problem here in North America, US , canada.
    the comic are hard to find!
    and its expensive.

    in japan, kids just need to walk to nearest store.
    while here kids need to go as far as downtown mall. not a good idea.

    also, good distribution of manga magazine,
    in japan people dont read tankoubon all the time!
    most read disposeable cheap but thick comic magazine,...

    ppl pay because of good service too.

    let manga anime alone, here almost north american cartoon and comic seems already long dead, replaced with cheap taste cartoon and webcomics -_- ....

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:25 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    90% of scans put up are in the hopes that someone will translate the manga into English or whatever language the person who upload it speaks. Simply put, if Shonen Jump wants to avoid piracy, it should offer their manga in other languages before it hits other countries. And I say this because I'm a Jojo's Bizarre Adventure fan and I'd rather read about how Vanilla Ice is terrorizing the gang instead of how Iced is terrorizing the gang.

    Avatar of darknetwork
    Comment by darknetwork
    22:55 20/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    nah, i like reading reading pirated rather than buying a tankoubon or magazine. i'm a bad guy

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:05 27/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    What about a sort of "MangaFox"-esque website that would have all manga that any artist chooses to post, with ads integrated into webpage as you read, and also a link to the tankoubon version.

    Just an idea, dunno.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:38 07/02/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hurrah, that's what I was looking for, what a stuff! existing here at this blog, thanks admin of this web site.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:00 22/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    fucking brilliant so thats the real reason god bless sankaku complex I wouldnt of even thought about this, makes complete sense haha INTERNET INTERNET INTERNET.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:33 23/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Can someone clear something for me? We are using technology effectively, and the 'big' guys are trying to suppress us. We need to revolt!

    Avatar of Klingengeist
    Comment by Klingengeist
    09:15 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Also digital hentai mangas are easier to hide so your girlfriend/wife/parents wont find them as easily as printed ones... :P

    PS: Save the Rainforest!

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:39 26/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't think that artists will ever truly say fuck off to publishing houses. If it's not a magazine publishing house, it'll be an online one. Either way, they need their works displayed in a public space for it to be recognized. Otherwise, it'd never get noticed no matter how good it is simply due to the fact that the market is pretty much what I'd consider saturated.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:08 26/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sounds like *every other industry* that feels threatened by piracy..

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:31 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    just according to keikaku

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:05 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    TL note: keikaku means plan.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:23 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why don't the big manga publishers just set up online services? If they had a subscription at their normal rate they would make tons of money because they would no longer have the cost of printing.

    Avatar of denn
    Comment by denn
    13:53 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Because setting up a network (subscription, circulation) of sales takes time and money, so publishers would naturally be loath to just abandon their traditional networks for some new untested method of sales (which may require further investment).

    It's kinda like how game developers spin out dreary sequels every 2 years or so by capitalizing on the fanbase built by the first title. If it makes money, don't fix/change it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:52 25/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, it will probably cost them like 1000$, which may or may not generate them 100.000$ per months..
    Remember NarutoFan website?
    Wish I could just BUY the digital distribution rights..

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:31 26/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Tazmo can go DIAF.

    Avatar of chila
    Comment by chila
    17:40 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    the cost of printing is nothing compared to lost ad revenue and the cost of setting such an online system up.

    Avatar of sanimej2
    Comment by sanimej2
    13:22 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    OH! I get it now!

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:18 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    u ant the onlyone

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:48 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They make a good point. I download a lot of manga, but I almost always end up buying tankoban when they are published.

    Avatar of Chen-04
    Comment by Chen-04
    14:11 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Viva la verita!

    On a sidenote, does anybody know where to buy more than two books of Unbalance X Unbalance or books of Aflame Inferno? I really want to buy those :(

    (English versions)

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:32 26/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Good luck with that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:06 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    see? i told those scan website not supposed to scan the manga's in WSJ

    this time, WSJ wont sell the manga books around the world for real.

    now we ended up losing interesnt.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:17 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hmmm, I knew online distribution doesn't hurt the mangaka ^_^

    Avatar of Artefact
    Comment by Artefact

    It does if tankobon sales are adversely affected and there is no alternative means of publication available.

    Avatar of Barbarian of Gor
    Comment by Barbarian of Gor
    13:14 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think that's the point behind the ENTIRE "Crackdown on piracy" of the entire entertainment industry.

    They don't fear so much the "Loss" from "piracy"...
    They fear "Loss of Control". That a writer will just publish and sell online, and not line up to them begging to get published and get some of the profits. That a musician will sell online, and get very popular even if they weren't in the "Golf Game discussion on who'd be the next big thing"...

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:01 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    mangakas sign with publishers when possible because it will boost their sales more than going solo ever would.

    besides, many mangakas are not represented by publishers but have you heard of many of them?

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:52 11/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Suddenly, the internet happened.

    And then publishers weren't a requirement for large-audience advertising.

    And then they shat themselves and started, well, pulling bullshit like this.


    Comment by Anonymous
    17:55 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not having heard about them might have something to do with their language they publish in. Ideally, a new version of publishers could have more of an online catalogue with samples, preferably international but Japanese and English... You'd buy cheap electronic versions of the manga (with different language versions perhaps?) and be able to buy the collections/tankubon when they came out.

    But this would kill of publishers' main source of revenue unless they were tied to the ones printing the collected volumes. So yeah...

    Avatar of Lilith
    Comment by Lilith
    12:28 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fansubs are not pirates since you're not stealing anything, they never "invested" so they're not wasting any money. If they are being distributed online INSIDE japan, now that's pirating.

    Anyways, I'd gladly pay for a national release of an Anime, except those don't exist and I'd never pay more than a 100$ to import a single DVD worth of episodes.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:19 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    and the imported DVDs don't have subs.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:08 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Stop bullshitting yourself and face the facts like the rest of us. We're stealing anime and we accept that. Otherwise we couldn't see Azunyan.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:35 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's hard to see how watching something available for free on Television is stealing.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:58 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    You pay for the cable, and watch the ads when you watch something on T.V. As such, it isn't 'free' per se. The channel on which the show is aired gets money via the companies which pay to show commercials. The companies pay to show commercials because you, the viewer, watch said commercials. You don't watch the commercials, companies don't want to pay for them, broadcaster doesn't get profit, etc etc

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:04 22/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    In my country per law its free to save shows and anything on tv for your own or your family, close friends use. And the tv channels profits are usually public stat. here, and i can tell you i wont cry for them...

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:20 24/04/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's because you're an idiot.

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