MANGA POVERTY #16
tl by danluffey
It was always my dream to become a mangaka. However, the job of being mangaka proved to be too harsh a climate for me.
The unreasonable nature of the manga industry frustrated me beyond belief, and pushed me so far that I started up my own e-book site.
This book is a chronicle of that experience.
Currently, Manga on Web proudly stands comparatively high on the list of e-book sites where users can make contributions.
Are we making a profit? It all depends on what we have left after paying all the management costs. We aren't making big money.
When I was in the process of writing this book, Kodansha infringed on my copyrights in regards to "Give My Regards to Black Jack."
Yes, that's right. Of all things, the original publisher of "Give My Regards to Black Jack," Kodansha, entrusted secondary use rights to a third party without my permission. I dealt with this matter with Kodansha in 2011, and they ended up regretting it.
I reported about the details on the internet, so if you're interested in knowing more about this issue, please check it out here: (http://mangaonweb.com/creatorDiarypage.do?cn=1&dn=32797)
A publisher's losses and an author's losses are not necessarily equal. A publisher is an independent business entity, so obviously they must value their own profit over the author's profit. However, if things take a turn for the worse, this can sometimes end up in infringing on authors' rights.
It's a given that the publishing industry is going to deteriorate more and more from here on out. The rise of the e-book industry also seems to be a certainty now. As the balance of power changes further and further in favor of e-books, I imagine we'll only see more and more of these infringements from publishing companies.
The idea of "publishing" itself, which is directly connected to the release of paper books, is really an entirely different beast than digital business.
When authors sign publishing contracts with publishers, they grant publishers monopolies on publishing rights...when it comes to paper books, at least. Contracts for e-books and e-publishing are completely different. And now, publishers are trying to monopolize digital business as well, of course. With digital manga, copyrights only belong to the author, so they can sign all sorts of different contracts and basically do as they please. Publishers don't like this. There's profit to be made, yet they can't take advantage of it.
And so, publishers are trying to assert their "neighboring rights," or insisting on conditions in new publishing contracts that give them total monopolies over all digital content. They're trying everything they can to monopolize digital rights.
"Unless you grant us digital rights, we cannot protect your rights or enact measures against piracy" is what their official stance is. And there's some truth to that.
But it's also true that publishers would never do anything unless there was something in it for them.
When only paper media existed, authors had no choice but to join hands with publishers, so maybe in a way, it was relieving to be able to entrust everything to a single company. Now that we're in the digital age, though, and the internet is here, authors can move themselves. We're in a period now where authors need to make many choices, where a higher level of literacy is required of them.
For me, publishing is merely one way to get my works out to the world. I want to circulate them through paper media, but also through digital data, and then through film and TV dramas. I'm merely creating a partnership with publishers in order to get my work out to people.
Manga on Web now plays an important part in my presence on the internet. I've gotten many job offers through the site, as well.
As an author, I'm being protected by no one. I'm floating alone in a sea of entertainment. The freedom I acquired is the freedom of the wild frontier. Being able to walk anywhere you want to isn't really as free as you might think. Wandering around without a plan will only lead to exhaustion.
As a manager of the site, I need to protect the people who've taken part in it. I have no freedom there, and the responsibility I bear is great. I think about it sometimes.
"Being a caged bird and being free, which is truly better?"
In the end, though, I know I'd still rather walk on my own two feet.
-March 2012. Sato Shuho