I’ve started browsing for manga on the Kindle more lately. I don’t have as much space as I wish I did, the titles tend to be cheaper, and I can read them on my PC, tablet or over the cloud. It’s become the best platform for reading manga I could find. What makes it even better is when I find titles that are free!
Viz Media makes another move to spread its manga to other platforms as Weekly Shonen Jump finally jumps from the Vizmanga app to get on comiXology and Amazon’s Kindle. The jump to just these two platforms and not Nook, Kobo, iOS, or Googleplay is probably due to Amazon’s ownership of comiXology. Hopefully Viz will be able to announce expanding to those other platforms soon as well.
Good Idea: Putting manga on the Barnes and Noble Nook.
Digital Manga Publishing has announced that titles from their catalog will start appearing on the Nook and B&N’s newest e-reader the Nook Color. They already have titles on the iphone/itouch and Kindle. Just as they had with those other devices, they are starting with their adaptation of Vampire Hunter D volume 1. The book will be available in black and white or color (for the Nook color) and will be split in half, each half going for $3.99. I don’t know about the splitting the book in half, but getting their manga on as many of the digital platforms as possible is making them the most versatile manga publisher.
Bad Idea: Selling Subscriptions to Scanlated Manga
Two years ago I wrote an article about hacking the Kindle to view images, which could be used for digital manga as well. This article has attracted a lot of views and some comments about other programs people have created to make image viewing easier. I let a lot of these side since the technology can be used for legal images, but I have to draw the line somewhere, and the latest comment I got was that line. The link that appeared in the comment was for the site Manga on the Kindle, which claims to have over 100 manga volumes formatted for the Kindle, which are available for a $5 monthly subscription. Um….no. This is worse than the aggregator sites, since it’s soliciting money directly from people. Now, if publishers were to do something like this, that would make it a good idea.
Good Idea: Updating Your e-Reader For More Functionality
Barnes and Noble has said that the Nook Color, which is currently running on an older version of Android will be getting the 2.2 update in January. This update will give Nook Color owners access to the Android Market as well as other features. This is fantastic news for comics and manga fans, as apps come out for the Android, they will be available to use and read on their Nook Color. It will also give them the option of using their Nook Color as a full tablet, at half the price and more convenient size than the Apple iPad.
Bad Idea: Censoring e-books you’ve already sold
From the “I Wanna Be Like Steve Jobs” Department
Word has come from writers on blogs and on the Amazon forums, that Amazon has started removing erotica fiction from the Kindle store, which includes deleting the book from people’s accounts that have already purchased the books. This is one of the reasons I am hesitant about joining the e-reader revolution. When I purchase I book, I don’t want to be told somewhere done the line that I can no longer read the book I purchased. It doesn’t say “rent” on Amazon. It says “purchase”, and that should mean it’s mine until I decide to get rid of it, not when Amazon decides to back pedal on their “no censorship” stance that they claimed to have, but seems to have changed their mind about. This is especially frustrating for both writers and readers as Amazon has not clean statement about what is appropriate for the store and what is not, and they seem to be choosy about who gets to stay and who goes. Just like Apple and their Apps Store. Not a good model to emulate, Amazon.
With the holidays rushing towards us (I saw Christmas trees at K-mart across from the Halloween costumes!!), retailers are pushing out their announcements for the coming shopping season.
Amazon started with the announcement that they would be adding a lending feature to the Kindle. Kindle owners will now be able to lend their books out to other Kindle owners for a two-week period. During that time, the book will not be available to the original purchaser, and the book can only be to one person at a time, one time only. Not all books will have this feature enabled as it’s up to the publisher to enable it, just like the audio feature on the Kindle. Of course, the Kindle is only playing catch-up by adding this feature. The Barnes and Noble Nook has had it from day one. But with the e-reader market getting more competitive, the Kindle will have to do everything possible to keep itself at the top.
Especially with announcements like the Nook Color. Earlier this week, Barnes and Noble announced they would be releasing a reader tablet for the holidays. It has a full color, android-based touch screen e-reader. It’s 8.1 inches tall with a 7 inch touch screen, 8GB storage with a micro SD slot expanding it to 32GB, built-in WiFi and a promised 8 hours of battery time. It will also include a full web browser, free word and chess games, Pandora music streamed over WiFi and Quick Office to create, edit, and view Microsoft Office documents. It will retail at $249.00
Barnes & Noble will also release Nook Developer, which will allow developers to create android apps for the Nook Color. They are asking for apps that are “reader-centric” and have “engaging content”. Apps will start to become available next year. The Nook Color will also feature in store exclusives, and has some kid-friendly features that includes expanding text, zooming pictures and the device can read the story out loud.
Of the two announcements, the Nook Color is definitely the more exciting. It expands the e-reader into a more versatile device without losing sight of what its primary purpose is; to read e-books. The Nook Color fills a gap people have been feeling since the iPad came out. This device could be the bridge that a lot of people are looking for, that don’t want a big, unwieldy device that comes with a lot of baggage like the iPad, but is more than just a scaled down computer like a netbook or limited like the current generation e-readers. Of course, nothing’s for sure until it’s in the wild, but, if I were to put my money on an e-reader device right now, I would go with the Nook Color. It has the greatest potential. I hope publishers, especially manga publishers will see that potential too.
Open Mouth. Insert Foot
Get a bunch of creative people together for a gripe session, and sometimes magic happens! That’s what happened on Twitter recently as several manga creators through out their own two cents (yen) about not just illegal uploading, but the people doing it. When someone posted on twitter of having uploaded Rei Hiroe’s entire manga Black Lagoon, the mangaka, in jest, wished pancreatic cancer on the uploader. Fellow mangakas Kazuki Kotobuki and Kouta Hirano joined in, coming up with more imaginative forms of death on the uploader. Bet that guy is sorry he tweeted that. I still don’t get all this disrespect people want to show the creators of the books they claim to love. While I don’t think they need to be worshipped, how about just some common decency? Or is that to outmoded for the 21st century?
Not As Easy As It Looks
People are always complaining about the translations in manga, that it’s not literal enough, or that it’s too “Americanized”. At SDCC, several translators in the industry got together for the panel Manga: Lost In Translation panel. It features many well known translastors and was moderated by William Flanagan, who is about as old school as manga translations can get. Deb Aoki of Manga.About.Com has a full transcription of the panel. They take on topics such as getting into the business, the above mentioned dreaded localization, and of course, piracy and scans. It’s an interesting read, especially about the advocacy many of the translators have for lesser known titles.
There Might Yet Be Hope
In a recent interview with ICv2, co-publishers Dan Dido and Jim Lee spoke about the recent changes at DC, and the subject of CMX and their licenses came up. Specifically, did either man know what was going to happen to them. Lee mentioned they’d had inquiries from “a couple of interested studios that were interested in taking over the role on a couple of books.” This then brings up the questions, “Who’s asking and for what titles?” I was little surprised that this didn’t start a discussion on twitter among manga bloggers. My top pick for doing a rescue would be Tokyopop, as we’ve seen them do it before. And some of CMX’s tween titles seem like they would be a good fit with the company’s catalog. Viz has too good of a pick of he crop to be interested in some second tier titles, and we already know Yen Press isn’t interested in rescues at all, despite already doing two. So that leaves an interesting quandary as to who else might be interested. DMP? Manga Factory? A completely new player? And what titles? CMX had several licenses that had just started to release or had planned to release such as 51 Ways to Save Her and Stolen Hearts. Are these the targets of the inquiries? Will any of the old school shojo like From Eroica, With Love or Swan get to see their ends? There is some much one can speculate from just a few sentences. The good thing about all this is that DC/Warner Bros is at least interested in getting some of their investment back, and for us fans that might be good news!
Dreams of manga on an e-reader are finally starting to come true. Comicloud is a new manga magazine with titles by Japanese artists and are available in both English and Japanese on the Kindle. It’s inaugural issue is $4.99 and is available for download now. It currently features four stories and you can download a preview before you buy. Summaries of the stories are available at the magazine’s official English website. This is an e-book to watch. If it does well, it might finally prove to publishers that not only is there a market for online manga, but that people will pay for it! And one of the best things about putting it on the Kindle, is that Amazon has enough versions of their Kindle software that just about anyone, with or without a Kindle can read it. It’s not the ideal solution, but it is the best we’ve got at the moment.
NYT Best Seller List
Another week, another best seller list. This week starts with Twilight holding on to #6 on the Hardback list. Over on the manga list, Maximum Ride returns with vol 3 debuting in the #1 spot. Rosario + Vampire Season II vol 2 moves back to #2 to accommodate. Black Bird vol 5 moves back to #3 along with Naruto vol 48 to # 4. Negima! Magister Negi Magi vol 27 holds on to #5 for its third straight week, with Fullmetal Alchemist vol 23 also keeping its #6 spot. Bakuman vol 1 falls back 3 to #7 along with D. Gray-man vol 18 who moves back two to #8. Vampire Knight vol 10 keeps the #9 spot as does Black Butler vol 2 which keeps its #10. There not a lot of changes this week, the biggest being Skip Beat vol 21 falling off and Maximum Ride taking the top spot.
NYT List: Second Opinion
Now let’s take a look at the top ten titles according to Rocket Bomber’s Matt Blind:
1. Maximum Ride 3
2. Rosario+Vampire Season II 2
3. Black Bird 5
4. Naruto 48
5. Negima! 27
6. Bleach Color Bleach+: The Official Bootleg
7. Fullmetal Alchemist 23
8. Maximum Ride 1
9. Vampire Knight 10
10. Skip Beat! 21
The top 5 titles on both lists match spot on! I don’t know if this is a first, but it is an interesting result. Maybe the NYT list isn’t so off as a lot of people have suspected. This is by no means conclusive, but I do see it as being significant. All but three titles are the same between lists. Once again Matt’s list favors Maximum Ride over Black Butler, and the NYT tossed Skip Beat to keep Bakuman and D.Gray-man.
Manga For Your Ears
Sesho’s Anime and Manga Reviews
This Week at Manga Village
What I’m Reading
- MachGoGoGo: Speed Racer vol 1
- MachGoGoGo: Speed Racer vol 2
- Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass
- Gente vol 1
With Mother’s Day this Sunday, all the ads lately have been about what to get Mom. One common element I’ve seen (beyond the usual of appliances, jewelry, and gardening) is e-readers. Amazon.com has the Kindle on their front page again, touting how it’s the perfect gift for Mom. It’s $259 for the 6″ screen, and includes a wireless connection to Amazon for instant downloading (and gratification).
Sony, maker of the e-Reader, has been pushing it’s low end reader, the Pocket Edition, which has the least number of features. You can find this device at Office Depot, Staples and Best Buy going for $149 through Mother’s Day. You have to connect it to a computer to get the e-books on it, but it also now comes in a “special” pink edition. Ooooo…. Yeah, I’m not impressed by that either. I’ve looked over the Pocket Edition, and wasn’t really impressed with it compared to it’s price. But it’s the least expensive e-ink device out right now.
Then, I found out about a new device. The Aluratek Libre e-Reader. It’s a low tech e-reader, that’s also low priced. Online it can be found for around $150, but K-Mart will have it for only $120 through this weekend. It has all the basic function of an e-reader, but the big difference on this device is that it doesn’t use e-ink. It’s actually a black & white LCD screen they call e-paper. The plus about this is that there isn’t the flash that e-ink devices have on page turns, and it’s still fairly quick. It also can view images and play mp3s, even while you’re reading, something the other don’t do. It comes with a 2Gig SD card with 100 public domain books on it to start. It’s rather stripped down like the Sony Pocket Edition. What makes this a better device (to me) is the SD card slot, and lower price. With the Libre, you can have different SD cards for different reading material. One for e-books, one for images (or comics), and one for audio books (or mp3 if you perfer. That makes this a more versatile device, even if it can’t go online.
For someone that just wants to read ebooks and doesn’t need a backlit screen, dictionary, make annotations, or go online, you know like the experience a paper book gives you, this actually looks like a pretty good deal. It’s not difficult to use, so non-tech savvy moms that want to get in on the e-book revolution can with little work. Aluratek also has a step-by-step guide to getting books from ebooks.com, and comments on product reviews of this device suggest that it will read ebooks borrowed through libraries. Here’s a fairly thorough review of the device:
Think carefully about what your Mother would want and/or could handle. Don’t buy what you think she would want. An e-Reader is a personal device, much like a book. It needs to be tailored to the reader’s needs. Don’t go for all the bells and whistles just because that’s what YOU would want. You want what you give Mom to be used and appreciated, and not left in the box, stuffed in a corner of the closet because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by returning it or giving it away. It’s Mother’s Day for a reason. Make sure it’s something she wants.
I’ve decided that Fridays at Manga Xanadu will for now on be Tech Friday! I’ll post all my tech/gadget type stories on this day from now on. To inaugurate this, let’s take a look at the newest story about the Kindle; it’s getting apps.
That’s right. You can’t have a device that connects to the net anymore without having some sort of app store to go with it. And the Kindle is apparently no different. With CES just recently past, and the Apple iMyth–err iSlate to be announced next week, Amazon has to do something to keep to not only stay competitive, but keep their e-Reader on top, with a wave of new devices threatening to wash them away. And apps is the new, hip thing.
This year is being touted as the year of the slate computer. CES was filled with announcements of new computers that are like over-glorified e-book readers. Of course, e-book readers are also being announced right and left. This Christmas was Amazon’s biggest year for the Kindle so far, and claimed that on Christmas day sold more e-books than print. But the worth of e-readers like the Kindle and Sony’s E-Reader are being questioned. Well, more specifically, the E-Ink technology they use is being questioned. E-Ink techonogy is one of the main reasons prices for e-readers remain high. So, is E-Ink worth the price?
Having a wireless connection on an e-reader has been touted as the make-or-break deal for devices coming out. Amazon’s Kindle, which started it all, has been favored because of the ease of purchasing books from Amazon and downloading to the device. But, what are you really giving up for that privilege? A lot of your privacy it seems. As reported on BoingBoing, the EFF, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, took a look at e-reader terms of service for some of the most popular devices, and has made a chart showing who wants what, and what you’re giving up for that digital books online.
Google seems to be the worst of the privacy invaders, requiring users to have a google account so they can be tracked though Web History, and requires “opt-ing in” for sharing personal information with Google. Amazon the next one down, doesn’t sell you books as much as it licenses them to you. And they give themselves a lot of room for keeping track of users use of the Kindle, including their interaction with the device and service as well as conent.
Devices such as the Sony e-Reader, which doesn’t connect wirelessly (yet), has no such use agreements, leaving the user free do and put on their device what ever they want without fear of being tracked or spied on.
If privacy is a concern for you, you’ll want to look more closely at this report and read the user agreements carefully before you press that buy button. Privacy is already under attack for some many other sources. You shouldn’t have to worry about your books spying on you too.
Another manga publisher has jumped on the Kindle bandwagon. Seven Seas has announced that some of their titles will now be available for purchase on the Kindle. It’s good to see manga publishers embracing e-books, but I would hope they are looking not just at the Kindle/iPhone, but beyond at the other devices that are coming out. Soon.
Kumoricon, Portland, Oregon’s anime/manga/all thins J-popish was this last weekend. John Thomas, a local and reviewer for Comics Village, was there for two of the three days and gave reports on the announcements, mostly from Dark Horse, as they are also local to the area. The big announcement from Kumoricon though came from Jason Thompson. His magnum opus, Manga: The Complete Guide will continue online. Starting September 15, a new review of a series will go up once a day for 365 days (that’s one year) at Suduvu.com. Jason will also be giving away 5 manga a day to some lucky commentor a day. Go here for all the detials.
We knew it was in the works, and now Sony has unveiled it. The third e-Reader in their hardware line, the Reader Daily Edition. Sony announced the new device on Tuesday at a press conference. The Daily Edition is different from it’s older brothers in 2 important ways. One, it has a larger touch screen, coming in at 7 in. And two, it has built-in wireless capabilities, provided by AT&T. Finally, Sony has a device that can truly compete with the Kindle! ….Maybe.