Right Idea, Wrong Model

September 25, 2008

You all know I’ve been pushing for getting manga online.  It’s something I believe it, and think can really succeed, but only if it’s done right.  But, I’m sorry to say, Digital Manga Publishing isn’t doing it right.  And it’s not because most of their “launch” titles are YAOI.  DMP makes it’s bread and butter off of BL, which hopefully is what helps supports it’s non-BL line (the Vampire Hunter D manga, etc).  It’s the way they’ve decided to make it available.

DMP has chosen the subscription model for digital content.  You “rent” a title for 72 hours for about $4 ($3 special for launch it seems), and then, if you really like it, you can “buy” the book for another $2.  In other words, on the second purchase you have unlimited views of the title.  Here’s where I’ve got the problem.  You have just spent $5-6 on a title, which, granted is half the print cost, but you don’t get to actually download it.  It stays on their servers, and you can read it anytime, through their thoroughly annoying, flash based viewer.

All you are doing with this model is purchasing the rights to view a title for as long as the eManga servers are around.  If anything happens to eManga, or even their records, you’re out of luck.  This is meant to be DRM, a way to “protect” their property from being stolen.  But that’s not what it’s going to do.  In the long run, it’s going to hurt the honest people who buy from eManga, thinking their titles will always be there to read.  Don’t think so?  As Google Video users, or Yahoo Music users, or Microsoft Music users.  Thousands of people bought into this strategy with these companies and eventually got screwed when the services were discontinued as the model proved not viable for the companies.

I really can’t see this model being all that tenable.  Unless you are someone who doesn’t want to keep the titles, and just read them, then this might not be such a bad deal.  It would be like borrowing the books from the library, or renting a movie.  But you can’t think it’s going to be any more than that.  Don’t go in for that second purchase.  There’s nothing unlimited about it.  If you really like the book enough to want to read it again and again, then buy it.  But don’t get suckered into that second online buy.  In the long run, It’s like throwing money away.  You can control what happens to your physical copy, but you can’t control what happens to eManga or their records/servers.

I really had high hopes for DMP and eManga.  I really did.  I really believe in the digital model for content.  But not like this.  They’ve got the right idea, just the wrong way of doing it.

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3 Comments for this entry

  • mimo says:

    i would also like to add that $5-6 per title, even if they did issue the download, is not a good deal for e-content. at all.

  • Tina says:

    i would also like to add that $5-6 per title, even if they did issue the download, is not a good deal for e-content. at all.

    Ok, I’m curious about this comment. Because it’s e-content, and not print– do you think it should be cheaper? When it comes to Japanese licenses, the company still must pay a percentage per book sold to the mangaka/rights holder; just because there’s no massive overhead like printing–doesn’t mean that the pricing should be a $1 a download because no one is printing it. :(

    There’s bandwidth charges, licensing royalties, and writing the hard files to digital– none of this free, just because the book isn’t printed on paper and sold in stores. :(

    Not trying to flame or anything, but I see this attitude come up alot– that eContent should be drastically reduced in price…but the truth is, it still took the artist the same amount of time to draw it, and that artist still wants a proper percentage from licensing. :)

  • Compared to other e-content, it is more expensive. Songs can be purchased for $.89-99 a song, $9.99 for full albums. TV shows are $1.99-2.99, or streamed for free with commercials. Movies are $3.99-4.99. Even within online manga, Netcomics is only $.10-.25 a chapter, making a full volume no more than $1.50-2.00. This is most like where the attitude comes from.

    Of course, DMP’s DRM probably added a lot more to the cost than just the things you mentioned. Coming up with their flash player and converting the books to be read in it is probably about half the online price.

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