Hard Decisions

March 18th, 2013

Okay, after a really bad week last week, during which JManga closed up and fans everywhere ignored the impossibly complex business of licensing and publishing to point fingers at individual factors which they, with their years of experience in pointing fingers, believe is “the reason” JManga failed, I have made a decision.

In 2000, I started a fan community for Yuri. 13 years later, it’s still a fan community. It’s not an annual event, or a thriving sustainable manga market. You know that old business adage about “do a thing for 10 years and you’ll be an overnight success?” It’s not true. ^_^;

In 2012, ALC published an e-book for free, which you all insist you’ll wait ’til it comes out in print to buy. You could have bought it – as a download, which you all say you want for digital – but you didn’t. ALC assisted with the localization of about 20 more great Yuri manga. We’ve  promoted materials from Seven Seas (who does not say thank you – even when they ask me for information or help – and has only *once* thought to send me a review copy and that was because I worked on the book. Great guys, go ahead and give them all your money.) Yuricon sent out letters to three  anime conventions, five hotels and several Japanese companies and has received to date exactly zero positive replies. One hotel had the decency to reply to us. Not one of the conventions even so much as sent us a “thanks, but no thanks” email. I didn’t expect any of the Japanese companies to respond.

I’m stepping down as Yuricon events chair totally. I can’t run a sustainable event with the money in my pocket alone. I kept hoping one book, or one event would be successful enough to fund the next. I’m also giving up, for the moment, hope of publishing  anything new. I can’t afford print, you don’t want digital, the JP companies won’t talk to me and all the many differences between JP publishers and US fans are so huge and insurmountable. I don’t have the energy or clout or money to bridge the gap.

On the front end, this will make no difference to you. I’ll still be blogging and promoting good Yuri, collecting and disseminating news and research here on Okazu and on Yuricon. I’m available for writing, lecturing and editing. But on the back end, I’m stopping trying to accomplish anything. 13 years is enough. I’m tired. 13 years is a long time to fail at something. ^_^;

This is not to say I’m giving up loving Yuri. I‘m merely giving up trying to create a sustainable Yuri market here in the the US. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with a review.

Extra credit question: How many sales do you think a JManga ‘Best Seller’ made?

Postscript: More well-wishes (and less “you suck” comments) that I imagined came in after this post. Thank you all. I want to reassure you that I am fine. Not suicidally depressed or anything at all. ^_^ It is one of my magic powers to adapt to change  faster than most people can even envision change. For those of you interested in business management, in the last three years I have attempted to “pivot” this business several times. The market just wasn’t there to make anything sustainable.

The answer to the extra credit question is about 300 or so. That means a best seller was taking in roughly $1500. That about covered the cost of  producing the thing. When there’s not enough profit and seed money is gone..that’s it for the company.  Once again, it’s not Dawinian failure, neither was CPM or Tokyopop. (You know how crazy people sound when they blame hurricanes on gays and the like? Fans sound exactly the same when they blame business’ failure on random things.) No company fails because they want to screw fans. It’s just business. ^_^

So again, thanks for all your kind words. I’m fine. I’m still here and that means there’s always another opportunity ahead. (^_^)v

Send to Kindle

134 Responses

  1. Michael Vito says:

    Any plans for what you’ll do with the time/energy opening up?

  2. Josh says:

    As psychotically silly as this may sound, never give up!

    Trying to make Yuri popular in the US is a damn good dream to follow. You didn’t fail: it’s the people around you (Not all of them, but many of them) that failed!

    YURI FOR LIVE!!!

    • Thank Josh. I’m not giving up, I’m abandoning a failed business model. ^_^

      • Josh says:

        I can say that if I was to buy manga from you, it would most definitely be physical. I enjoy looking at my collection on my shelf (Yuri & Otherwise), I enjoy holding the book, and I enjoy flipping the pages & feeling the paper. You can’t get that with a digital copy!

        I can only hope that you get back into it at a later time, cause I thought you put in a lot of positive energy into it. Perhaps it was just me.

        YURI (And Heavy Metal) FOR LIFE!!!!

        • I’m not sure if you’re just insensitive or aggressively clueless Josh. I don’t think you know you’re being either. That is exactly the problem with fandom.

          Re-read this section until you understand it:

          I can’t afford print, you don’t want digital, the JP companies won’t talk to me and all the many differences between JP publishers and US fans are so huge and insurmountable.

        • BruceMcF says:

          Hey, Josh, if you can convince a few of your friends (well, “a few” is a little loose here) to pony up $1,000 each to fund an advance, translation, editing, layout and a print run for points on the gross that will surely not total $1,000, you might be able to get your own print run of something out, and get that satisfaction of holding the printed work in your hand.

  3. Chris Driggers says:

    You deserve a break. Also, thank you for your efforts. For me at least, it was not wasted. I’m a yuri fan thanks to this site, and you.

  4. SBA says:

    Thank you so, so much for all your efforts. While they may be at an end, I feel that they mattered. They, and of course you, are truly appreciated, at least by some of us.

  5. Greg Carter says:

    I totally understand the decision. Conventions and publishing off-the-web and are two huge challenges that I spent a lot of time pondering this weekend. You have to focus on the things that work. I just wish I knew what worked. ;)

    If I may quote one of my favorite episodes of one of my favorite TV shows:
    Sometimes a thing gets broke, can’t be fixed.

    Taking a stab at JManga best-seller #: 12.

  6. Kushieda says:

    jmanga was a failed business model, not ” I can’t afford print, you don’t want digital”.

    I want digital. I want digital everything. My bookshelves are overflowing with print manga that I don’t know where to put anymore, and my wife is starting to think I have a “Problem”. Bless her for only starting to think this after I have 2 6 foot shelves tripple and quadruple stacked with manga.

    What I don’t want is a “digital manga license” that JManga was selling. It was stupid from the start, and I and many other fans I know refused to support such a stupid move from publishers. I feel sorry for all the young fans who probably wasted tons of minimum wage money on the venture without understanding the risks to themselves.

    I hope you the best in the future as a fellow Yuri lover, but yeah, try not to screw the fans either.

    • Why don’t you read that message out loud to someone who is an adult? Hopefully they’ll be willing to explain to you why it’s vile and you are a terrible person.

      • A. Pirate says:

        Translation: I am mad but I don’t have a mature response.

        Anyway, I just came to gloat at your well-deserved failure. Your shir did not sell because it is shit. Deal with it.

        Hey, if you’re going to respond to that perfectly-reasonable post like an idiot, there’s no reason for me to be civil either

    • Kushieda says:

      Because I have a wife? Because I have over 500 volumes print manga? I’m not sure what you are getting at. It’s not your fault that Jmanga failed, it’s as you stated in your post, “all the many differences between JP publishers and US fans are so huge and insurmountable. I don’t have the energy or clout or money to bridge the gap.”

      I couldn’t have done even 1% of what you accomplished getting Yuri on the market, and I’m happy that you were able to do anything with it.

      You can’t do anything about the JP publishers being afraid to put up manga as a 100% real download like many other ebooks. I do have manga ebooks that I’ve purchased from other publishers (like seven seas you mentioned above, I’m sorry they treated you so poorly).

      Reading books to me is not the same as watching a show on cable TV. I don’t want a 1 time view, I want to be able to read it over and over without having to worry about the company folding.

      Point #3.2 and #3.7 in JManga’s “urgent message” were exactly my hesitation in supporting that model in the first place.

      • I have a wife too and thousands of manga volumes, you blithering idiot.

        • Kushieda says:

          Wow, I’m sorry you are so angry at the moment. Maybe you can respond in a less jarring way after you’ve calmed down. Either that or you can explain to me what I said to make you so upset. Then I’ll be more educated for future communications and hopefully not step on more toes.

          • I’m not angry at all. I’ve just decided that for one day I will tell people the truth without worrying about their incredibly fragile egos. I’ll do you this one favor: You are a horrible person because when you’re saying “thanks” to someone, following that with a prolonged statement, “but…xyz sucked because”, when you are completely and totally ignorant makes you a horrible, selfish person. Now do yourself a favor. Go away, read a book on business communications. You may never speak to me again, but you’ll have learned something important.

          • Kushieda says:

            Thank you for the much better reply. It makes me understand your feelings on the issue as opposed to just name calling. I’m sorry you felt that I was bashing you with my extra comments on jmanga. You are correct I should have kept closer to topic and left that discussion for a different forum. Again, best of luck in the future promoting what you love.

    • BruceMcF says:

      “It was stupid from the start, and I and many other fans I know refused to support such a stupid move from publishers.”

      This is heading into self-fulfilling prophecy country.

      “I feel sorry for all the young fans who probably wasted tons of minimum wage money on the venture without understanding the risks to themselves.”

      What risk would that be? The risk of financial loss or physical injury to spending an hour’s wages on renting access to a niche online is nil, as long as they don’t try to read while driving or walking down the street or operating dangerous machinery at work.

      The only “risks” were the risk of not being able to reread a manga they loved enough to reread, and the risk of not being able to finish a series that they started. They face the second risk with their physical collections all the time ~ the risk of series not being able to be finished is well known. And if they loved a title enough to want to reread it multiple times in the future, then the fact that you were able to read it at all is surely worth $6 a volume.

      Indeed ~ and being young, they may not be aware of this ~ they also face the risk of not being able to reread their physical manga at some time in the future. Under the argument that they should only pay to read their manga on a absolute guarantee of an ability to read in perpetuity, they should not buy print manga, which does not come with any guarantee of replacement in the event of being lost, damaged or stolen.

      Indeed, since what stood between JManga and success was volume of sales, the larger the numbers of young people that had faced this risk at JManga, the lower the risk would have been, and with a large enough number, the risk would have been negligible.

      When this is tried again ~ and it will be, sooner or later ~ there will be a possibility of success and a possibility of failure. At that time, paying for the right to read online will be chipping away at the prospects of failure and increasing the prospects of success. On the other hand, following your advice and refusing to pay for the right to read because it is not yet a sure thing will be undermining the prospects for success and increasing the chance of failure.

      When it comes to an opportunity to reward the creators of art that I enjoy, I’m happy I was in the first group, even if this time it proved too small, and will happily join the first group again when it is tried again.

      • Comments like this make me wish there was a “Like” button on WP comments. Well said – as always. I agree with you completely, no surprise.

      • Kushieda says:

        Thanks for you input on this. I still disagree about the business model, but it makes me understand better the people who used the service.

        • BruceMcF says:

          Agreeing and disagreeing with business models is something for investors to worry about ~ for us ordinary consumers, deciding whether what we get for what we pay is enough to justify spending the money is more than enough.

          As an economist, I was highly skeptical about the business model that JManga launched with, but on the other hand I’m not ever going to learn Japanese, so an opportunity to pay for Poor Poor Lips, Kimino Tamenara Shineru, Girlfriends or Night on the Galactic Railroad to be licensed and translated was not something I was going to pass up. Luckily they cut their prices, so I could afford to read more of those than I would otherwise have been able to do.

  7. Lyn Jensen says:

    My guess as to what a JManga best-seller sold: 150.

  8. Mandy says:

    I’m definitely sad to hear the news, but I absolutely understand and am actually very glad you’ve made this decision for yourself. You’ve worked so hard and stressed over a community that hasn’t been very grateful… to put it kindly. I don’t even want to know how much of your own time and resources you’ve poured into Yuricon. I think I’d be staggered to hear of it and feel even more like a lazy bum than I already am!

    So please enjoy your new free time until you find some other cause to champion. You know you’ll have my support when that time comes. :)

    And I’m scared to hear the answer to the JManga extra credit q… Do I want to know or will it depress me further? ><

  9. BruceMcF says:

    Gosh, talk about heart in my mouth time ~ by the time I hit the part saying Okazu would continue, I was fearing the worst. So big sigh of relief there.

    I, for one, loved the chance to buy a digital copy of Tokyo Love, which was a bargain at $6 (40% of what would be a modest short run print price point at $15, even if $6 is the normal downloadable eManga price point) (and you should put a link to the Tokyo Love buying page in your blog sidebar), but if print is not viable and not moving in that direction, proper ebooks are not (yet?) viable in this niche, and there’s not (yet!) a viable ecosystem in which to translate and sell into an online subscription market …

    … then I’d certainly rather you set that on indefinite hiatus than to risk losing your invaluable information and advocacy from total burnout, due to hitting your head against a publishing brick wall.

    I surely can’t complain about your setting the events chair over to one side, waiting for someone else to sit in it, since making it to one professional conference per year pretty much burns through my travel budget, I likely couldn’t afford to attend an event anyway, unless it happened to be in Cleveland, Columbus or Pittsburgh.

    • No no, I’ll still Blog. I write this for myself, ultimately.Thanks for your support.

    • Kathryn says:

      Gosh, talk about heart in my mouth time ~ by the time I hit the part saying Okazu would continue, I was fearing the worst. So big sigh of relief there.

      I second this! Maybe this is selfish of me, but I’m enormously relieved that you’ll still be maintaining and updating your blog and the Yuricon website. I can’t imagine my internet life without Okazu.

      I own a copy of every volume of Yuri Monogatari, and I love each one of them. I also loved the chance to buy a digital copy of Tokyo Love (and I totally agree with Bruce’s suggestion about putting a link to the book’s Amazon listing in the sidebar). I can’t thank you enough for your hard work and dedication to quality in the face of unreasonable resistance.

      I’m happy that you can now move your energies to different projects, though. May your future ventures be more rewarding both financially and emotionally.

  10. dm00 says:

    Since you’re sounding frustrated and annoyed, I guess this might be a good time to say “Thank you” for introducing me to many wonderful series — both anime and manga, and for your insights into the publishing business.

    I’m glad to hear you’ll continue blogging. I’m looking forward to what you have to say about the remainder of Mawaru Penguindrum, and other series that are on the horizon.

  11. Roxie says:

    Thank you for all you’ve done for the Yuri community. Without your blog and reviews, I would have been unable to find one of my favorite anime/manga niches, as well as understanding the state of the anime/manga business. I can personally understand your frustration with the US anime/manga fan community. As someone that supports my art friends that create original manga/anime/games with money and labor, it’s extremely heartbreaking to see that repeated mentality over and over again how “fans” just want everything for free (and piracy issues) with no monetary support to those creators/industries. I’ve also staffed for 8 years at anime conventions, including starting one up from scratch. I can only imagine the frustration in getting the venues/funds to run one of these events. While I have no idea how many paying Yuri fans there are, I guess it’s not large enough to support anything…

    Enjoy your much needed freedom now as you clearly deserve it.

  12. Jst says:

    While I am relieved to hear that Okazu will live on I guess the only thing to really say today is thank you Erica for all of your hard work through the years.

  13. Hey there,

    You have my complete sympathy in this. I can say that I personally know how it it to invest a tremendous amount of energy in an endeavor, only to feel like you’re the only one pulling the sled as everyone else sits on the back, either enjoying the ride or bitching about the bumps in the road, but not actually jumping off to help pull the damn thing.

    With any luck, maybe we can get together later this spring to check out the upcoming Japanse print and Samurai themed shows at the Boston MFA. There’s a lot of nuances to my own thoughts about digital media that I think I can communicate better in person, and I definitely don’t want to derail this thread.

    All the best!

    • Hi Krzysztof! Thanks. That would be swell and you know – you’re one of those relatively few people I want to have that conversation with. ^_^ Honestly, I plan on spending spring catching up with friends and I love Boston.

    • I should also say that there were a lot of people who pulled their weight, but the weight was just too heavy in the end to get very far.

  14. Rinu says:

    I really respected you for the decision to go digital without any restrains as a first manga company out there and it’s sad to hear that it didn’t do so well.

    Thank you for trying to do so, for cultivating Western distribution and for telling me about many interesting titles. I wish I had the same drive.

  15. Me. says:

    I spent $80 on yuri through Jmanga- all lost now, so don’t lecture us about how we should all love drm.

    Your main market are adolescents and students, so don’t lecture them about not being able to justify shipping fees three times the price of the products themselves.

    Jmanga’s top sellers were all yuri, despite it being only 10% of its output; so don’t tell me we don’t bother paying for yuri- we do.

    And don’t blame us for not wanting to buy the emanga you provide- it may be yuri but it is not, in fact, good.

    Your business isn’t failing because the consumer is wrong. Your model has never been sustainable because you never understood your market.

    • Do you feel better now? Good.

      • Me. says:

        A little. I’m pretty pissed all in all; your coverage of the downfall of jmanga has been aggressively defensive and at the end of the day, I’m out of pocket. I’m sorry your plans never came to fruition or whatever, but it’s pretty bullshit to do the same thing for 13 years and then blame everyone else when it doesn’t magically start working.

    • BruceMcF says:

      “Your business isn’t failing because the consumer is wrong. Your model has never been sustainable because you never understood your market.”

      Working to establishing a self-sustaining market for the kind of yuri that she likes was her *goal*.

      If you are saying she would have been more successful if she had pursued the kind of yuri that she doesn’t care much for, you don’t have a very strong grasp of the meaning of the word “success”.

      If she had done that, then she would have denied herself the successes she *did* achieve, in terms of the yuri manga that ALC did put out and worked on, which as it stands she can be rightfully proud of.

      • And I never once supported DRM. I think it’s ass. But that’s not the point Me is trying to make. Me wants you all to know I suck. Sadly I don’t. I’m actually a very happy person with no interest in the likes of people like that. ^_^

        • BruceMcF says:

          Part of that reads like first drafts of some of my ESL students back when I was teaching in Australia. Methinks “Me” didn’t think through the Jar Jar Binks effect of his chosen screen name. Me would have been such a G if Me had picked G instead.

          … (and if you were miserable doing what you were doing, wouldn’t you have given yourself an aneurysm by now?) …

          ^_^ I hope you’re even happier having decided to set down the Sisyphean task you had set for yourself ~ at least, unless a viable opportunity presents itself, but then if that happens, it wouldn’t be a Sisyphean task anymore.

        • Me. says:

          You don’t suck. But this post you just made, and your response to the collapse of jmanga? They suck.

          Don’t cast yourself as the weary entrepreneuse and me as the lumpen, thieving prole who has at last forced you to give up your dream of being a ~*~*Business Woman*~*~. You have never had a functional business. Perhaps it was never possible; but if that’s the case then you are even less justified in your attitude to your would-be customers.

          I have enjoyed your reviews, and many of the series I subsequently got into through this site. But you have *never* made it possible for me to give you money in exchange for the thing I want- decent yuri. Believe me, i would have paid for that- in fact I have. But not you! And I never could have!

          • BruceMcF says:

            Note that there is nothing like “Don’t cast yourself as the weary entrepreneuse and me as the lumpen, thieving prole who has at last forced you to give up your dream of being a ~*~*Business Woman*~*~.” to be found in the post.

            The post (1) explains the dream, which you simply ignore and swap in your projection instead and (2) doesn’t blame anyone, nor point to any cause other than the market for the work that Erica would like to see published being too small.

            By the way, if you spent $80 for access to JManga volumes, so access to something like 14-16 volumes, how much yuri could that have included if you avoided every one of the series that ALC worked on?

  16. Todd Allis says:

    Thanks for all the hard work over the last 13 years! Thirteen is my favorite number, and a good one to stop at when things continue not to work out at all. I am glad Okazu is continuing!

  17. Katie says:

    Thanks for everything, Erica! I have fond memories of Yuricon and hopefully I’ll see you at Otakon again this year.

  18. Goggled Anon says:

    So just to clarify, any idea what’s gonna happen to the series (YuruYuri, PoorPoorLips, etc.) that were licensed for JManga? (eg. Will they be left on the shelf, dropped altogether or put on the market for other licensors to potentially buy?)

    • BruceMcF says:

      That was addressed in the JManga closing post ~ the licenses revert when JManga closes their reader (I think the last day 20May, which would mean they revert 21May), no clue what will happen after that and don’t expect to hear anything in the short term future ~ it will be certainly months and quite possibly years until something new gets sorted out for Manga that are not getting a primary North American release.

      • just me says:

        So it’s like the English-language* licenses TokyoPop had?

        * I specify this because TokyoPop still has a bunch of licenses to translate books into German and last time I checked still publishes those books.

  19. Jordan says:

    I’m very sorry to hear that things didn’t work out. I import Japanese print volumes because I’m learning the language and it’s immensely helpful for me to have the book in my hand as I go through it. As such, I’ve never bought any digital (translated or original language) manga. However, I know it’s something you’ve worked hard on and I had hoped things were going well. I’m happy to hear that you’ll continue with the blog as it’s been something I’ve read for years.

  20. Lisa says:

    Thank you for publishing Tokyo Love as a PDF! It looks fine on my Sony PRS-650 Reader. I look forward to reading your blog every week, so I’m glad you will continue that.

  21. Ex says:

    So you’re finally going to stop annoying the ACTUAL yuri (hey look, it’s not a proper noun and shouldn’t be capitalized, hurr) community by interfering with the scanlations efforts of the sane fans? Thank. God. Maybe now we can all just quietly resume the work of scanning and translating yuri manga for free, on the internet, like we should have been doing from the beginning.

    • lol hypocrisy says:

      Because the proper way to honor a genre you like is to rip works off with a scanner, translate them, and distribute them for free without giving a single penny to the original creator.

      You sure are a “true” yuri fan, sir.

    • @Ex – Dude, I really wish you were just trolling ironically to be obnoxious. Because if you actually believe anything you’re writing, that makes you the biggest cross-class moron-slash-a**hole in the world.

  22. Krista says:

    Hi Erica, it sure has been a crappy few days. I got my start as a professional translator working on Don’t Cry Girl and Mo’Some Sting for JManga, so I’m sad to see them go.

    I wanted to say that I’d never read any yuri before or felt the need to seek it out, but thanks to JManga7 I was able to try out all sorts of different series, including yuri. I found some series that I enjoyed more than I thought I would, including Girlfriends and Poor Poor Lips – it’s really too bad the final volume of that won’t be released in English in the near future, but I enjoyed the opportunity to read the first three volumes and appreciate all the work you and the rest of ALC did the past couple years.

    The JM7 site was a great idea and showed great progress in building a potential market for the books; well, except for the fact that even fewer people knew about it than the main JManga site. Maybe another site will be able to make a success of providing a large variety of English-translated manga, but I don’t see that happening for quite a while. I certainly don’t blame you for leaving yuri publication for others to tackle, after 13(!) years of trying.

  23. Mara says:

    13 years is more effort than even a titan manages. You could have ceased after half that time and still have my up-most respect.

    I hope you are not cancelling the event you had planned in NY comic con though. I am endearing as much as I can to be there so I can thank you in person.

    Thank you so much for making my days more fun and I look forward to all future articles you write with anticipation.

    Mara

    • NYCC is one of the conventions that did not bother to reply. I will do my best to be there, so we can still meet, but as a regular attendee.

      And thank you! I hope we can look for more great commentary and Guest Reviews from you.

  24. OrangePekoe says:

    How horrible. First JManga, now this? Sorry you’ve had a week like this. I don’t think I can say anything others haven’t already said.

    You were probably my biggest influence to begin importing yuri series directly, you’ve led me to countless great manga and anime titles, and I was honored to be able to purchase Yuri Monogatari volumes 3-6 (I would’ve got the others, but I’ve only been frequenting this site for the past 6 months)! I totally missed the release of Tokyo Love, sorry about that…

    So, sorry how everything turned out. Thank you very much for all your hard work and the constant pushes for great yuri. Still looking forward to reading your posts every week. I guess that’s it, besides any pointless rambling or sobbing I could continue with.

    Enjoy all your new time off!

  25. Even though I never bought anything from JManga (my resources are limited, after all), my heart sank when I heard it was closing down. And after all that effort coming to seemingly nothing, I don’t blame you for taking a break.

    But being a faithful Okazu reader, I’m happy you’re continuing it, and I’ll keep reading regularly. And as LGBT issues become mainstream issues (finally!) and the old conservative values fall out of the mainstream (at last!), I’m going to do what I can to make the same thing happen in fiction, including my own. Some things are too important to be left to Loser Fanboys…

  26. morineko says:

    Times of transition are really, really, rotten. I know I’m part of the problem–I’ve stopped purchasing manga, digital or otherwise, because I’m trying to catch up on a massive backlog of already purchased manga. I had purchased most of your print publications, but the change in the market also bit me there–the feminist/lesbian bookstore where I bought them closed last year. (There’s a lot to be said about the disappearance of the physical “third place” in the LGBTQ community, but probably not here…I can imagine what a dampener that’s been in promoting yuri and lesbian comics to that audience, though.)

    • I guess I’m broken or something, because transition and change don’t really bother me. ^_^ I tried to pivot the business a few times, and it just never panned out. Transition is hard, but it’s a process – we won’t know where we’ll end up until we get there!

    • just me says:

      Gah!

      I was gonna respond to Erica’s post by suggesting (after a much-deserved break!) teaming up with other LGBTQ-media people for promoting lesbian-Japanese media since shouldering the burden alone didn’t work and not enough other Japanese-media people were interested.

      Now you gave me a reality check about the ALC already selling through feminist/lesbian bookstores and about the economics for other LGBTQ-media people, which is a downer, but did spare me making a stupid comment so thank you Morineko.

  27. Steven Meredith says:

    My deepest apologies that things had to turn out like this. I know it’s not my fault personally but that feels like the right thing to say since, as a member of the Yuri community, I always feel a twinge of guilt when I see the reasons things have come to this happening in front of my eyes. People sharing rips of the actual JManga translations, people asking where they can get scans of Aoi Hana now that JManga wont’ be shutting them down, hell just the jerk a few replies up talking about the “real” Yuri community. I feel guilty because it’s such a stark reminder that I’m just a single person and all I can do is buy my own copy and hope that the voices I’m seeing are the minority. It’s really frustrating and I can only imagine how much worse it is for you, when you’ve put in so much more than just good consumer behavior to trying to make this work.

    Thank you for everything you’ve done up to this point and thank you for however long you continue to do Okazu. I dearly appreciate having it to follow every other day or so.

    • Hi Steven – I understand what you mean. The real “reason” for my decision was that even after 13 years of promotion, the western Yuri market is just too small to be sustainable. Maybe 13 years from now, I’ll give it another go. ^_^

  28. soubiyuki says:

    Having funded my own small print runs over the years, I can’t even BEGIN to imagine all the money and time and work and heart you have put into trying to give Yuri a well-deserved home in the States on a far grander scale than mine. I feel as if we can never possibly give you the gratitude you deserve for all you’ve tried to do, have done, and will continue to do. (While I’m rambling, I want to add that working with you on YM6 remains the single best positive experience I’ve ever had working a publisher and I am forever indebted to you for taking a chance on me.)

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything.

  29. Alex Hoffman says:

    Erica,

    I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated (and still appreciate) all the work you’ve done. The comics you worked on with JManga were the highlight of my experience with them, and it is a damn shame they did not do better in the market. It’s my fervent wish that one day this digital thing will work out, and that yuri manga will find a sustainable home in the US market. Until then, thanks for giving it all the energy you have.

    I still look forward to meeting you at some convention or another.

  30. This was pretty stunning news. Thank you for 13 years of excellent work, and I am sorry for how it turned out. Thanks to ALC, I discovered Rica Takashima, Eriko Tadeno, Nishi and Houjo Uko, and other enjoyable yuri mangaka. I look forward to continuing to read your thoughts on Okazu.

  31. V says:

    What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.

  32. The problem with Jmanga is that they didn’t really know what they were ment to be. A subscription service sounds more like pay a fee read all you want which was not the case. Even when they started a pay as you go payment they still missed the point of what they wanted to be.

    The other biggest issue is ownership of the manga you bought. The fact is that no download version of your goods was created so it depends on the website to be there forever which in the world of the Internet is not the case, a website may be here today but tomorrow may be long gone.

    Also reading manga off a computer screen is not the most enjoyable way to read, it’s mush easier in book format or on your mobile phone of which an iOS app was ever released and due to only supporting flash to view was unusable via a phone web browser.

    Jmanga missed the mark for what people wanted and unsure today as to what they wanted to be.

  33. Erica. I want to thank you for what you have done, and are doing. You are an asset to this fan. Okazu is one of my check daily links, I always look forward to your postings.

  34. Megan S. says:

    Erica, nothing was in vane. Through you I found out about Ricca’te, I puchased a paper copy, and it was very meaningful in my life. Thank you for your hard work. Your inspiring current and future work is building off of it.

    Megan

  35. Kari Diaz a.k.a Queenofyuri says:

    It is really hard to bring the yuri market in the U.S for the sole purpose Western countries have a hard time adapting to their homosexuality as comfortably as Asia.I myself am a homosexual girl and I am a member of the church of yuri on facebook https://www.facebook.com/The.Church.Of.Yuri. Currently we have alot of support. We also want to pursade them to buy original yuri manga. We all know original yuri stuff supports the creators. More support more publishings. Its sad you put so much effort in this, we truly apreciate it. We hope to see you move on.

    • Uh, no. That’s not why it’s hard. Can everyone please just grok this – the Yuri market is simply too small to sustain the business. It’s so simple. Nothing else that fans think has any basis in reality.

      • BruceMcF says:

        There are a lot of underpants gnomes business models out there: (1) collected underpants (2) ??? (3) Profit!

        IMV, and only in broad strokes, a self-sustaining yuri manga business model without a gaping ??? gap is:

        (1) An ecosystem is established for the overseas manga market that grows the market;
        (2) The overseas yuri subsegment grows roughly in proportion to the growth in the overseas manga market as a whole;
        (3) Participate when (2) passes a threshold of viability.

        However, a small micro-niche publisher can’t accomplish (1), so its not as if a small micro-niche publisher can “do” (3) unless and until the market has evolved to that point.

        • just me says:

          ” (2) The overseas yuri subsegment grows roughly in proportion to the growth in the overseas manga market as a whole;”

          and/or in proportion to the growth in another market (that includes yuri) as a whole.

          Like,
          the overseas lesbian-media market as a whole (lesbian comics from Japan, lesbian novels from Japan, etc.)
          the LGBTQ-media market as a whole (lesbian comics from Japan, gay novels from the US, etc.)
          the comics market as a whole (Japanese comics, Korean comics, Belgian comics, etc.)

  36. Alison says:

    I was really upset to learn Jmanga was closing down, not at them it’s not their fault most people don’t want to spend money on digital manga when they can download scanlations for free. The ONLY reason I was waiting was becaue I thoght an ipad app was coming! (hard to make an app for a company going out of bussiness!) with CP and chronic pain its hard for me to sit at a computer. I have nothing agaist digital manga, in fact I PREFER digital books they’re easer for me to hold, and my whole collection is on one tiny device I’d love to have all 28 vols of red river avalable whenever I want it. and it6′s much cheaper to buy digital, which is great if it’s a dud?! Do you have any idea how much mediocre manga I’ve bought then have to find room for?!
    as weird as it sounds I think the “digital manga” idea is too new there were e-readers out for a long time but they never really took off till kindle and similar products. Im affraid to say it buy maybe most fans are too spoiled and selfish to go the digital route. I hope its just a matter of time.

    Anyway Erica thanks for the hard work I always enjoy your blog not to mention all the ALC books on my shelf!

  37. Linda says:

    Dear Erica,

    So the domino effect continues. I am sorry to hear that ALC is not able to survive this time around. Honestly I was a Jmanga supporter, and see that you Erica had some responsibility to “localizing” some of the yuri.. I want to thank you for your work. Because while it lasted.. Jmanga was my go to for yuri and I was at the tume able to read yuri that had made the cut… So thank you… Your blog and email is always great!

    • Thank you Linda. I guess a lot of people presume that this was motivated by JManga’s demise, but it actually wasn’t really. That was a contributing factor, but only one of several and it wasn’t the tipping point. ^_^

  38. desu says:

    Welp, time to give Seven Seas more money.

  39. koyo says:

    Darn, as a supporter of Jmanga and a hopeful Yuri fan, I was hoping that -something- was going come together and happen.

    Well, I know that although you are taking a step back, you will take a few steps forward. Just as I have been a hopeful fan for so long, you are too. As an Asian American, I’m sure that there will be something to bring localized Yuri in the future.

  40. Just to add myself to the list of well-wishers, I’m sorry that the market isn’t there for you to work professionally on manga anymore.

    I’ve always enjoyed the manga you’ve worked on, from “Rica ‘tte Kanji” to “Poor Poor Lips.” I’ll continue to eagerly look forward to your reviews, your thoughts, and just generally having you around!

  41. Marie says:

    Thank you Erica for what you’ve done up to this point. I knew you were planning on Rica ‘tte Kanji as an e-book but I’m afraid this is one of the first times I’ve been to your blog in several months so I had no idea it was out there. So sorry. I’m sorry yuri hasn’t been promoted to a worthy place in the market too. Eriko Tadeno’s Works is one of my favorite books that I always find a place for on the shelf despite space constraints. Best wishes!

  42. Dan R says:

    Erica,

    All I can say is that English-speaking/American culture has been greatly enriched by your efforts even where it has not returned the favor with compensation or recognition. You’re a primary resource of Yuri-related insight and our collective understanding of Yuri would have been much dimmer, much less relatable without your work. Thank you for everything you’ve done and continue to do.

    Dan

  43. Picari says:

    It’s really difficult to pin down one reason why JManga didn’t do well- I don’t like all the finger pointing and the “they were just trying to screw the fans” stuff people are doing. I used JManga, and I liked it well enough. While I prefer printed books, I loved the opportunity to get to read some really unique series in English that I doubt would’ve made it over to the US. I liked JManga’s selection a lot.

    Your blog has been incredible for me to scope out new yuri series to try. I’ve enjoyed reading it and learning about new titles I may have not otherwise known. I’m really sorry things haven’t worked out with publishing- I hope some day yuri will be a more sustainable market in the US. It really is too bad that there are so many great titles English-speaking fans’ll miss out on. :(

    A lot of people don’t realize just how much work it is to bring stuff over to the US. I really appreciate how much you’ve put into trying to get yuri more recognized over here. Even if you won’t continue working in publishing, the exposure you give yuri titles is amazing and wonderful. Thank you so much for all the work you’ve done.

    -P

  44. just me says:

    ” You know how crazy people sound when they blame hurricanes on gays and the like?”

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2781

  45. DaviaD says:

    Agh, I hate to hear that, and I’m sorry to admit I never bought any of the digital books, I’m just not very into digital so I kept putting it off (although I *do* have nice physical copies of Yuri Monogatari!).

    Here’s hoping, even if you didn’t manage it, some company does in the future, and good luck in your future endeavors!

  46. mudakun says:

    Thank You (!) again for this blog. No one who reads your work can doubt that you will continue your project, and for that many, many, many folks – even those like me who have only a vicarious interest in yuri, should all be grateful. Reading the comments puts me in fear of inadvertently saying something stupid, but the urge to offer thanks is overpowering. In a different ‘arena”, your 13 years of efforts would have won at least 3 PhD’s and offers of tenure all across the world! You have “done”, perhaps its time to..

    • Thanks, mudakun. As I said, I am exceptionally proud of all we did accomplish and yes, I probably have learned a Ph.D’s worth of obscure information. ^_^ And a business consultant’s worth. Since neither Ph.Ds or business consultants are rewarded with money in this industry I will remain just another fan. ^_^

  47. Erica Bleed says:

    I wonder if a bigger, successful convention wanted your help to make Yuri a major part of the event, with a budget and all, if that would be something you would consider? What would you think about it, and what it might take?

  48. bea says:

    A late comment, but I wanted to say a big thank you for promoting good yuri manga to the English speaking populace. I’m grateful to have discovered some titles that i would never know due to the language barrier. And nothing is a failure, per Steve Jobs, you just have to trust the dots will connect in the future. The real failure is in not even trying. I worked a couple of years in the cable industry, where we did some licensing of anime series for mass tv broadcast. And basically, the legit overseas anime licensing business is tough to turn a profit from a commercial standpoint, while a guy I’m acquainted with makes $4000+-/mth like clockwork from ads on his illegal streaming site, so go figure. Probably the way to get non-Japanese ‘fans’ to part with money is through merchandising, I’ve seen people drop $200 on one figure with no thought though they won’t pay $10 for a DVD/manga… It’s no wonder the Japanese licensors are so insular and protective of their domestic market, the Japanese fans support silently with their wallets. Anyway, thanks again for your blog and i hope you continue sharing good yuri titles for a long time to come.

Leave a Reply