Well folks, despite the closure of Bandai Entertainment and the downsizing of Media Blasters, there is some good news for manga in the early weeks of 2012!
Yesterday, Digital Manga Publishing announced a new Kickstarter campaign to finance the publication of the mature Osamu Tezuka manga, Barbara. Now, about 24 hours after its launch, the campaign has already made more than half of its goal in pledges. I think it’s already safe to say that Barbara is going to be published, even though the Kickstarter is 29 days away from completion. I guess it just goes to show you how popular Osamu Tezuka is becoming in America.
It also brings up an important question: Is this the new way to publish manga? So far only DMP has wandered into this new territory, but I think other publishers might not be too far behind. Heck, I thought of the idea of financing manga on Kickstarter well before the first DMP campaign started for Swallowing The Earth, another Tezuka title. Not that I’m trying to take credit for anything, but if I was thinking about it, you can bet someone else in the manga publishing biz (not just DMP) was thinking the exact same thing.
Of course, this model makes a lot of sense, especially in a time where manga publishers are keeping a tight grip on their purse strings. A publisher can essentially say to its fans, “Hey, do you want this?” with little financial consequence. Readers vote yes or no with their dollars and by helping the publisher with viral marketing. Just think about how many tweets, blog posts, etc. that excited manga fans (like me) have sent out to help ensure that the manga they want gets published. It’s a very democratic system of publishing.
So, how do you feel about Kickstarter manga? Do you not want to have to pay for more than the manga? (As you often have to do with these Kickstarter campaigns, although you do get bonuses.) Do you even want to have to vote for your manga? There are a lot of manga readers out there that aren’t connected to the online manga community at all, is it fair that they don’t get to have a say? I’d love to hear any and all thoughts and concerns.
There are a lot of questions posed by Kickstarter manga. Obviously, I think the result is mostly positive and allows fans to have more of a voice in manga publishing. I look forward to seeing what happens next with this business model and what other publishers choose to employ it.
If you want to learn a bit more about Barbara, Deb Aoki has an excellent post about the manga and the Kickstarter campaign at About.com.
I tihnk the odea makes a lot of sense because let’s face it, the manga market in English is weak right now, for a whole host of reasons. As you said, this is no risk, all reward for the potential publisher.
It has a major downside of limited print runs, excluding some countries, and no/limited bookstore presence, but I do not tihnk those matter to a publisher–or the fans who get their hands on a book like Barbara, which is odious to me but others want desperately.
I don’t know. Ben Applegate, who is the DMP editor for this Kickstarter, said that if the Kickstarter nets them a lot of money, DMP will be printing more copies. Which means that it won’t gone OOP. Also, there are a number of countries excluded whenever you print a manga in a certain language instead of another… As for the bookstores, I don’t really know. My assumption is that DMP will attempt to get copies in some stores, at least.