Digital Manga Asks Fans to Pre-Purchase for Advance Yaoi Copies

Digital Manga Publishing has announced a “Pre-Order/Demand for Publication Web-A-Thon“. Basically, fans can get advance copies of selected yaoi titles by committing to buy months in advance, effectively paying DMP’s print bills for them.

All You Need Is Love

The only title announced so far is the novel All You Need Is Love. It’s scheduled for release at the end of January 2010, but if DMP gets $3,500 before the end of September, those pre-purchasers will get the book at the end of October.

If they get the money earlier, the “book will be printed and copies will be sent off to those who have participated in this program immediately.” If they don’t get the money by the deadline, then the book keeps the original release date, and those who pre-ordered are sent the book then.

All of this is being handled via PayPal, which makes me nervous. There are certain guarantees that protect the customer, but they’re often time-limited, and with such advance timing, the buyer may lose those protections if anything goes wrong. There seems to be no mention of refunds if the purchaser changes their mind. Or what if someone moves before the books are shipped? Brigid has some additional points, about yaoi fans being the right group to start with because of their dedication, and wondering whether the quality will differ.

DMP has reason to encourage ordering direct from them — they get the full cover price instead of having to give half of it away to distributors. And I guess devoted fans may find that getting a desired book three months early is worth tying up their money for that time. On the other hand, this seems like another example of pushing responsibility onto the customer: “You want it? Put your money where your mouth is.”

Would you be willing to preorder an anticipated book this way?

16 Comments

  1. This is how many American doujinshika have always been able to sell their books – offer pre-orders to collect print costs and then send off the books when they arrive.

    This isn’t a new concept at all to Yaoi fans. :) I must admit, seeing it coming from a publisher is a bit strange – but times are tight? They know the fandom is familiar with this sort of sales-method, and so they’re not hoisting something alien on to them.

    ^_^v

  2. Oh, that’s neat to know. I wasn’t aware it was so common in that fandom. It’s rare to see a widespread trust-based activity these days.

  3. David Oakes

    The “Hostage” model, where the book is released when the number of pre-orders meets minimum print run, is also pretty common among small Role-Playing Game companies and self-published SF/Fantasy authors. The communities have always been pretty tight, going back to ARPAs and Fanzines, but the addition of PayPal has made it (conceptually) easier to through money at it than time.

  4. I think this might stem from trust issues; BL fen aren’t happy these days about the state of licensed BL and one publisher in particular that’s ignored and outright abandoned them. I think playing the ‘fandom’s publisher’ card is pretty slick.

    Asking for ‘production cost help’ has been a staple of fan-book makers for years [if you want your Naruto fanbook – please pre-pay or they don’t get printed]; it’s easy to be upfront with fellow fans about the accounting of it all, because that’s what doujinshika are–fellow fans with the talent to make comics. It’s not considered unpro behavior because you’re a fan making fan-books for other fans. How BL fen will take a ‘pro publisher’ doing this, will be interesting to see.

    Now the only problem I see is Paypal.

    While it is one of the most common ways fen get their doujinshi and manga from Ebay, from a creators perspective – they have this very strange ‘no selling of adult material’ clause, in which they can effectively shut down an account even if there are funds in it, without offering a refund to the account holder–for violation of this rule. This rule and how they enforce it has always been around–making paypal a minefield for doujinshi makers. I know we [and other doujinski makers] were always aware of it, but we got around it–and one way to do that was by not announcing ‘hey buy our yaoi books using paypal’. :/ Many creators sold exclusively on eBay in order to get around paypal’s TOS rule because technically you’re charging for an ‘auction sale'; but eBay changed their ‘buy now’ listing rules [limiting them severely unless you purchase a storefront account] which affected how doujinshika could list their books.

    I suspect that DMP/JUNE is just selling ‘pre-orders’ via paypal, and not the actual books? You’re buying a ‘pre-order slot’ through paypal – not the actual yaoi manga–which would violate Paypal’s TOS? :)

  5. DMI is offering a novel for sale, so that doesn’t violate PayPal’s TOS because novels don’t fall into those “adult materials” categories. What DOES violate PayPal’s TOS is the fact that DMI is taking money for something that doesn’t exist yet. According to PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy, #3d: You may not use the PayPal service for activities that: relate to transactions that (d) are for the sale of certain items before the seller has control or possession of the item. That includes pre-orders.

  6. @Vicky Good point.

    I read their post carefully – it’s worded carefully. I suspect that when you pay for this using paypal, you’re paying for membership in ‘the program’.

    It’s likely each title up for order will be listed as a ‘[title]program’ and that you’re paypal purchase will be processed as a ‘membership’ [or something like this]; because they say once the ‘membership goal’ [amount needed] is reached, then the title goes to print and members will be rewarded for your membership with ‘THIS TITLE’, early.

    I’m not an employee of DMP, so I can’t speak for them – but I know my way around ‘ze paypal’. :)

  7. UPDATE: Just got an email from friend – there’s been some changes to Paypal’s Seller requirement in regard to Rule 11 – at .4 it no longer states only: “You must ship the item within 7 days of receipt of payment.” It now says:

    “You must ship the item within 7 days of receipt of payment. Or, if the payment is for pre-ordered or made-to-order goods, shipment is required within the timeframe specified in your item listing.”

    :)

  8. @Tina… I think the pre-ordered or made-to-order policy is for eBay only.(I think) PayPal has different policies for companies who sell products through their websites. And there are US laws that prohibit companies charging people’s credit cards for goods more than 30 days before they ship.

    I’m just wondering what happens to those payments if for any reason Digital Manga goes out of business? 4-7 months is an awfully long time in an economic period where the manga industry in general is not doing well.

  9. @Vicky

    I don’t think Digital Manga is going anywhere because this is the second move on DMP’s part [breaking exclusivity with Diamond most recent] that shows Digital Manga trying to scale back sensibly when it comes to ‘editions’ that aren’t their biggest sellers. This looks to me like they’re trying to avoid doing away with BL Novels by allowing fans of those BL novels [they are just a small part of the overall BL fandom here] to determine what they want to read and what June should release. A Pre-order program is the best way to do this, because polls are no way to determine how much money you should spend on a print run, and what you should license.

    :)

  10. @Tina – oh really? I hadn’t heard that Digital Manga was breaking their contract with Diamond. Do you have a link?

  11. Sure – but there’s a bit of strangeness going on – so this is likely the best link to get the info from:

    http://tinyurl.com/lwe555

  12. Many small wargame companies also have pre-order policies. One example is GMT Games’ P500, where buyers pledge to buy a game (there is no prepayment) that is only published once 500 pledges are reached. Each pledgee’s credit card details are on record with GMT, although prior to actual notification of the charging a pledge can be withdrawn.

  13. […] could happen as much as a quarter (4 months) ealier than expected.  Johanna at Comics Worth Reading wondered if Paypal is going to be a dealbreaker for the publisher’s book printing, but I have a few thoughts to the […]

  14. […] Vice, Gia talks to Digital’s Michelle Mauk about their pre-order plan. Johanna Draper Carlson weighs in as well at Comics Worth Reading, and Alex Hoffman gives his take at Manga […]

  15. […] marginal titles. Digital is a small company and they have tried a few things in the past, such as asking fans to pre-order a book to speed up its release. Regardless of the merits of his latest idea (and it's a mixed bag, […]

  16. […] promises were fulfilled. (And they were trying to move funding to their customers even earlier, offering preorders to secure sales as far back as […]

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