More Miscellaneous Musing On Digital Manga

January 20th, 2013

“When there are standard formats, more scalable systems, more ubiquity, we’ll see more adoption.”

Oh my goodness, what utter douchebag said THAT?

Ah, erm, yeah, it was me. ^_^;; And I wasn’t kidding, although I was being ironic. But let me begin from the beginning.

This past Thursday, JManga launched what I consider to be one of the best Yuri licenses they have, Ameiro Kouchakan Kandan by Fujieda Miyabi.

I posted this on my personal timeline on Facebook and someone I like and respect brought up many of the same issues I’ve heard from others in regards to digital manga; specifically “ownership” vs. “possession” and format standards.

In addition, another party involved themselves in the conversation, taking the part of “Perpetually Angry Fan”. I wanted to re-state some of my points here for future reference (and address the issues around being a P.A.F. I know not all of you are perpetually angry, probably not even most of you. Okazu readers are some of the sanest, most reasoned people on the Internet – something for which I am forever thankful. But if you are – or you know people who are – perpetually dissatisfied and angry about not getting what you “really want” or because you can’t “have nice things” I hope you’ll read it with an open mind.)

So this post is not about anything…it is quite literally miscellaneous musings on issues surround the transition to digital. Change management is complicated, especially when we’re managing someone else’s change.

Here’s the ideal world we all dream of – media comes out in globally accessible open standards, with multiple languages and flexible formatting. So I buy a print book, get it also as an open standard e-book which can be read on any device anywhere in the world (and, ideally in any language I might want.)

Reality looks like this – Japanese companies manage print and digital licenses separately, so one has no relationship at all to the other. Most licenses are by country, so America and the UK have to have separate licensing companies, with separate agreements.

Things are changing, but probably not towards our ideal world, just towards a new reality.

Point One: The concept of “ownership” is being detached from that of “possession.”
And it’s freaking us out.

For those of us who started watching anime in the late 80s, early 90s, the only way to watch anime was to own it. We would buy a VHS tape and watch it. That was the only way we could watch it. No anime was on TV. There was no Internet, no DVDs/BDs, no streaming, no video files.

If we wanted to read a comic book, the only way to read a comic book was to own it

The point is, if you are not under 12, you have been trained to associate *consuming* media with owning a physical copy. You may not even realize to what extent this behavior has imprinted itself upon you. We like books because we are used to books. We like scanlations and fansubs because they give us a file which we hoard on media storage

And yet, this horse has already left the gate. People “purchase” books on Kindle by the millions. They listen to music on Pandora. They stream movies on Netflix. People who do these things are not angry about not owning a copy. They are paying to enjoy the content on that platform. You’ve been renting movies for decades. You don’t own the movie, you don’t get to keep the movie…and when the local Blockbuster closed, it took that movie with it.

This issue, I’m sorry to say, is over. Books are around as long as my generation is around. When I pass away, books will already have been passe’ for decades. It’s not a bad thing, really. I’m watching Airbender: Legend of Korra on Amazon Instant and I’m very pleased with it. I really don’t need to have the DVDs. I just want to watch the show when I have time to watch the show. I am  pleased when I can log into Funimation and watch anime without having to buy it first, just to watch itIt would be nice if my selection wasn’t format/company specific, but that is out of my control.

Point Two: Things change.
And it’s freaking us right out.

Dear Perpetually Angry Fan, I understand that you feel disappointed because:

Tokyopop went out of business, and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

CPM went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

CMX went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

ADV went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

Go Comi! went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

Infinity Studios went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

And, for good measure, DC or Marvel cancelled the comic you like with the artists you liked.

None of this actually gives you any imprimatur to be angry or feel betrayed. Change happens. Businesses have life cycles and absolutely none of that has anything at all to do with you. Companies are not “betraying” you when they change their business model or if a series you like is not selling well enough to pay for itself. Can you imagine, for a moment, having a friend who took it personally that McDonald’s cancelled the McRib sandwich? That seems kind of extreme, right? It would seem very odd to me if a person ranted that they were NEVER going to McDonald’s AGAIN because they cancelled the sandwich. (I’m not saying people don’t do this, but it does seem an extreme over-reaction to, you know, a sandwich.) Fiction has characters we begin to identify with, see as friends. So of course when those friends are no longer in our lives, we’re sad.

Feel disappointed – go ahead. I was very disappointed when the Aria manga was cancelled the first time by ADV and disappointed again the second time when it was cancelled by Tokyopop. (Then I finished it in Japanese and realized I didn’t like the end anyway.^_^;;) Feeling disappointed is absolutely reasonable. Feeling betrayed is a little less reasonable. To betray you, there had to be at least a social contract – betrayal is an act of intention. You don’t guarantee that you’ll buy a book when it’s published…there is no social contract between you and the publisher. They are not going out of business to spite you. Be unhappy, be disappointed. Don’t be bitter and perpetually  angry. The thing about tantrums is not that they are only for children – it’s that they indicate the person having one is a child. If you’re blaming companies for going out of business and forcing you to read scans, that is a tantrum. No one forces you to consume any kind of entertainment in any format. It is not Stu Levy’s fault that you read scans. ^_^

Let me stop and try to explain where I’m going with this analogy.  If you read this blog and you talk to the computer screen every day, I will never hear it. You talking to your screen is not a social contract with me. I have no idea you are there, because, from my perspective, you are not. If you’re angry that I liked something you didn’t or did not like something you did, you were not betrayed by me.

If tomorrow I were to announce that I was done and will no longer be writing Okazu, it would be a really super-self-absorbed leap for you to think that I had betrayed you. My decision, when that times comes, will not be about you, it will be about me. Understand?

My point is that you have never once been betrayed by a manga or anime company. Not. Once. They have made decisions you don’t like, yes. That is not a betrayal. It’s business. So, Perpetually Angry Fan, your righteous burning anger that companies are screwing you by not fulfilling their part of the social contract you have never committed to is pretty meaningless. I have had otherwise sane people tell me quite honestly that they can “never trust the manga/anime/comic companies, since they’ve been screwed so many times.” Fans have never been “screwed,” (again, this implies intention) they have been disappointed. And the manga companies don’t want or need “trust,” they need people to buy books. Translation is an art, not a science. Being critical about translation choices is the least clever thing you can be on the Internet. It is not a betrayal if a choice made is not the choice you would make if you were the boss.

Please, if you are perpetually angry or dissatisfied, please stop being so negative all the time. It’s not helping. It’s not righteous, it’s not meaningful. The only thing it does is alienate the companies that are, actually, trying to help you. Take a second to think about how rough it is to be the person who realizes that their life’s dream is disintegrating, they have thousands of dollars in debt and they have to lay off dozens of people they like? Please be more vocally appreciative for the options you do have right now, for entertainment you like right now.  Thank you very much.

Point Three: A Quick Guide to the Points System on JManga.
Which is not as confusing as it seems.

The point system is to make it possible for everyone globally to pay a fair price. 500 points equals 500 cents, 500 yen, 500 pence, 500 euro cents. So everyone around the world is paying a fair, very reasonable price for digital manga. If you bought Ameiro Kouchukan Kandan in print it would cost 900 yen. Even at an unrealistic 1 cent=1 yen exchange rate that would be $9.00 In reality it would cost $9.98 plus shipping (at time of printing. it was actually a little more when I first wrote this.) On JManga you get it for $5 or £5 or whatever the standard is where you are.) JManga pays the creators, the publisher, the translator, editors and letterers, so I gladly give my money to support these people.

Last night on Twitter someone from Japan asked me if Ichijinsha was showing flexibility by charging half price on Ameiro and I said yes. That they are allowing a digital license at all is pretty great, that they are comprehending the perception that digital ought to be a lower price, since we are not paying for physical materials (although we are still paying for work like translation, editing and lettering) – all of this shows some real flexibility on Ichijinsha’s part. I’m pleased when I see manga magazines with sample chapters online, as well.

Comparing legit manga to illegal methods of distribution is always unfair. Because scans are free and unregulated, it always seems like you’re getting ripped off when you’re asked to pay. I think $5 is a very fair deal to read manga, especially when that is basically 50% of the retail cost of print, and no shipping. Despite the fact that I worked on this, I still paid for it (and all the other Yuri Manga, sans Yuru Yuri, on JManga.) Because I truly believe that digital manga is the best possible solution for a global market. And I do put my money where my mouth is.

Point Four: We are in the middle of technological change.
Suck it up.

Yes, I said these words, “When there are standard formats, more scalable systems, more ubiquity, we’ll see more adoption.” I meant it – and I believe it, to some extent. Except the bit about standard formats. Those will never last more than a short while from now on.

Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, iPad, Android tablet…yeah, every hardware has its own format.

People did not collect books when “books” were gigantic heavy vellum things that took years to transcribe. It was the invention of a process that standardized the creation of “books” that made it possible for regular people to read them and own them.

I completely understand and sympathize that you may not want to switch to digital – see Point 1. I always said that I’d switch when digital became the best option for me, not just an option. Well, if I want to read Yuri manga in English, JManga is the best option for me right now. Additionally, I found that carrying 15 books around on my tablet, which incidentally also allows me to connect to my blog and Twitter, is loads easier than carrying 15 books around and a laptop when I travel. Digital is not the perfect option, but is a very good option right now for me. (When I can buy Light Novels from Amazon JP on my Kindle app, it will be the best thing evar.)

In no way am I saying that you should or have to move to digital.

You don’t. Not now, not ever. (Take a moment and reflect on elderly relatives who had one huge console TV that had rabbit ear antennas. That could be you, if you’re comfortable with that.)

I am saying that if you love reading Yuri manga, there is a way right now that allows you to access translated Yuri manga that is legal, mostly global (with some exceptions) and is becoming more portable as they work on it. The people who do the work are paid, the folks who create the comics you like are paid. It is not perfect, but it is a very good option and has the support of the manga artists and  publishers. When you spend your $5 on JManga you are not stealing anything from anyone. You can feel morally sound and enjoy your Yuri. ^_^

No, there is no guarantee that JManga will exist in 10 years. And I get that you can play your parent’s LPs. But you can’t probably play their 8-tracks or their Betamax. Some media formats last longer than others. We’re watching all sorts of formats vying to become a standard.  Pick a format that works for you and run with it. When it turns out that reel to reel, then Betamax, does not end up being the media standard, you have to re-purchase your favorite movie on VHS and again on DVD, then Blu-ray. Actually, you really don’t HAVE to. You can wait until you really need to get a new whatever and upgrade your media to fit it, get whatever is state of the art at that moment and just realize that there will never be a point in time when a “standard” exists for more than a few years.

The world is speeding up, don’t expect it to slow down just because you remember when it was slower. ^_^

In my life we’ve gone through punch cards, then large floppy disks, then small floppy disks, then thumb drives, SSD and the cloud. I’ve had to reformat some of my files completely a dozen times. This is not something to be pissed about – it’s something to learn from. Change happens and it never stops happening.

Welcome to the future – here are your dancing shoes.

Try, to the best of your ability to separate what you are used to/like from what is good and righteous. And, please, no screeds about how awful the companies are, how bad translation sucks or whatever imagined criminal infractions they have made against fandom. See Point 2. That having been said, your comments, rebuttals and miscellaneous musings are welcome in the comments.

Send to Kindle

22 Responses

  1. Tukuyomi says:

    Nice article. I completely agree that change is just going to happen and we’ll just have to live with it.
    I never really wanted an ebook reader, but since buying English books there is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying the imported books from Amazon, I just went with it. And if there is NO other way to buy it, then well, I just don’t have a choice. Still better than not having it at all.

    Though I think you got one thing wrong. I don’t have to pay 5 Euros (I’m from Germany) for 500 points on JManga, I still pay 5 $. Which is a pretty sweet deal, since my subscription costs 8.99 $, which in Euros is less than I would have to pay for a single one of most German manga.
    So I’d guess it’s the same for other foreigners, too.

  2. DezoPenguin says:

    While I agree with about 90% of your comments (and buy manga on JManga because, yes, it’s the best option to do so…although I didn’t buy Girl Friends there because Seven Seas announced the license and I prefer to support the physical release, which is a different question), there is one point about the books/digital issue that I think is being overlooked.

    Comparison of digital manga/ebook publishing to various music and video media formats seems valid. Some last longer than others. The market moves on. Competing standards fight out in the marketplace until one wins. New technology replaces inferior types with superior ones. I can’t buy a Walkman that plays cassettes any more and sooner or later my collection of cassette tape media will be useless recycling fill. We’d abandoned wax cylinders on record players decades before I was born.

    But a printed book, unlike every other kind of media storage, is unique in that the storage device and the playback unit is the same thing. A digital file needs a computer, a tablet, something to play it on. A DVD needs a player. A record needs a turntable.

    A book needs nothing. You pick it up and you read it. And because of that, a printed book can never become obsolete. A book is the *only* form of media which, if I buy it today, I can *guarantee* I can still read it fifty years from now regardless of how technology advances or in what new and amazing directions the media market tastes.

    And that’s why a printed book has value over and above any other form of media. My DVD collection will eventually be destroyed by technological advancement, regardless of whether I only wanted to watch the content once or will want to revisit it yearly. But my library of printed books will last for as long as I can keep the books from being damaged.

    This is the fundamental reason why I want printed books and don’t want some kind of digital delivery system to become the standard. After all, in music and video, I’m well aware already that formats change and that at some time I will lose access to the media. But printed books are not like that. Replacing printed books with digital books is not the same as replacing 8-tracks with cassettes or DVDs with Blu-Ray (or with digital streaming). In your comments, you characterize the debate as being between “ownership” and “possession,” but for me, it’s not about that, but about “permanence” versus “temporary.” (As I’ve commented to friends many a time, this is why I consider the perfect choice for buying on e-book a book that I know in advance I’ll only want to read once.) And that is why, while I won’t *resist* a digital release if it’s a choice between “digital or nothing,” I will always support a print release when I have a choice between print or digital.

  3. Happy New Year, Erika!

    I agree with one of your main points: things change, and we have to deal with that fact. Hmmm, didn’t some famous dead dude from India say that a long time ago? It’s true, in any case.

    I am going with the flow in some ways — I pay for some streaming video services in order to watch movies or anime, for example.

    However, I’m (currently) sticking with good old fashioned dead trees for my manga, even though I do have several electronic devices which could be used to read them. One of the main reasons is that I like to re-read and re-read some old favorites, years after my first encounter. I have a small fear that I would lose the ability to do this with viewing-only services. But the main reason, I think, is that I’d like the ability to loan a copy of a really good story to my brother or my friends. I’ve donated some manga to a local group which auctions them off for charity; there’s another way I can use manga (for the Forces of Good!) which I would lose without the paper copy.

    I suppose the fact that I’m old and decrepit may have something to do with my desire to hold on to other outdated items …

    Please do continue to help making good stories available to as many people as possible! Perhaps I may one day have a change of heart. In the meantime, I’m working my way slowly though volume 3 of Girlfriends in Japanese, and looking forward to the entire series of Simoun on DVD — both titles which I purchased on your recommendation.

  4. @Tukuyomi – Thanks for the clarification!

  5. @Michael Richmond – Happy New Year to you, as well. ^_^ Thanks for reading!

    “I have a small fear that I would lose the ability to do this with viewing-only services.”

    A common belief. And one that will not go away ever, because no company is guaranteed to exist forever. And yet, you’re perfectly comfortable with this setup for movies. It’s amazing how we’ll be flexible for something and not for others. ^_^ Good luck with GIRL FRIENDS and Simoun!

  6. @ DezoPenguin – “Replacing printed books with digital books is not the same as replacing 8-tracks with cassettes or DVDs with Blu-Ray (or with digital streaming).”

    Actually, it is *exactly* the same.

    You’re just comfortable with a media that, to you, seems permanent. Your children will view this as relevant as you might view a TV with rabbit ear antenna.

  7. Ben Towle says:

    I largely agree with most of your points here, but…

    “People who do these things are not angry about not owning a copy.”

    While this is true, the other side of the issue is people who *don’t* do these things *because* they are simply purchasing a license rather than the actual content.

    Compounding the issue is price. I think there’s a lot of blowback about systems like Comixology among readers of U.S.comics because there’s a feeling–and an understandable one, IMHO–that there should be a more significant price differential between a physical object you own and a license to view something.

    You mention movie rentals. Imagine if it cost $25 to buy a blu-ray and $22 to rent it. That’s analogous to how some digital content vendors are pricing things. Jmanga’s pricing isn’t quite that egregious, but a lot of the stuff on comixology certain is.

  8. @DezoPenguin – I am so sorry, I accidentally deleted your last comment. My hands shake a bit and it really truly was an accident. I apologize

    When you go to the movie theater are you annoyed that they do not give you a copy of the movie to take with you? No, you paid for the right to enjoy the movie once on the platform provided.

    When you “buy” a Kindle book or a manga on JManga, you are buying the right to enjoy that book on that platform,(thankfully more than once).

    We’ll have to agree to disagree here. What people are used to, what they want and what is are not obliged to overlap in any meaningful way.

  9. @Ben Towle – Yes, exactly. When I “buy” a Kindle book, I am licensing the content, full stop. Same with JManga.

  10. I am, in fact, saying that we *are licensing the right to use content on a particular platform all the time already.* It’s a done deal. That is my point. Rage all you want, but Kindle is not going to morph into something else. Nor is Netflix, or Pandora or JManga. You are licensing the right to enjoy that content on that platorm. Full stop.

  11. Trixbat says:

    I have to disagree with you regarding the issue of ‘betrayal’ and manga cancellation.

    If it’s a manga with an actual end, it is something of a betrayal to sell people the beginning and the middle, and then not release the ending.

    It would be kind of like a publisher translating the books of Lord of the Rings into a foreign language, charging $70 per volume for it, and then only releasing Fellowship and The Two Towers.

    I think it is perfectly valid to feel ripped off and betrayed if that happens.

    And no, this doesn’t just represent a failure of the customer base to support the product. It can just as much represent a failure of the company – in its business and marketing – to realize that either they couldn’t sell it or there wasn’t a sustainable market for it in the format and price point they released it in.

    If you release an ongoing existing series with an ending to it, there is an implicit contract that you will complete that series of releases. If you don’t, you’re failing at your goals, and you’re failing the customers who supported you by buying the product up to that point.

    Sure, the customers don’t have any legal right to complain. But they do have a moral right to feel betrayed and to consider not supporting other companies that follow that same business model.

    This is not the same as selling the same product (hamburgers or episodic manga or whatever).

  12. Bruce P. says:

    In my traditional preference for books over electronic media I have always been in basic agreement with DezoPenguin and Michael Richmond. The reading experience is different, and I simply like the one better than the other. However, I have grown increasingly aware that books, particularly manga, in the long term are not really the permanent items they seemed when I started buying them 15 years ago. It comes down to storage space – I’m out of it. If I want to continue buying manga, as I do, I have pull out old volumes that I spent good money on, and might well be interested in reading again sometime, and donate them/give them away/lend them and hope they are never returned. Or throw them out. Going through my collection deciding which ones to dispose of is not fun. This has gives me a much greater appreciation for the advantages of reading manga stored electronically. It’s not a perfect solution – I miss the tactile sensation of flipping the pages of a book – but it is an effective solution to a problem I had never anticipated.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Dear God, does europeans pay 13323% of what americans do for manga on JManga? 1 Euro is 1.3323 USD today, so if the price is a USD-Cent for a point, and a Euro for a point… Yeah.

    Perhaps you meant cent? The Euro is divided in Cents (a hundred per Euro). So it’d be both a Euro Cent and a USD Cent for a point. Sounds fair, right? Well, it isn’t. See, a Euro is still worth 33% more, so the price for europeans are higher than that of americans. Fair.

    If you want to put the other way around, if the price was €5, it’d cost $6.66.

    And if the britts pay a pence per point, they shell out 58% more money per point. Please don’t call this fair. (Even if the VAT is probably higher in europe.)

  14. @Anonymous – If you look at Tukiyomi’s comment, no.

    But even so, you’re mixing and matching exhchange rates and points. If the US dollar or yen is exceptionally strong (or weak) that could be reversed. Bottom line 500/whatevers is a decent price for a manga. (And I meant 500 euro cents, so 5 euros. I’ll edit that to be clearer.)

    The point of JM Points is that readers do not ever have to be concerned with exchange rates. When I travel, I absolutely refuse to run the exchange in my head, that way leads to madness. So when I saw nice set of espresso cups in the Tate Modern, for 15 pounds each, I did not calculate the real cost, just made my decision as if they were $15/each. I decided not to get them, ultimately. But walking around a country in which the exchange rate is not in one’s favor one learns to ignore exchange rate and treat that country’s standard as the baseline.

  15. BruceMcF says:

    A “New Media” manga future:

    (1) Manga chapter appears in print serial; International chapter appears in digital serial or a-la-carte site

    (2) Panel by panel guided view is available as portable device app.

    (3) Tankoboun appears in print; digital volume appears as ebook and online

    (4) Manga audio drama recorded, available both with streaming ads and over subscription site(s) & in Japanese and w/translations

    … and of course for the most popular manga, there is also the possibility of being made into an anime.

  16. Anonymous says:

    My bookshelf is stacked two deep with managa. I bought DVD racks and filled them with manga. My closet is fully of comic boxes, which are full of manga. I have spent more money on manga than any other form of media I consume.

    I will not be spending a dime on Jmanga though. Why? Well, I was really happy when I heard the page started, but then completely lost interest when I seen the pricing and model. I am uncomfortable with digital purchases. Digital media works good as a subscription based service. If Jmanga changed to a monthly fee of around 7 dollars a month, that allowed access to all content, I would use Jmanaga. The only way I’d purchase a digital book, is if it was substantially cheaper than a physical book. Like a dollar a volume, and even then i’d not like the idea of “buying” a digital book.

    Without physical production costs, a retail store’s cut, shipping costs, and so on, how do they justify charging nearly full price for digital goods?

    With a digital book you lose the tactile feel, and cannot read digital manga in bed easily

    Digital books can be taken away. I have a friend who’s purchased digital books were removed from his e-reader because the supplying company lost the license. physical books, once purchased, can only leave my possession if someone pries them from my “cold dead hands”.I purchased a movie on PSN, at full price. Now it’s no longer available in my region, and I get jack. After spending a grand on digital books, if Jmanaga goes tits up, you’d also get jack. If a book company, like tokyo pop, goes under, it means very little. I have all the books on my shelf still. Worst case scenario is that I might have to buy the other volumes somewhere else one day.

    Digital books cannot be borrowed or re-sold. while technically this many not be totally legit. I don’t see a problem with it.

    Once media goes digital and big companies have control they start with things like price discrimination to milk people for all they can get. If you live in the wrong region, then you cannot get your media or you have to pay an unfair price for it. Like anime blu-rays that come out in North America late or with missing audio tracks to prevent the japanese from importing the blu-rays back to their country. Why? because they know they can’t gouge people in the US as much as they can the people in Japan for said media, and accidentally put both countries in the same blu-ray region code. There are many examples of this. DRM on digital products promotes this. What happened to a good product at a fair price?

  17. mendhi says:

    I’m happy with digital and love JManga. However, I do have to agree with Dezo about printed books not being the same as digital media. Not just considering the tactile feel of it, but more about being able to read one at all in the future.

    It’s not about books being ‘relevant’ or not in the future. It’s whether I can utilize one without any sort of external device or site. The ‘devices’ used to access a book are your own eyes and cognitive processes. That’s it. Unless the human species evolves/changes completely someday, in someway that I can’t even imagine, then the kid of tomorrow can still read the book of today (or at least look at the pictures if they don’t get the language).

    In other words, if JManga closes down, I don’t have a way to access the media anymore (which makes purchasing stuff from there more of ‘renting’ than ‘buying’). If Bluray devices disappear from the world, then my Bluray collection will be pretty hard to view. But I can still pass down a book and expect people to read it no matter how technology evolves.

    Will it be the ideal future medium? No. Can I and others still read it? As long as people keep sharp sticks away from their eyes, then yeah (or, heck, someone else could even just read it to you, minus pictures of course).

    Basically, digital media is different from physical media in one key aspect: the device used to ‘render’ a book is a human being itself. The ‘devices’ to read the content are biologically based.

  18. Hatrock says:

    I agree with anonymous up above. For some of us, it is simply a DRM vs Non-DRM argument.

    Print media is not the issue. I’m going digital, and even then, I can still manually print out what I want anyway.

    No, the real thing here is DRM.

    It’s nothing to do with the fuzzy feelings of ownership. Here’s the deal. I work hard to earn my own money. If I purchase a product, by which the seller has the unfettered right to take away what I bought anytime, by putting install/read limits or tying the product up in such a way, that if the company closes, the product will be void. Then I’m essentially giving away money for free!

    I thought publishers hate it when people pirate their books/comics/goods for free, yet they have no qualms about doing the same to their customers!

    If I were to give away money where I’d get nothing back in return, I’d rather give it to charity, the poor, children, the old and sick, and a thousand other causes, than the entertainment industry, whose profit margins seem to be ever increasing.

    It’s easy to argue DRM for entertainment products, since nobody really *needs* them, and they aren’t so expensive that you’ve got to sell your firstborn to afford them.

    Wait till DRM is applied to things that we actually need. Like food, water, cars and housing.

    Imagine, if I sell someone a house for a princely sum of $1 million, and I’ve got the legal right to throw the occupants out anytime, control how many times they can access their locks, enter their house when I please. Essentially housing DRM, I bet there’d be an outrageous rage, instead of people arguing for acceptance.

    Mercifully, not everyone is Pro-Drm. I buy niche fiction. The E-store which I buy my books from, is completely DRM-free. My PDFs can be freely read any number of times and anywhere. And if I lose all my digital books, I can re-download them as many times as I want from my account, for free.

    Same with games. Currently I buy from a digital store, which built it’s business model, by selling the *feelings* of ownership to it’s customers, aka 100% DRM-free games. The owner even admitted in his “Thank you” New years message, that most didn’t think they would survive, due to changes in technology and piracy, but they’ve been thriving for 4 years now.

    To end this, however, this is a free world. I can’t begrudge authors and publishers, from putting DRM into their work, or turning to a streaming model..etc..

    I just simply vote with my wallet, support DRM-free products, and people who thought of means to strip/bypass DRM. The rest, borrow or get through alternative means.

    Ironically, I wind up saving more money this way.

  19. Anonymous says:

    kd”Dear Perpetually Angry Fan, I understand that you feel disappointed because:

    “Tokyopop went out of business, and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

    “CPM went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

    “CMX went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

    “ADV went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

    “Go Comi! went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

    “Infinity Studios went out of business and wasn’t able to finish printing your favorite manga.

    “And, for good measure, DC or Marvel cancelled the comic you like with the artists you liked…”

    …and, in doing so, none of those companies came to our houses and public libraries and took away the copies we’d already paid for and enjoy re-reading from time to time. :)

    The P.A.F.s may be disappointed about this, but *I* am *happy* about this. :D

    “…The point system is to make it possible for everyone globally to pay a fair price. 500 points equals 500 cents, 500 yen, 500 pence, 500 euro cents…”

    It’s akin to the in-game currency in a lot of online games. An item in the game costs the same gold or diamonds or crystals or whatever for everyone.

    *Outside* the game, when you go buy those gold or diamonds or crystals or whatever, *then* you’re faced with the screens charging you real currency for those.

    I also bet JManga adjusts the prices of 500 points when international exchange rates change and 500 cents, 500 yen, 500 pence, 500 euro cents don’t all equal *each other*…

    “…(although we are still paying for work like translation, editing and lettering)…”

    True!

    “I’ve had to reformat some of my files completely a dozen times.”

    Awesome. Backing up your stuff is very wise. :D

  20. Anonymous says:

    “…But a printed book, unlike every other kind of media storage, is unique in that the storage device and the playback unit is the same thing. A digital file needs a computer, a tablet, something to play it on. A DVD needs a player. A record needs a turntable.

    “A book needs nothing. You pick it up and you read it. And because of that, a printed book can never become obsolete. A book is the *only* form of media which, if I buy it today, I can *guarantee* I can still read it fifty years from now regardless of how technology advances or in what new and amazing directions the media market tastes…”

    Fantastic points!

    “…between ‘ownership’ and “possession,’ but for me, it’s not about that, but about ‘permanence’ versus ‘temporary.’ (As I’ve commented to friends many a time, this is why I consider the perfect choice for buying on e-book a book that I know in advance I’ll only want to read once.) And that is why, while I won’t *resist* a digital release if it’s a choice between ‘digital or nothing,’ I will always support a print release when I have a choice between print or digital…”

    Hear, hear!

    Some of the stories coming out now will become classics and be appreciated for decades if not centuries.

    Some of the stories coming out now will be discarded as cheap pulp trash and be forgotten next year.

    Some of the stories coming out now are in between of course.

    Now when someone’s asking me to pay to read his or her story and asking me to not care if I can re-read it later…

    “@ DezoPenguin – “Replacing printed books with digital books is not the same as replacing 8-tracks with cassettes or DVDs with Blu-Ray (or with digital streaming).”

    “Actually, it is *exactly* the same.

    “You’re just comfortable with a media that, to you, seems permanent. Your children will view this as relevant as you might view a TV with rabbit ear antenna.”

    Why do you think it is *exactly* the same? Do you think DezoPenguin will raise his or her children to be *illiterate in English*?

    Remember, DezoPenguin said:

    “…But a printed book, unlike every other kind of media storage, is unique in that the storage device and the playback unit is the same thing. A digital file needs a computer, a tablet, something to play it on. A DVD needs a player. A record needs a turntable.

    “A book needs nothing. You pick it up and you read it. And because of that, a printed book can never become obsolete. A book is the *only* form of media which, if I buy it today, I can *guarantee* I can still read it fifty years from now regardless of how technology advances or in what new and amazing directions the media market tastes…”

    What is to printed books as DVD players are to DVD discs?

    Literacy in the books’ languages.

    What is to a book printed in English as the lack of DVD players is to a DVD disc?

    Illiteracy in English, that’s what.

  21. Anonymous says:

    “…Without physical production costs, a retail store’s cut, shipping costs, and so on, how do they justify charging nearly full price for digital goods?…”

    Hey! Don’t forget the hard work that goes into writing, illustrating, editing, and translating the books!

    “…Digital books can be taken away. I have a friend who’s purchased digital books were removed from his e-reader because the supplying company lost the license. physical books, once purchased, can only leave my possession if someone pries them from my ‘cold dead hands’.I purchased a movie on PSN, at full price. Now it’s no longer available in my region, and I get jack. After spending a grand on digital books, if Jmanaga goes tits up, you’d also get jack. If a book company, like tokyo pop, goes under, it means very little. I have all the books on my shelf still. Worst case scenario is that I might have to buy the other volumes somewhere else one day…”

    Indeed.

    Of course, some would say that you shouldn’t want to keep possession of the physical books you bought.

    As if they’re just cheap ephemeral pulp, instead of stuff worth re-reading.

    Now, how much of your time and your hard-earned money (or your parents’ hard-earned money, for all I know you’re a teenager) do you really want to spend on cheap ephemeral pulp, stuff that even its own publishers won’t treat as worth re-reading…?

    “…It’s not about books being ‘relevant’ or not in the future. It’s whether I can utilize one without any sort of external device or site. The ‘devices’ used to access a book are your own eyes and cognitive processes. That’s it. Unless the human species evolves/changes completely someday, in someway that I can’t even imagine, then the kid of tomorrow can still read the book of today (or at least look at the pictures if they don’t get the language).

    “In other words, if JManga closes down, I don’t have a way to access the media anymore (which makes purchasing stuff from there more of ‘renting’ than ‘buying’). If Bluray devices disappear from the world, then my Bluray collection will be pretty hard to view. But I can still pass down a book and expect people to read it no matter how technology evolves.

    “Will it be the ideal future medium? No. Can I and others still read it? As long as people keep sharp sticks away from their eyes, then yeah (or, heck, someone else could even just read it to you, minus pictures of course)…”

    Wise words about the bigger picture!

    Speaking of the bigger picture and books in general: don’t forget Braille. ;)

    “…If I were to give away money where I’d get nothing back in return, I’d rather give it to charity, the poor, children, the old and sick, and a thousand other causes, than the entertainment industry, whose profit margins seem to be ever increasing…”

    Indeed.

    It’s like when Kickstarter began and some artists tried advertising their Kickstarter projects like charities instead of like crowdsourcing venture capital things. I was like, dude, your indie film ain’t exactly Doctors Without Borders.

    “…Wait till DRM is applied to things that we actually need. Like food, water, cars and housing…”

    Like if we had to download those to 3D printers instead of being able to buy them analog in the first place?

  22. Anonymous says:

    “…When you go to the movie theater are you annoyed that they do not give you a copy of the movie to take with you? No, you paid for the right to enjoy the movie once on the platform provided…”

    …that, and enjoy the movie once in the *venue* provided. Going to the movie theater isn’t the equivalent of buying a manga to read at home.

    First, you *go* out. You get out of your house or apartment.

    Second, you *stay* out and consume the story *there*.

    Third, you’re surrounded by *other people* while you consume the story. It’s a social experience, not a solitary one like reading a manga on your computer or ebook reader screen.

    Now, buying a tape or DVD or whatever of a movie? *That* is the equivalent of buying a manga to read at home.

    Anyone else remember when they tried to sell (not rent out, sell) DVDs of movies for you to pay to watch at home once and pay for all over again if you wanted to watch again the next year?

    http://www.dvdjournal.com/extra/divx.html (Divx, not the video codec by the same name, 1999)

    http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2000/01/33781 (SpectraDisc, 2000)

    http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1817828,00.html (Flexplay, 2008)

    “I’m going digital, and even then, I can still manually print out what I want anyway.”

    Good idea!

    People like DezoPenguin who want to keep the books they buy backed up on paper can print the ebooks they buy at home. That way, the publishers won’t need to buy paper or even decide how many copies to print and ship. :D

Leave a Reply