I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was pretty disgusted by what I read about the State of the Manga Industry at NYAF 2008 (how come every convention BUT SDCC has one of these?). When the topic of digital distribution came up, it’s nice to say the panelists were “skeptical, at best”. If transcriptions of their statements are accurate, I would consider them closer to downright ignorant! Just because older men who’s livelihood depends on the print industry don’t like the idea of digital distribution doesn’t mean their target audience, teenagers that do more online in an hour than most of them probably do in a day would agree! Guess what guys, it’s not about YOU!
The sheer ignorance they display is in the assumption they have that digital distribution will replace book. Even as a firm believer in the digital model, I don’t believe that is going to happen. Audio books hasn’t done print in, digital isn’t going to either. And Gambos’ poor attempt at humor about holding “your Kindle up and wave it in the air” was just plain asinine. The Kindle as a lot of potential, yes, but it isn’t the “ipod of books”. Yet.
Digital books, and by extension, manga, is going to be the future. These guys can bury their heads in the sand all they want, but Publishing would do well to learn from movie and music’s mistakes. Whether it’s on a portable device, or on a computer, the point is that when kids want to read something, they want to do it NOW. They can get music and movies at the press of a button. Online distribution of video will most likely be the death of Blu-ray. It’s win over HD hasn’t gained them any ground. Publishers would be smart to start preparing now, and give the kids what they want. It will only lead to better print sales later. Why can’t they see that? It’s been shown so many times, I’m getting tired of saying it. Make online available for the immediacy, and have a buy now link for the permanent copy. Is this really so difficult? Or are they just so tied up in their outdated model that they can’t break out?
So, I have to give a load of props to Aurora Publishing for making their LuvLuv line of Josei books available for online through Netcomics.com. They have a good model, with decent pricing, no funky reader, and give people just what they’re looking for; something to kill some time. The first volume I read actually a fun read. Good job Aurora!