November 15, 2010

Bringing the pirates on board

Only a tiny fraction of the almost $4 billion manga market in Japan is licensed and published in the U.S. every year (to say nothing of the backlist). As a result, websites that host "scanlated" (scanned and translated) manga have become a major source of supply to meet the growing demand by manga fans.

Acknowledging the considerable sweat equity contributed by these literary pirates, Hikaru Sasahara, CEO of Digital Manga Publishing, is offering a path to legitimacy by outsourcing the localization of manga to these same "scanlators." An opportunity to work on duly acquired properties for a share of the profits.

[Digital Manga Publishing] will work with the localizers and the publishers. [DMP will monitor] the quality of the finished product. We all agree to get paid via revenue shar[ing] when the books are read online, or sold as print editions. We all share in the revenue.

Sasahara has also proposed a new licensing model, stating that "tedious negotiations" with "very slow" companies and "prohibitively expensive" licensing fees, not piracy, are the biggest impediments to growing the U.S. market. Under the new model, publishers will also agree to take a percentage on the back end.

Sasahara explains this new publishing arrangement in an online video at the website hosting this new effort. [Disclosure: I freelance for DMP as a novel translator under the traditional work-for-hire model.]

UPDATE: Sasahara describes how the project is proceeding as of 12/7/10.

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Digital hoarders and literary snobs
eBook suicide
What the market will bear

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