Role-playing exercise

One theme that’s come up a lot in recent discussion of scanlations is that publishers need to do something to concoct a widespread alternative that provides similar access to the material but with the consent of creators and, one assumes, the potential to turn the portion of the scanlation audience that aren’t currently paying customers into buyers, at least to some degree. One potential obstacle to that that particularly interests me are the creators themselves. I’ve heard that there’s a fair amount of resistance to digital distribution among manga-ka, either because they conceived their comics to be read on paper or because they’re concerned about unlimited reproduction of digital versions of their work. (Who left this barn door open?)

Now, I’ve only heard about this reluctance from a few people, but they strike me as people who are in a position to know. Still, it’s anecdotal, and I recognize that. But, running with the premise that this resistance exists to varying degrees, I’d like to ask you to engage in a little role playing. What argument (preferably diplomatic) would you make to a manga-ka to convince them of the benefits of more timely, less immediately profitable, digital delivery of their work? The obvious one is that it’s already happening without their participation or consent, and they might as well control it to whatever degree possible, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Updated: Simon Jones of the possibly not-safe-for-work Icarus Publishing blog cuts to the chase and asks “Why should publishers pay for digital rights?”

Updated: Jake Forbes, manga author, adapter and aficionado, stops by MangaBlog and takes everybody to the woodshed.

8 Responses to Role-playing exercise

  1. Eric Rupe says:

    You might be able to get a larger readership since the lower price might attract new readers who might follow their work online or possibly even be convinced to buy the physical product, depending on how much they liked it.

  2. Johanna says:

    In addition to your approach, I’d also present examples of people making more money after making digital samples available, like the scifi novels of Cory Doctorow and so on.

  3. davidpwelsh says:

    It’s definitely useful that there are some success stories in the web-to-print arena that can be held up as examples, Johanna. I know some manga-ka (like Natsume Ono) started out publishing their comics on the web, but I have no idea how big the webcomic niche is in Japan.

  4. […] David Welsh takes the more positive view of asking readers to give examples of points that might convince creators to do more with digital distribution. What argument (preferably diplomatic) would you make to a manga-ka to convince them of the benefits of more timely, less immediately profitable, digital delivery of their work? The obvious one is that it’s already happening without their participation or consent, and they might as well control it to whatever degree possible, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject. […]

  5. […] should pay for digital rights, and a lengthy comments thread ensues, while David Welsh asks readers what argument they would make to web-shy manga-kas. At Japanator, Karen Gellender questions one of Jake Forbes’s points, […]

  6. Alpha says:

    My argument would be,”You already take the risk of putting your work out into bookstores all over Japan, so why wouldn’t you like it if it was outside of Japan?”

  7. […] to take action from creators and publishers to effect change.  David Welsh of the Manga Curmudgeon asks readers for suggestions on how to convince creators and publishers that they need to do something. But why […]

  8. Gerrett says:

    The more people that know about the work the better the chance that they will actually buy the work. So if you distribute to the people that are hesitating to buy a physical item, they might like it and then turn around and buy the book.

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