#7. I'll make my own homepage, release my own manga on it, and let all my readers purchase it there.
MANGA POVERTY #7
tl by danluffey
I'll make my own homepage, release my own manga on it, and let all my readers purchase it there.
bottom: I like paper books too, you know.
There's a difference between "official sales" and "actual sales" when it comes to magazines. Some magazines that say they've topped 1 million official sales may be fudging that number. It doesn't mean they've actually sold that many.
For example, let's look at Magazine A, a very popular male comics magazine from a big publisher who you probably all know. Their official sales number in at 400,000 copies, but the actual sales aren't even half of that.
The truth is that stocking shelves in bookstores and convenience stores with their magazines doesn't even allow them to sell half of all they've got.
In my case, with "Give My Regards to Black Jack" and "New Give My Regards to Black Jack," the actual sales of the tankoubon volumes outdid the actual sales of the magazine. (*1)
In other words, the industry model of "publishing your work in a magazine in order to advertise it to the readers and get them to buy your volumes" is collapsing. In fact, it may be changing into just the opposite - by selling my tankoubon volumes, I'm actually advertising for the magazine.
*1 line: According to the 2011 Publishing Index, comics magazine sales are diminishing with every year, and in 2010, the 559,170,000 magazines sold was a 60% decrease from the magazines sold in 1995, the peak year. Meanwhile, comic volume sales were at 468,490,000 books. The gap decreases more and more every year. As far as estimated sale profit goes, comics beat out comic magazines in 2005. In 2010, comics were at 231,500,000,000 yen, while comic magazines were at 177,600,000,000. The profit gap is widening.
Various surveys done in recent years have proved that magazine readers and tankoubon volume readers are not necessarily in the same pool. My series "Tokkou no Shima" is dominating the lowest rank on the reader popularity survey in its magazine, but it sells the most tankoubon volumes out of all series featured in the magazine.
Up until a few years ago, there existed phrases like "magazine reader" and "volume reader," separating readers into two big groups: those who read the chapters as they're serialized in the magazines and those who read the chapters that are collected in the volumes. Some authors would even start to think "I'll aim this manga toward the volume readers," while others would say "But in doing that, you'd be abandoning all your magazine readers." Since magazines have become so weak in recent times, however, those sort of strategies don't really work anymore.
Incidentally, even manga with taglines like "Over a million copies printed!!!" written on their spines haven't necessarily sold a million copies. After all, we live in a world where something known as "bestseller bankruptcy" exists: in which so many copies of a first edition are produced that they're unable to sell them all. The books get returned to the company, and they end up getting crushed under their mountain of unsold bestsellers. And even in these cases, they make sure to write "Over a million copies printed!!!" on the spines.
When I thought about getting involved with the internet, I decided that I'd "make my own homepage, release my own manga on it, and let all my readers purchase it there."
I was essentially creating a pay-to-read manga site. (*2)
That would eliminate the need to take any big risks like creating my own publishing company, and I wouldn't have to worry about managing a vault either. Perhaps I could sell one 24-page chapter for 30 yen.
If I replaced the magazine with the internet as the way to release my work, and managed to get only 1/5th of the readers I had with the magazine, I would be able to earn the same amount of profit as I did from manuscript fees. It was unfortunate that I had to sacrifice 4/5 of my readers, but I thought there was zero chance of me making absolutely no profit at all.
This would also solve my distribution problem, and I would no longer have any need for an intermediary. It made feel a little sad to know that my books would no longer be lining the shelves in bookstores, but I'd also have no more need to deal with any hard-headed publishing companies. No, wait. After releasing my works on the internet, I could still release my tankoubon volumes from a publisher, couldn't I?
The comics market had shrunk by about one trillion yen compared to how it was in 1995. I may sound like I'm repeating myself here, but all data points to the fact that the manga publishing industry is a dying one.
*2 line: Pay-to-read manga site - An internet website that sells comics as digital data. Also called webcomics. There are also a lot of free online comics, such as when some publishing companies provide samples of their comics online for free.
Before, when I had been invited to distribute my manga through cell phones, I had only declined mainly because I was insistent on staying with paper media, and felt some sort of negative reaction toward cell phones and digital media. I should have felt something similar when I considered releasing my work on the internet, but you know what they say: Necessity knows no law.
And so, I desperately swallowed down my resistance.
Even if I had chosen to release a new manga on cell phones, I would have had to deal with a cell phone company for the manuscripts. That would have merely shifted the target of my frustration from a publishing company to a cell phone company. The structural hypocrisy of the manga industry would most likely still haunt me.
With the internet, however, I felt like I might be able to handle everything on my own. In the beginning, I thought, "I'll just publish the tankoubon volumes through paper media," and convinced myself that it would be alright. Either way, I felt like I could no longer ignore the fact that everything was heading more and more toward digital media. Music had switched from records to CD, and then from CDs to downloads through PCs. Similarly, paper was in the process of being replaced by digital media.
From here on out, paper books will probably become collector's items, much like records are now. Perhaps people who read manga on the internet and people who collect tankoubon volumes will split up like magazine and volume readers. If I could just remember that my ultimate goal in publishing tankoubon volumes was to gather more people online, then I would probably be able to continue business without contradicting myself. Even if I had to use self-publishing for the volumes, as long as I could register an ISBN for them, I'd be able to sell them online bookstores (*3) like Amazon without having to go through intermediaries or actual bookstore chains.
Finally, I was starting to feel like I could handle it all on my own. At long last, my delusions were starting to take form as a realistic plan.
*3 line: Online bookstores - A website that sells and ships comics, magazines, and bookstores. Amazon is the most representative website, but there are other online bookstores run by actual bookstore chains as well.
bottom left: bam