Manga Readers’ Manifesto

September 9th, 2011

We, the manga and comic reading fans of the world hereby state our manifesto to comic/manga publishers and distributors:

When we pay for a book, we are not paying for the right to read it. We are paying for the right to read it as many times and anywhere we want. Therefore, if we buy the hard copy of your book, we should get access to the digital version for free. We have already paid you for the right to read it anywhere and as many times as we want, there is absolutely no reason to consider the digital content a separate copy in that case.

We understand that the current technology causes gerrymandering for various operating systems, however, it is not sensible or possible for us to buy new hardware just to read your books, nor is it sensible for you to have to have multiple versions of one work. Make your reading technology browser-based, so it is accessible regardless of OS.

We desire simultaneous release of digital and print, not, as you suspect, to cannibalize your profits, but to maximize them. The faster an issue comes out and in the most formats as possible, the more people who can and will be convinced to buy.

We desire the utter destruction of region-locking. It makes no sense, encourages piracy and causes frustration and bitterness among fans world-wide (including Japan.) This is a relic of an older world that needs to be set aside without second thought or accommodation.

We understand pricing is complicated and the digital distribution platforms (iPad, Kindle, atc.) enforce set pricing  to some extent, but do not price a digital copy the same as a hard copy. You don’t have the same overhead and we know it. We *do* support the artists, production team, editors, etc, so just give us a reasonable price so everyone gets a fair wage for their work.

This is the Manga Readers’ Manifesto, dated September 9, 2011.

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16 Responses

  1. JRB says:

    In general, I agree, but:

    “Make your reading technology browser-based, so it is accessible regardless of OS.”

    I’m gonna charge right in there and say no to that. I much prefer downloadable files (like Kindle books, just for an example – which, coincidentally, do not require an actual Kindle). I want to read manga when I don’t have an active internet connection (like, say, on the bus, which is where I consume at least half of all my reading material). Inter-OS operability, yes. Browser reader, I’d prefer not.

  2. Felix says:

    Yes. 1000 times yes. This is exactly what I was waiting for someone to write.

    I was wondering, are you going to directly send this to anyone? Will you have someway for fans to sign their name to it?

    The one thing I worry about is if digital versions cost less, would the original author end up being paid less per copy sold? For creators I love, I would not mind paying more if I knew they were actually getting more of my money.

  3. @JRB Kindle books may not require a Kindle, but they require a phone/device that can download a Kindle app, thus *still* requiring people to buy new hardware. I understand you want to “own” the book and of course I support that I do not support making a platform that not everyone, everywhere can read. I’m not spending hundreds of dollars just to be able to read one company’s comics, then have to get a different app for another and a different, paid subscription for another….

    It happens that I am strongly opposed to giving Apple any money, as they have made it abundantly clear that they are comfortable deciding what content people can and cannot read. I do not support this position and the best way I have of continuing my protest against that, and against Steve Jobs’ stated position of protecting the world from porn, is to give Apple not a cent of my money until they back the fuck off and let me read whatever I want. Companies striving to hit that iOS market will always, miss me. It’s long past time to think bigger than one OS or another.

  4. Matt Blind says:

    re: browser based ebooks, technology.

    Please note you do not have to be connected to the internet to read a web page, only to initially download one.

    For example, while looking at this web page in a browser, hit [ctrl-s] on your keyboard. In my browser, that pulls up the “save as” dialog. YMMV.

    There are ways to serve up web pages that can’t be downloaded, but that would be counter to the “read anytime, anywhere” expectation that leads this manifesto.

  5. JRB says:

    “Kindle books may not require a Kindle, but they require a phone/device that can download a Kindle app, thus *still* requiring people to buy new hardware.”

    Actually, Kindle apps are available for Windows PCs and Mac OSX, as well as for Android and various non-Apple handheld devices (full list here), so if you have the hardware to read in a browser you probably have the hardware to read a Kindle book. I don’t own a Kindle or an iAnything and have read all my Kindle manga on a Mac desktop.

    Note that I’m not specifically wedded to Kindle, just that so far it’s the best current option in the downloadable e-manga field. Nook also offers desktop-compatible apps (although I haven’t tried them out because so far everything I’d be interested in reading on Nook is also on Kindle), and I’ve read a few manga in Adobe’s olde-Schoole Digital Editions format (but they all look terrible because it apparently can’t handle hi-res images).

  6. Erica,

    I like it. It’s a well-stated position. It’s going to be a little difficult in present circumstances to give away a digital copy with a printed copy considering that the Japanese demand DRM and at present time the on-line services (yada yada yada)– Anyway, that’s a technical problem that will (or should) be fixed in the future.

    But the interesting thing is that Amazon has already built a web-based viewer app that lets you read your downloaded books on your browser whether you’re connected to the Internet or not. I hope they publish it at some point in the future… Still, Amazon has other draconian restrictions that make it hard to publish manga with them.

    Also, I have heard that at least one large Japanese publisher has abandoned the region-based licensing for language-based licensing. I hope that becomes a trend.

    So with some luck and a few successful models doing exactly what you’re suggesting, and most of your manifesto may be able to come true.

  7. Maverynthia says:

    I agree with everything MINUS the browser software. For one I don’t want to read my manga in a browser all the time, for two that requires an always on internet connection. Even cell phones and tablets might not have any kind of connection.

    Keep it as an option? Yes definitely, but not and end all be all ultimatum.

  8. LGlass says:

    This is exactly how I’ve felt for sometime now. You hit it right on the spot.

  9. Ez3 says:

    A lot of DVD/BluRays include the digital version of the movie, why not do the same with books?

  10. Truth be told, I would much rather have a physical copy than a digital one. I’ve read comics online, and it feels very different than when I read a physical comic. Over all, I agree with what was said.

  11. BMeph says:

    I may nitpick with some of the fine details of this Manifesto, but in general I say “yes-yes-Yes!”

    First, stake the claim on the beachhead, then make concessions to reality based on circumstances.

    Now, where are the “I support the MRM” banners? I want one!

  12. @Erica Friedman – I agree with JRB that I’d rather be able to download a file than read something on a browser. The only reason you need a Kindle app to read Kindle books is because of DRM – what I would really like, in a perfect world, is downloadable manga that is not DRM-protected. Every single e-book I buy, and I have bought many, is not DRM-protected. It’s one of my requirements for an e-book, since it’s closer to actually owning the book than buying a DRM-protected file is. As long as I have a device that can read EPUB files, I can read my e-books. Heck, if I buy a device in the future that can’t read EPUB, the lack of DRM on my e-books means I can turn them into whatever file I need (although I might need to edit the results a little, so something that can read EPUB is still preferrable).

    Having to deal with browser-based e-books through the library I work at, I cringe at the idea of reading browser-based manga.

  13. Atarun says:

    “We desire the utter destruction of region-locking. It makes no sense, encourages piracy and causes frustration and bitterness among fans world-wide (including Japan.) This is a relic of an older world that needs to be set aside without second thought or accommodation.”

    I could elaborate for hours on how right that statement is and how it makes me feel, but I’ll just stick to the obvious:

    Thank you.

  14. tcp says:

    >JRB
    >A Library Girl

    >DRM-free downloadable files over browser readers

    This, a thousand times this. I am so extremely disappointed over JManga. What kind of dystopian future is the world of creative content in danger of?

  15. BruceMcF says:

    Perhaps for clarity,

    “Make your reading technology accessible regardless of OS, by making it browser-compatible.”

    If multiple people here are assuming that browser-based means stored online, its likely a false assumption that others will share.

    @JRB, your free Kindle reader link makes the point: it consists of iPhone, Windows PC, Mac, Blackberry, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7, which is to say, Apple, Windows, Android and RIM.

    If its OS-neutral, then is someone works out a way to make a reader app for Samsung’s Bada, it can be made available, without having to wait for Amazon to decide whether it makes sense to target that market. And of course it would be directly readable on Linux in general, including the “orphaned” webOS system that didn’t make the Amazon cut but which has a webkit based browser.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I’m a manga reader because I’m a reader – manga, other comics, non-graphic novel fiction, non-fiction, there’s good stuff in all those categories and I enjoy reading it all. :D

    I’m also a reader who’s had better experiences with ebooks in .pdf and .epub format. Once I have one of those files I can read it even offline and even at my desktop. Using a program like Adobe Acrobat or the open-source Sumatra, I can “turn the page” with one touch of a keyboard key (smoother than using any browser interface). :) I can also search for keywords and strings of text in the book. :)

    The OverDrive system ( http://www.overdrive.com/ and http://search.overdrive.com/classic/ ) that my local library uses to lend ebooks also carries a small amount of manga and even sells titles to individuals as well as library networks. Even after OverDrive stops selling a title (like Lucky Star by Shiomi Kouhara), even the library that bought a copy can still lend it. What do the rest of you think about OverDrive?

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