Tech Friday: Second Class Citizen

A few weeks ago I gave Viz kudos for finally realizing there was a market for digital manga beyond the iOS platform. Their announcement of and tagline of “Buy It Once Read It Anywhere” seemed like a dream come true. Finally, I could start reading and owning digital manga. I thought Viz had really gotten the idea of “manga for all.” But after working with it, and seeing new announcements, I have come to realize the equality I thought I was getting didn’t really exist.

First, when Viz say “manga you can read anywhere,” they mean if you are an iOS user. iOS users can not only read their manga on their iphones and iPads, they can download them, meaning they don’t have to be online to read their manga. That might not seem like a big deal at first, until you try to do something like, read manga you’ve bought at work where the wi-fi is password protected, and you can’t get on the network. To me “read anywhere” should mean just that, not “only when you can get online.” I’ve paid for these volumes, I should be able to read them online or offline. There shouldn’t be a difference just because I don’t have an iOS device.

Viz is also apparently still favoring iOS users by giving them “exclusive” titles that only they can purchase and read. Just recently, it was announced that the Inuyasha Omnibus could be purchased on iOS devices only. If you’re going to make your products available, shouldn’t it be available for all? Video Game makers have learned that “exclusive” doesn’t always=sales. The only one that makes out on those is the hardware maker, and I don’t think Apple really needs anymore help with their bottom line. It was suggested that maybe the choice of exclusivity was because of the mangaka, but with Rin-Ne already online for free, and Inuyasha having been available for nearly a decade, I can’t believe that Rumiko Takahashi would want to limit her best-selling title to a small audience. Inuyasha is one of the titles I WANT digitally (58 volumes just takes up WAAAAYYYY too much space!). It was such a disappointment to hear it wasn’t going to be available to me based on platform alone.

Books spread and became popular because they could be accessed by everyone. It seems that Viz has attempted to do that, but is still treating anyone who doesn’t have an iOS device as a second class citizen of the digital world. Not cool, Viz. Not cool.

6 thoughts on “Tech Friday: Second Class Citizen”

  1. I’m not surprised about this– most major content providers have been curiously unwilling to embrace the fact of just how many platforms there are out there for digital content.

    Equally and I could be talking out of my glutimus maximus here, they may have some form of ongoing contractual requirement that they continue to provide “premium” content for the iOS.

  2. Although we can surmise that Takahashi-sensei would want to equally distribute her manga through all digital platforms, there may be some sort of restriction in place either from her or one of her representatives.

    The online platform for non-iOS users is limited in scope, yes, but I would never expect Viz to allow readers a downloadable content – giving someone a professionally translated pack of manga images on a PC where file manipulation is rampant and easy just seems like a losing bet when some 2-bit wanker can just get on the web and upload it to a scanlation site.

    It isn’t “fair” in the sense that iOS users can download their content, but iOS doesn’t have a way to easily pirate these images onto the web from an iWhatever. I think it is a matter of feasibility in that regard. Is it the best? No. But Viz has delivered the service to a platform rife with the problems they have to fight as an industry in order to survive.

  3. @Alex – The only problem I have with that argument is the glaring “analog hole” that already exists and will continue to do so as long as books are printed. A scanlator can easily scan in a book and put it up online. If fact, that what people are doing all the time anyway. It’s kind of silly to say that keeping web users from d/l in the manga is stopping piracy, because it isn’t. It’s just punishing those of us who are trying to do the right thing by buying it. It’s a form of DRM that doesn’t work. Yes it’s harder to pirate from iOS but not impossible, and it’s just a false sense of security to think so.

    And what happens to me, as a web/android user if Viz goes out of business/takes down it’s website? I’m still out of luck on manga I’ve purchased, because they won’t let me d/l it because they think I’ll post it somewhere else. It’s bad business besides being just plain wrong.

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