Tag Archives: ebooks

Tokyopop and the Sony e-Reader

I don’t hang out at Tokyopop.com anymore, but I still get all their newsletters, just to keep abreast with what’s going on.  In the newest newsletter, there is a poll about e-books.  Which would you prefer?  Apple iphone, Sony e-Reader, Amazon Kindle, or none, reading paper books.  Accompanying this in the newsletter is a video of a comparison review of the e-Reader and the Kindle.  Viewing the video shows Tokyopop’s bias for the e-Reader (as that is where they have OEL manga available).  The influence of this video seems to be reflected in poll, as the e-Reader has the second most votes, and most for a digital device.

I have to hand it to Tokyopop for continuing to show some support for ebooks and the e-Reader.  With it’s recent problems, publishing books electronically can be a good call to keep the fanbase happy while Tokyopop struggles through these tough times.  It could also help to grow ebooks, in the same way that they did with OEL. If they would keep their books updated and make them easy to get, they might just make ebooks successful.

Continue reading Tokyopop and the Sony e-Reader

The iPod for Books?

6032-newsweekkindle.jpgThe Kindle has been getting a lot of press lately. It was feature on the cover of Newsweek, it’s back ordered because of the demand, but is it really all that the hype is making it out to be? And what’s this going to mean to manga and other j-media?

The Kindle is Amazon’s entry into ebooks. Since Amazon sells books, this seems to make sense. The Kindle uses a new technology know as “electronic paper”. It uses black ink, in a way similar to an etch-a-sketch, to electronically charge the ink so that it clings to the screen. This gives the appearance and readability of paper without the flicker or glare of a computer screen. It has wireless connectivity that makes getting books and other files fast and easy. No need to search for a WiFi hotspot. Anywhere Sprint service is available, so is your Kindle. You can buy and download books from the Amazon Kindle Store with the keypad at the bottom of the reader. It comes with an account and email address for your purchases and correspondence. You can also download magazines and daily newspapers, so no more paper cluttering your house or needing recycling. It can receive blog feeds, and you can email yourself pdfs, word documents and pictures. Even in this first generation, the Kindle looks to be revolutionary. So what’s to stop it from taking the world by storm?

kindle.jpgIt’s certainly not perfect. It’s priced way too high. The reader itself is $399.00. There are no wireless charges, but each book costs $9.99, magazine and newspapers have subscription costs, and even blogs and email will hit your pocket book; $2.99 and .10/ea respectively. It has some design problems, and it needs to work on formatting for pdfs, but these are minor issues.

The bigger problem is one for ALL E-reader devices; convincing people to use an E-reader. E-readers have been around for quite a while now, since about 2001. And in all that time, the sales haven’t yet hit 100,000 units. This isn’t a good track record for E-readers. Lots of the bells and whistles aren’t going to push sales if the basic reading experience doesn’t compare to reading a print book. People expect electronic devices to be the same or better than the regular experience. If E-readers and ebooks are to succeed, they have to do this. They have to make people believe that holding an electronic device is just as good as holding a book, and that the electronic experience is going to be better than feeling the paper in your hand and turning the pages yourself.

Despite these problems, I think the reason the Kindle has gotten so much hype is that it is loaded with potential. The basic technology isn’t new. It’s the way that’s it’s be used that’s really captured people’s imagination. Download a free preview, and if you like it then download the book! The ipod was just another mp3 player until Apple introduced the itunes store, and revolutionized the way we get and listen to digital music. If Amazon can do the same for books, then the Kindle WILL be the ipod for ebooks.

So, what’s all this got to do with manga? Nothing at the moment. Only a few manga publishers have been doing anything with digital manga. Netcomics has the most obvious model, following their Korean model of rent chapters for .25 a chapter. They have their own viewer (for copyright protection) . Tokyopop, the only other publisher that has really taken online viewing seriously, has their own viewer as well, and makes many of their original manga available.  Most of the other publishers only have previews of some of their series’ available. No one lets you download the manga to keep. Tokyopop has dabbled with manga downloads with the Sony E-Reader, but since the E-Reader hasn’t take off, neither has the downloads.

The best place for manga publishers to start is with light novels. We have been seeing more of these books being licensed and published. They are often serialized in anthology magazines along side manga, and they will have illustations to accompany the text. Viz has put out light novels for Ruroni Kenshin, Naturo and Full Metal Alchemist. Tokyopop has snatched up some novels that were the source of several popular manga and anime here including Full Metal Panic, Karin (Chibi Vampire), and Welcome to the NHK. Seven Seas Entertainment has licensed a few such as Ballad of a Shinigami, but they have yet to see the light of day. Since these are just text novels, there is no formatting necessary. And without the publishing costs, the prince should be able to drop as well. $5.99 would be much more palatable than the current $9.99 publishers charge. This would be the ideal place for manga publishers to start.

Even though for the initial launch, Amazon seems to have chosen to go after the businessman on the go, just imagine what the implications would be for manga if the Kindle were to become commonplace. Being able to carry whole series’ with you anywhere. Downloading previews of new titles and buying the book if you like it. Even being able to rent titles like the Netcomics model and still be able to read them anywhere and not worry about returning them or being tied to your computer! The possibilities for manga are as limitless as the Kindle. Let’s hope that the E-book’s time has finally come. Publishing’s been due a revolution for some time now. Maybe the Kindle can be the one to raise the flag and lead the way.

Edit: Fixed browser references.

Manga via Nintendo

The Japanese are doing it again. According to ANN, am3, a maker of data cards with anime movies of them for the Gameboy Advanced and DS in Japan, has announced a new system that will allow DS owners to download anime, manga and other content to SD cards and beDSvision adaptor card viewed on the DS. This new system, to be called DSvision will include a starter kit consisting of a micro SD card, micro card adapter for the DS, and USB card reader. There will also be an online store that will start with 300 titles at start up in March of 2008, that will be expanded to 10,000 by 2010. And, unlike other addons for the DS, this one is the first approved by Nintendo, and the first to have an online store tied to it.

This is definitely an interesting idea. The DS is already well established as an entertainment machine, and users have been coming up with their own hacks to put their own games and other applications on the DS. I can actually see reading manga on it as being more plausible than on an iphone. The DS has 2 LCD color screens, each 3 inches in size. This is only just slightly smaller than the iphone, but with the dual screens, full page spreads across them would be possible. Holding it on it’s side (which is how I would image reading manga on it) would also duplicate the book reading experience, something that seems to be keeping ebooks from really succeeding here in the US. Only the imagination could limit what else could be done with the dual screens and touch pad. But best of all, the DS is a LOT less expensive. Only $129 new compared to the iphone’s $299.

Of course, there’s no word yet on how much the content will be, if it will be DRM’ed, or what kind of reformatting will have to take place to view it. But manga in some sort of digital form is the future for manga. Even though print sales have been falling in Japan, online sales have been rising. So, this is a smart move by Nintendo. Even though they emphasize the gaming aspects of their hardware, it good to also recognize what the users want. And it’s becoming increasingly obvious that users want to be able to take their anime, manga and music anywhere. Adding these to a great gaming platform makes the DS what Sony wanted the PSP to be. The ultimate portable entertainment system.

Now, let’s just hope that, if the DSvision is successful in Japan, Nintendo will think it’s worth the chance to bring it here. With the hardware already established widely here, it may be easier to get people to try reading on the DS. It wouldn’t be a single use gadget, and the impulse to try would be great. I know I would. At least once.