Shogakukan Online Manga DRM Crippled, Pricier Than Paper


Major manga publisher Shogakukan have launched “Shonen Sunday for iPhone,” but cripplingly restrictive DRM, a meagre selection of ancient titles and prices higher than the actual paper volumes are leading many to suspect the scheme is already doomed to fail.

Only four ancient titles are available at launch – Urusei Yatsura, Conan, Ushio to Tora and MAJOR. Volumes 1-5 of each are set to be released at launch with further volumes for each to be added at the rate of 2 a week.

The reader application itself is free, but digital volumes cost ¥450 each (for comparison, a brand new paper copy of volume 1 of Conan costs ¥400).

An iPad version is also said to be under preparation.

The comics bought cannot be backed up or transferred off the iPhone, and needless to say they cannot be shared or resold either. Buyers are however allowed to freely redownload “their” manga should they delete and resinstall the app, or change iPhones, a most generous concession indeed.

Reviewers report the quality of the images to be very poor, with small text barely legible, and complain of the DRM restrictions, price and lack of any new titles.

If this follows the familiar pattern from other digital media, any failure of the platform will be blamed on rampant piracy and used as justification for even harsher DRM, whilst success will be used to underline the importance of draconian DRM.

And of course there is the issue of Apple’s abject refusal to allow any risque content on its platforms – it seems unlikely Apple would even allow an ultra-mainstream title like Shonen Jump, thanks to what is, by manga standards, very mild sexual content.

Shonen Sunday itself is noted for being in a death spiral – circulation has decreased from 2 million a week in 2000 to a mere 770,000 in 2009, possibly the reason the publisher is starting to consider the necessity of change.

Using a DRM laden and heavily censored Apple-only platform with a tiny screen to deliver digital manga priced higher than its ancient paper version, and all this in competition with illicit online distribution – observers could be forgiven for thinking Shogakukan wants the project to fail, so it can justify avoiding any further troubling efforts at innovation.

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    Comment by Anonymous
    02:58 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)


    Comment by Anonymous
    18:31 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Amen to that!

    Avatar of Dirty_Dingus008
    Comment by Dirty_Dingus008
    00:12 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Than it begs to question to why is this company that fricking transparent in its disdain for future technology and trends?

    Are all those publishing companies that calcified and frozen in the decades past that even the HUGE neon shining signs blasting into their be-goggled eyes not big enough for them all to get the point?!

    Maybe they can plead their government to "assist" them like what the chicago thug of America is trying to do for all those DeaD newspapers and TAX more money out of the Japanese to prop them up when they go bankrupt~~~~

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:13 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    The reason these big corporations aren't embracing the new technology is simple - the new technology slowly makes these big corporations into a unnecessary middle-man standing between the artistic creators and the customers as a big money-sucking roadblock.

    They used to be the crucial link between the creators and the customers, and as a result could treat both their creators and customers as the scum of the earth while at the same time filling their pockets as much as legally possible.

    With the internet in place though, their whole reason of existence, providing that link between the customer and creator, is gone. As a creator, why pay a company big money to get published to a large audience, when you can set up a own site for pocketchange? As a customer, why would you want to pay some fat slob at some company his oversized paycheck, when you could just pay the creator directly?

    If they start offering customers what they want, ie. products in a practical, digital format, they will only hasten their demise by teaching their customers to use this new technology.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:39 18/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Other than that people who are not your occult fans ie casual readers are more likely to pay for a site with a more extensive collection?

    00:30 18/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Restrictive DRM is the best way to make people pirate a medium.
    Also the iphone/ipad is the worst possible platform for this type of content distribution partly because Apple is ran by a bunch of prudes.
    It seems they want online sales to fail.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:41 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    It costs money to develop iPhone apps - if only in manpower to some.
    It costs money to license DRM.
    Costs get passed on to the consumer.
    Consumers don't want expensive proprietary inflexible outdated crippled manga. Imagine that!

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:27 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Really sounds like a project intended to fail by design.

    "See? we tried digital distribution and it didn't work out, so lets forget the whole idea for a few more years 'kay."

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:56 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Say what? This was a braindead attempt, at best. Reading manga on an iPhone? iPad, maybe. I'm glad they were trying a bit, but it sounds like they were too busy working on the DRM to realize that the content itself had to be worth protecting. Now they'll probably just say "we tried, so we're not to blame that everyone's pirating". They always do.

    Avatar of Chen-04
    Comment by Chen-04
    22:22 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Innovation will come, if the current publishers accept it or go down isn't important. Just boycott them, so they have to go down. Other will rise and bring innovation with them.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:56 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Gee, sure is nice to see SC articles have no anti-Apple bias or anything, which such bullshit as iOS being "DRM laden" even though nothing except iTunes bought music or video have DRM.

    Not to mention the rave reviews of the comic iPad apps by comic fans.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:33 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    How did they manage to do every possible thing wrong?

    Why would anyone even joke about reading comics on an iPhone screen?

    This is what the god damn iPad is for.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:27 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I have an analog 20" monitor attached to my PC.
    Its resolution is 1600x1200.
    It is barely adequate for reading online manga.


    Comment by Anonymous
    07:15 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I got a pivoted 24" IPS monitor... it's a blast reading on it, prefer it even over paper-version.

    Avatar of CC
    Comment by CC
    04:21 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Get a screen that can tilt 90 degrees (portrait mode) and you'll be closer to something useful.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:29 18/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Those are good suggestions, however I can't afford to buy a new giant monitor. Also it is not only the size that matters, resolution is probably more important to me.

    My eyesight isn't as good as you "young whipper-snappers" (lol).

    If you assume that a printed page is 300 dpi and something like an ordinary Marvel comic is 6"x10", then my monitor would have to be able to display 1800x3000 images.

    So a 4:3 monitor would have to be 4000x3000 and a 16:10 monitor would have to be 4800x3000!

    Obviously the scans would have to have that sort of resolution also.


    Comment by Anonymous
    11:31 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And Shogakukan will see that people aren't buying this shit and assume that there isn't a market for digital and then go about really cracking down on scanlations until it's all gone and then have no excuse for the fact that THEIR BUSINESS MODEL SUCKS.

    Avatar of softbanker
    Comment by softbanker
    21:56 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who reads manga on iPhone? Really?

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:23 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    fags, that's who

    Avatar of arie~
    Comment by arie~
    22:13 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I use the Gomanga app to read manga in class

    so to answer your question... I do~

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:21 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The better question is, who would _pay_ to read manga on an iPhone?

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:42 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    don't you 'pay' for everything else on iphone?

    Avatar of Hyra911
    Comment by Hyra911
    00:23 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anything to stay away from the boring class for a while, just pray that the teacher never call your name.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:59 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Set it to horizontal and scroll a lot.

    But yeah, original iPhone screen is utter shit. 270 res is utter fail.

    iPhone4, on the other hand, will be best manga/book reader in world. (after someone jailbreaks it, so we can use the damn thing properly).

    Avatar of Riiku
    Comment by Riiku
    18:26 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    anon 04:59

    not better than IPad

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:43 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    reading on anything smaller than 7" is just a pain in the ass. all that zooming is just hella inconvenient

    Avatar of Shanyy
    Comment by Shanyy
    03:23 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "Fail" is a quite good descripton of this.

    Avatar of Shanyy
    Comment by Shanyy
    03:33 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Quality. On a 0,5 Mpixel screen you can't have it. Therefore it worths nothing. Nuff' said.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:32 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I read manga on my HD2

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:52 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    you better not read H while reading in class or you will end up fapping.

    Avatar of Riiku
    Comment by Riiku
    18:29 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    They want money? Then hire the damn scanlators, optimize your DRM for PC and maybe consoles too, and remove the fucking censorship! Put a 18+ rating or somthing, that wouldnt stop kids from reading it anyway.

    Results? PROFIT. And fuck what moralist says. There's no outright pornography in mainstream manga anyway.


    Comment by Anonymous
    01:06 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    What we really need is a manga about iphones that reads about people through manga, so that I can read that on my iphone.

    Avatar of BlaqCat
    Comment by BlaqCat
    03:38 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can't talk shit about this. I've read manga on my PSP before...>_>

    Avatar of EyE
    Comment by EyE
    08:58 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    yup, me too. only ichigo 100% tho.

    Avatar of Myballz
    Comment by Myballz
    00:18 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    People do read Comic Book's on Iphone you be surpise already PSP is offers that as well.But at a much better quality then Japanese can do.

    Avatar of DHYohko
    Comment by DHYohko
    21:59 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    they need to start releasing digital manga like fansub groups do, if they don't the'll eventually die. also mangaka should start making there manga digital like many are doing for there doujinshi on the internet, quality is maintained in the digital format and distribution can reach overseas.

    Avatar of Yoshii-kun
    Comment by Yoshii-kun
    22:27 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    That sound alot like going back to doujin status. And maybe they should.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:09 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    they should do something like steam

    Avatar of msoltyspl
    Comment by msoltyspl
    15:56 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Can corporate execs get any dumber ? Seriously ...

    iWhatever ?
    DRM ?
    price for digital version > price for paper one ?
    crappy quality ?

    How fucking dumb is that .... I think its stupidity on equal level with [overinterpretating of] JPC's article #175. Hey, wait ....

    Is it that hard to provide decent scans without any retarded DRM on the publisher's website (using english language and compatible with browsers other than IE), with accompanying paypal/bank info ?

    00:38 18/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    90% of iphone apps including are things someone can whip up in a weekend.
    So the development cost would be squat even if they used American programmers.
    As for licensing DRM yes this can be expensive because most companies that develop it such as macro-vision are greedy scum.
    But the iphone's built in DRM costs next to nothing to use though it's simple and easy to break.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:51 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    they should put cheap download-able manga on the 3DS

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:02 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So Raw-Paradise was taken down for this shit?!

    Avatar of Jorori
    Comment by Jorori
    00:50 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Reading manga on a LCD screen? A very little one on iPhone's case? And more expensive than the real thing? Come on...

    Avatar of Kyorisu
    Comment by Kyorisu
    01:21 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    LCDs are fine stop basing your screen reading experience on crappy TN panels.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:44 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'd say the ancient titles, high prices, and Apple's refusal to host more mature content are the main problems. I don't really see DRM as a problem.

    Avatar of onitake
    Comment by onitake
    00:19 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    let's hope projects like openmanga will be a success. it could finally lead to publishers realising they're doing it all wrong...

    Avatar of Sychone
    Comment by Sychone
    05:23 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    ...Why is this comment (above) downrated? Is Openmanga bad for some reason? If it is, care to explain why?

    Downrating normal comments without a proper reason...

    Avatar of Shizu's Waki Obsessor: MaidNiac
    22:58 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    No thanks, I prefer my manga (unless it's the forbidden stuffs) in a form of 3D papers.

    Avatar of xHadriel
    Comment by xHadriel
    00:31 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The idea is innovative and interesting, but still, 5 ancient manga? What were they thinking?

    This is like releasing the PS4 with Pacman as its only game.

    Avatar of PrinceHeir
    Comment by PrinceHeir
    03:46 17/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Physical Books FTW :D though i also prefer reading it on a computer :)

    Avatar of Sukunai
    Comment by Sukunai
    23:53 16/06/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This will fail at the speed of light.

    Come on, people are already reading manga on much better devices and for free. If they expect this to fly, they better start thinking with their brains real big time.

    I can currently read manga on a Nintendo DS if I really feel like it.

    And to be expecting to charge MORE than print? get real.

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