Audry Taylor was the creative director of Go! Comi back when it was one of the hottest small manga publishers around. Now Go! Comi has disappeared from view, and Taylor is devoting her time to writing YA prose fiction, but when it comes to topics like digital piracy and digital publishing, hers is a voice worth listening to. "Dear Publishing, manga is 3 yrs ahead of you on pirated material," she tweeted yesterday. Right now, manga publishers are going out of business. They didn't ADAPT."
She points out that publishers' biggest competitor is free comics, adding, "Consumers need powerful emotional & psychological reasons to buy your books rather than just grab the nearest free e-book." Low prices alone won't do the job.
A lot of manga readers justify reading scanlations by saying they are helping build an audience, but Taylor noted that Go! Comi's books continued to be scanlated long after they were available in English. She did point out that readers who couldn't find their books in stores had no qualms about reading them online. And she offered a five-point prescription for publishers:
(1) Make a story available world-wide simultaneously in all major languages. (2) In a digital format. (3) With perks for pre-orders.
(4) And goodies that digital pirates can't reproduce. (And yes, that's possible. Goodies they can't compete with, like author chats.)
(5) Rip off business model 4 pirate sites & one-up them. They offer a Wii raffle for a subscription to a d/l site, u offer author-signed Wii
Use the assets YOU have that pirates CAN'T have to compete with free.
She further points out that e-readers are good because it's easier to get legal than illegal content for them, and she sees regular online releases as a viable alternative to manga magazines (which don't seem to be doing too well lately). And here's her vision:
My dream pub company is multimedia + print + Etsy + Cafepress + Goodreads + Facebook + fan community. Is that too much to ask? *bats eyes*
That rolls up a lot of the positives she mentioned into a single package; it's hard to imagine getting that off the ground, but it sure would be interesting.
(Hat tip: Comics Worth Reading.)