Tokyopop has been exploring lots of different venues for its manga (publishing Hetalia on Zinio and comiXology), and now they are signing on with a competitor: Digital Manga will be publishing manga from Tokyopop's yaoi imprint, Blu, on at its eManga site.
EManga works on a points system—you buy a block of points and spend them to sell or rent books. It's all streamed via Flash, not downloaded, so "buying" a book means the reader will always be able to read it on the site—as long as she has an internet connection.
The press release (below) touts the money-saving angle: A volume of Blu manga in print retails for $14.99, while the online price is $5.99. However, the Blu titles are the most expensive manga on the eManga site; DMP's June and 801 manga sell for $2.00 to $3.00 each, and Yaoi Press titles also go for $2.00. Harlequin manga are as cheap as $1.00.
The format at eManga is a little complicated, though—most non-Blu manga are "rented," not sold. You can read the manga once for the rental price, and if you rent it again, you have permanent access to it. So for someone who wants to be able to go back and read the manga again, the effective price is double the sticker price. There is no rental option for Blu manga; pay the full price, and it's yours for good (or at least for as long as the eManga site is around).
The fact that the manga are streamed rather than downloaded is probably not a big problem for yaoi readers; my impression is that they read a lot of manga but they only read them once, like other people read romances. Yaoi tends to be one-shots, not series, so keeping up with continuity is not a problem.
One thing that struck me as I looked over the site is that Digital isn't putting many of its own books up there; many of the Digital titles are samples only. Japanese licensors are often reluctant to allow their work to be put online, but it seems odd that Digital isn't pushing harder to get the books they have licensed onto their own platform.
Gardena, CA (October 14, 2010) - Digital Manga, one of the manga industry's most unique and creative publishers, is proud to announce an online collaboration with TOKYOPOP, a leading manga publisher and pop-culture digital entertainment company. The partnership will launch with the addition of twelve new titles from TOKYOPOP's BLU Manga yaoi imprint to eManga’s online library.
The BLU Manga yaoi will be available for purchase through eManga’s online manga service, emanga.com, which streams content through an Adobe Flash player, allowing readers to access their library wherever they have an internet connection. Originally sold for $14.99 in print, the BLU volumes will be available on eManga.com for $5.99, making it more affordable than ever to read old and new favorites.
The first twelve BLU titles will include: Liberty Liberty! by Hinako Takanaga, Calling by Miu Otsuki, Croquis by Hinako Takanaga, Cute Devil by Hiro Madarame, Isle of Forbidden Love by Duo Brand, Blood Honey by Sakyou Yozakura, Love Knot by Lemon Ichijo, Madness volumes 1 & 2 by Kairi Shimotsuki, Scarlet by Hiro Madarame, Secretary’s Love by Tohko Akiba and Stray Cat by Halco.