Digital Manga Goes Digital

Digital Manga, publisher of mostly yaoi and some “how to draw” books these days, has announced that their publications will be available to read online at emanga.com. They’re calling it a “manga rental site”, which means you pay for points which you then spend to read the books. Online only, using a Flash viewer. Brigid evaluates the interface, calling the reader “a little fussy”.

eManga logo

Even more creatively, the rentals are time-limited. At current rates and settings, it’s $4 to read a yaoi volume for 72 hours. At Barnes & Noble, reading is free… but more bookstores are cutting back on manga titles, especially yaoi, since it’s sensitive material and often age-restricted.

I’m not sure who the audience for this is — teens who can use a credit card online (to buy the points — although that function is not yet available) but aren’t allowed to order from Amazon? Those who can’t visit a library for some reason? This seems like an effort where the benefits to the publisher are clear, but the pluses for the customer are hard to determine.

13 Comments

  1. This seems much like the current Wowio and other eBook websites without nearly the benefits they offer.

    I’m not a big manga fan. I like it, and have purchased many titles in the past. However, I don’t like it any more than other genre/styles/formats available today.

    In fact, with the current habit of printing the pages and word balloons in the reverse order (similar to the Japanese versions), my eyes go nuts when I try to read them. I CAN read them, but it is not at all a pleasure to do so.

    I say our versions are similar to the actual versions because of the copromise of allowing us to still read the words from left to right (thank you), even though the balloons appear from right to left. If we were to make our manga books totally faithful to the originals, we would have the words running from the top of the page to the bottom.

    I think my poor old western-trained eyes would pop out completely. :)

  2. I’m still not sure why media sites can’t seem to get into their head that the only way you’ll be able to make money online is to make content free but market the heck out of advertising!

    For four dollars to read a volume of manga online for only a few days, there’s no way I’d pay. Especially when you can get used volumes at half price book stores now for the same price! And those you get to hang on to for as long as you like and not be tied to your monitor. If publishers are determined to make people pay to read their content online (sans advertising), they should charge at the usual price they charge wholesale sans cost and offer the ability to download and keep the file for reading again later.

    If somebody is determined to steal and distribute pages, they’ll find a way to do it. Using a flash player doesn’t stop people from taking screen captures! (though word to Brigid on the fussy interface)

  3. Rivkah,

    You’ve made some good points. I especially like, “you can get used volumes at half price book stores now for the same price! And those you get to hang on to for as long as you like and not be tied to your monitor.”

    I have a lot of eBooks – but not of titles I can easily purchase in print.

    I’ll always prefer reading a book I can hold in my hands over one I have to read on a monitor. While it’s nice to read a eBook on my computer during a break, nothing compares to having a book I can carry and read wherever I want.

  4. Thanks, Dave. :) If I were Digital Manga (or any number of comic companies trying to make it online right now), I would put advertising between the pages of content so that readers were forced to seem them–same as television commercials.

    Search out venues relevant to the subject matter. If it’s a story about two marine biologists who fall in love, seek out advertising from a sea-side University. If it sports lots of cool clothes and accessories, go with fashion related ads. If it’s sci-fi/fantasy related, go to the sci-fi channel or look for the latest movies and contact the advertising/marketing department to see if they’re interested in advertising.

    Set up either a page hits or a click-through rule. Online, it’s easy to keep track exactly how many people are seeing your ads so you’re never paying too much and the publisher is never receiving too little.

    I think there are lots of ways to get creative with making money in online content, but mimicking the print or rental market is definitely not it. Because of current television standards, the American market has come to expect that if they’re getting something for free, then they’re going to have to suffer through at least a few commercials, but commercials work and Americans buy more brand products they’ve seen played on TV played over and over again than is probably really healthy for them.

    And IMHO, advertising money makes FAR more money than selling it direct ever could. That also means the creators of these comics should potentially be making more money as well. The difficulty only lies in convincing the people paying for the ads, and showing them through number of hits and visits that it works.

  5. Then you go and offer a paid “ad free” version as well for the specialty market of those who just get fed up with the ads. ;) (or just offer POD for those who REALLY want a title in print that isn’t making enough to justify a large print run)

  6. POD as in “print on demand” (ie, books that are printed on a single book-by-book basis) for those not in the know. :)

  7. I like your POD method for online comics.

    While the advertising within the story (which can’t be skipped) might make sense from a business standpoint. I would pass on them because I hate commercials.

    This is one of the reasons I buy DVDs of my favorite shows. Yes, sometimes they have ads (for other shows) at the beginning of the disc but these can be skipped and there are no interruptions during the show itself.

    If advertising is to be used, I feel it should be at the beginning of the digital program. When I got Wowio eBooks supported by advertising, I always noticed the ads as they came up as the eBook was activated. Sure I skipped them, but after glancing at them several times (through different books or re-readings) I eventually knew what they were about.

  8. “This is one of the reasons I buy DVDs of my favorite shows. “

    LOL. Word to that. Yet while there are people like us who prefer to pay for a solid version of content (that we can hold in our hands) that is ad free, there’s another kind of people who wouldn’t be caught dead buying something they know they can otherwise get for free, with or without commercials. Or people who just can’t afford to buy the content but would still find certain products in the advertising worthwhile, such as food products (something you can’t do without but have a choice in type and brands) or university/military/job opportunities that they feel like would pay off in the long run (or make a person more money).

    And I have to admit, that while I pay for comics (and that limited because I’m living on an extremely tight budget at the moment and on a deadline at that!), I would probably take the alternative and read ad-based content for free online if it were a series I enjoyed but couldn’t afford to buy.

    Then the question moves on to: how do the creators get paid for advertising on their content? Something I’ve been asking Tokyopop about their move to online content for a while . . .

  9. I like owning items — I prefer DVD over iTunes video, for example — because if you change your mind, you can resell them.

  10. As for your excellent question, Rivkah, I think currently, the answer is “they publish it themselves on their own website”.

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