American Manga Publishers: Doing It Wrong

Let’s start this post with some honesty: Currently, the manga publishers of America are treating their customers like idiots.

We are expected to sit on our hands for the year gap between a Japanese tankoubon release and the English release of a volume. Then, after we pay $10.00 (or more!) for these English releases, we are supposed to remain completely unaware of the fact that the translations are inaccurate, content has been omitted for the sake of making things easier for the proofreaders, and the extras (such as interviews with characters, the mangaka, etc.) have been left out entirely. Of course, we are expected to be entirely ignorant of these issues, because we (presumably) speak nothing but English, and don’t know what the Japanese versions of these productions offer.

Secondly, the marketing methods the publishing companies are using are alienating to the general public, and negate the fact that manga in Japan is a medium. There is something for everyone, for every walk of life, and every age; however, American publishing companies have created the mentality that manga is something meant for the fringe components of society, and is working actively to make this fringe demographic their customer base while alienating every other prospective audience member who does not follow the stereotypical “obsessed otaku” mindset.

I am beyond frustrated with the way the industry is handing the scanlation situation. No amount of effort on the part of the publishing companies will eradicate online distribution, because the fans have been driven to it. Customers want instant gratification. Taking a year to get a single book out the door, and then having that volume be full of inaccurate and subpar content, is not an effective model.

As a demographic, anime fans in the US have grown up. We know that we don’t have to sit at the doorstep like desperate dogs at the butcher shop, because we have found out that they are not the only source. They are charging us for low-to-mid quality product, when we can get high-quality versions of the stuff for free.

It takes a team of people on the internet one night to translate, typeset, proofread, and clean a chapter. Why does it take paid professionals a year to do a poor imitation of the same job? Where are our color pages? Where are the interviews? Where are the extras, the omake, the quality that should be the pride and joy of a company’s releases?

Yen Press is the closest to realizing what fans want. The monthly releases of chapters leading up to a volume, the format that is similar to the Japanese publications– but the translations are still lacking in accuracy, and releases are grossly delayed between Japan and the United States.

We want the product that is being released in Japan, when it is being released in Japan, in our language. The manga publishers of America need to adapt to a new age of distribution and content, or get used to the fact that they will be losing profits.

I would love to see the companies prove me wrong. However, they are making it very obvious that they are set in their ways, and like the newspaper industry, it will only be a matter of time before they sink.

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