Sorry to start the week off with such heavy-duty overthinking, but something’s on my mind and I want to get it down before I lose it.
Ever since ALC announced that we’re partnering with JManga to get some Yuri titles out in English, I keep seeing the same (so *much* the same, that I have to think it’s one or two people over and over) accusations against me and the folks at ALC. A handful of people angry that they can’t get free scanlations of a title that is now legitimately available for sale isn’t something I need to address, really. I know that. But I wanted to have a response to point to in case this comes up again in the future.
Here are the key points of these repeated accusations, as I understand them:
Making fans pay for Yuri is “selling out”
Translating and editing for money is “selling out”
I, personally, am rolling in your $ as a result of this deal
Because fandom at large is used to Yuri being a underserved audience, they are also used to turning almost exclusively to scanlations. As a result, a rather large portion of Yuri fandom expects that Yuri remain free forever and that by wanting people to pay for it, Yuri is being betrayed.
In reality, it’s the other way around. I and many other people love Yuri so very much, that our goal is to bring more of it over in a way that provides jobs and livelihood to more people, so it can sustain itself as a genre. To be blunt – if a person relies on scanlations when a legitimate version is available to them, then they are the one selling out Yuri. It’s really quite simple. Your purchase of an item goes to pay for the work that has already been done by compensating the company that paid for it, supports the current work and provides royalties to the creator. Ideally, it also creates money for investment into new projects in the form of profit.
In effect, these fans say that, if Yuri were to ever become a financially viable genre, it can only ever have done so by “selling out.” Just as any band or artist that becomes successful must, by the nature of entertainment, have “sold out.”
There’s something terribly sad to me, that some of the people who read Yuri find it impossible to cough up a few $ to support it. JManga is charging $5/volume of manga for most of what they are selling. It’s not really asking a lot for you to pay $5, is it? If it is, then I’m sorry, because when you don’t have the money, then it is hard, but for some fans, I think entitlement has attained the point that homophobia has attained in the anti-gay movement…it’s become so deeply ingrained and so inflexible a position that the only thing left to do is keep defending the position with increasing desperation. If someone out there is that unreasonably angry at being charged $5 for a few hours worth of entertainment, then I really only feel sympathy for them. It’s hard to justify that kind of position to someone who isn’t already a believer. In that sense, I guess the forums where I’m seeing this anger have become the echo chamber of this refrain.
In effect, these “fans” have decided that Yuri being financially successful is a crime against fans of Yuri and against Yuri itself.
I will not tell you what our contract with JManga says, even if I could. I can tell you this – most of the money goes to the translator on a project. I wonder, truly, how much some of these people think we make from translating and editing a book? Whatever that amount is that those people think, I’d like half of it. ^_^; If I offered them the ability to read a book for free, would these people still find something to be angry about? I honestly believe they would. For some fans, being dissatisfied seems to be the real entertainment value. (Don’t believe me? Read a few forum threads about how *angry* these people are at various scanlation circles for not being fast enough or for stopping work on a series that is now for sale, or for some other thing.)
I know that this post is unlikely to change any minds out there. People who are convinced that their right to free scanlations is inviolable are not going to suddenly stop and think, “What am I saying? Of COURSE the people who work on this stuff have a right to make a living!” Nonetheless, on the off chance that one person does think that, I’m saying this plainly: The people who work on Yuri have a right to make a living doing so. “Selling” Yuri is not “selling out” at all. There is nothing at all immoral in a person getting paid to draw, write, translate, edit, letter, proofread or sell Yuri to an audience willing to buy it.
Yuri is not yet sustaining itself in the west. Not in the way BL or shounen is. Shoujo and josei are largely in a similar bind – everyone wants it, but when it’s made available just not enough people actually pay for it. I know that the Okazu/Yuricon audience is the exception – I know you pay for what you want, I know you “support” Yuri in every way possible.
On behalf of the creators, translators, editors, letterers, publishers, printers, marketers, graphic designers and project managers in the industry, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. When the Yuri audience as a whole understands that what you do and what we do is not a crime against the genre, when “selling” is not synonymous with “selling out,” then – and only then – will Yuri be successful. I await that day with anticipation. ^_^