Mike Richardson speaks, Google ads promote pirates?

ICv2 has a four-part interview up with Dark Horse CEO Mike Richardson in which they talk about about all sorts of things, including the state of the manga market, the question of where shoujo readers will go next, and the impact of scanlation on retail sales. Start here with part one and click your way through, although if you’re only interested in manga, you can skip part four. And thanks to Journalista, here’s another interview with Mike, this one centering around Dark Horse’s recent donation of comics to Portland State University. (Art is the cover to vol. 10 of Oh! My Goddess, the series that first brought Dark Horse into my house.)

ICv2 has brought up the question of scanlations in several interviews recently, as there seems to be an increased perception among retailers that illegal online manga sites (some of which carry scanned American manga in addition to scanlations) are cutting into their business. In that context, I found David Doub’s article about Goodle ads for pirate sites to be an interesting read. While the Google exec that David contacted him assured him that they are “working diligently” to prevent ads from linking to sites that infringe copyright, I have to say that I myself have been noticing more ads for pirate sites.

In their latest podcast, the Ninja Consultants chat with Yani from Vertical and Serger from Advanced Media Networks about The Guin Saga.

The MangaCasters choose the best of this week’s new releases. And at Precocious Curmudgeon, David Welsh takes a second look at the newest releases.

Same Hat links to another chapter of Dance! Kremlin Palace! and highlights some new Japanese art-comics from PictureBox.

At Rocket Bomber, Matt Blind summarizes last week’s online manga sales and calculates the top 500.

This article about concern among adults in Viet Nam that manga is corrupting their children has a very familiar feel to it; I’m sure I linked to it or something like it before. Anyway, it’s worth a look, if only so you can enjoy John Jakala’s commentary on it.

Thanks to Manga Recon for reminding me that Tokyopop is taking a survey of visitors to its recently redesigned website.

News from Japan: Honey and Clover artist Chika Umino is one busy lady; her latest project is the cover art and a manga booklet for the new Dreams Come True CD. ANN also has the Japanese comics rankings for the past week.

Reviews: Animanga Nation’s Ai Kano is my kind of reviewer:

I love to cook and so a Shojo Beat Manga like Mixed Vegetables comes along and I’m all over it like Elvis and a banana and peanut butter sandwich.

Too bad she finds vol. 1 of Mixed Vegetables to be a dud! Snow Wildsmith checks out vol. 5 of Chocolat at Manga Jouhou. Ken Haley reads the Goth manga and contrasts it with the novel at Manga Recon. John Thomas looks at an interesting hybrid, The Akiba: A Manga Guide to Akihabara at Comics Village. Connie reads Hino Horror 9: Ghost School and Solanin at Slightly Biased Manga. Julie reads vol. 11 of Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Lissa Pattillo gets in the mood for Halloween with a new theme and reviews of vol. 3 of Psychic Power Nanaki and vol. 2 of Metro Survive at Kuriousity. Tiamat’s Disciple checks out vol. 4 of Black God and vol. 7 of Angel Diary. Sandra Scholes reviews vol. 1 of .hack//XXXX and Scott Campbell looks at vol. 10 of D.Gray-Man at Active Anime. Michelle Smith checks out vol. 3 of Akira and vol. 1 of Touch at Soliloquy in Blue. Erica Friedman judges a book by its cover and then finds out she’s totally wrong when she actually reads vol. 1 of Poor Poor Lips at Okazu. At Read About Comics, Greg McElhatton reviews vol. 19 of Blade of the Immortal after reading the entire series in a massive Blade-a-thon, which gives him some interesting perspective on this most recent volume. Ferdinand is not impressed by Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney at Prospero’s Manga. Emily checks out Royal Green at Emily’s Random Shoujo Manga Page. Tangognat can’t get enough of Black Jack. Kris reviews Candy and vols. 1 and 2 of Oh my god! at Manic About Manga.

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  1. I’m getting sick of hearing about how scanlations are the devil and the cause of manga not selling.

    Several publishers i’ve spoken to don;t agree with it. Yes it has an impact, but it’s not as big a one as the stores claim it is. Most fans end up buying the manga they like. Since they’ve had access to scanlations there’s less manga that they dont like being bought, but more of what they do like is being bought.

    Sure there are leeches out there, people that don’t want to buy anything and want it all for free. But lets face it, you get those everywhere, in every industry.

  2. I’m going to have start reporting such sites more often to Google. ._.

  3. Won’t do much. Most sites don’t use adwords because they know they’ll be taken off sooner or later. Google have already said they won’t be involved in policing actual search results, so any searches that lead to sites such as Lurk won’t be affected.

    Also, the publishers themselves can’t seem to agree on how to handle the likes of Lurk. They got together around 6mmonths ago to form a single entity that was doing to shut down lurk, but it ended up splitting after they couldn’t agree on how it should be handled. Whether to target the hosts, site owners, networks or all of them.

    Plus it would be a bit of hypocrisy on their part, since both Viz and TP (the leaders of the pack) have admited to using scanlations as a gauge of how well a possible license may do.

    Dosen’t matter what happens scanlations are here to stay, the sooner publisher accept that the sooner they can focus on making it more viable to get things legitamitly. Whether through their own form of digital downloads, increasing the number of releases, or whatever.

    Part of the problem i see is the waiting game. Several titles i recently picked up for review i’ve ended up dling scanlations for. Because i don’t want to wait over a year for the western publisher to release the volumes. Having people wait 3-4months (and in some cases 6-9) for a volume is part of the problem. There are several solutions but they simply aren’t being used

  4. Tiamat—>
    What then would be the rational for sites which scan and upload commercially available, English-translated manga?

    Also, I can’t help but notice that your site uses copyscape protection. Wouldn’t allowing anyone free reign to copy text from your blog, in theory, increase your readership? Or is there another concern at play here? Perhaps, a feeling of ownership?

  5. I see Google Ads for bootleg anime DVD sites alllll the time.

  6. I’m with Simon on this one. Some of the sites that advertise with Google AdWords are not scanlation sites, they are just plain pirates that carry scans of translated manga.

    However, I went a few rounds with Google when someone was stealing my site’s content and posting it on Blogger blogs. They made me file a written DMCA complaint for every pirated post, even though I pointed out that the sites in question were clearly violating Blogger’s terms of service, not just by using my content without my consent but by providing or linking to obviously copyright-infringing downloads of movies, games, and hard-core porn. Despite what looked to me like flagrant violations, I couldn’t persuade them to take down the sites.

  7. @Simon, thats a different ball game. When you get to stuff thats already released it gets murky.

    For example there are several titles i’ve reviewed over the years that i point blank told people not to buy and to get the scanlations. In theory the official releases should be better than the scans, but when the us publishers arbitrarily decided to do rewrites that argument goes out the window.

    Should i pay over $300 for a series of manga that has been so badly re-written that it hardly resembles the original?

    For me it’s a 2 way street. Publishers have to make the fans WANT to buy the releases by making them better than the scans. Simply publishing the titles isn’t enough. There’s a lot of lost trust between publishers and fans that needs to be rebuilt.

    As for my blog, i don’t mind if people use what i’ve wrote, so long as they link back to it, that way i do get an increase in readers. I use copyscape cause the guy who fixed the blog theme for me added it :D

    Copyscape sounds nice, but in truth it’s just another image on the theme. It dosen’t prevent people from stealing the content. Like Brigid i went through a phase of trying to get my posts off of blogger, and like her i ran into Google’s head in the sand policy. But it’s not just Google, its EVERY site like that. I’ve encountered the same attitude on WordPress.com, LiveJournal, and on dozerns of scrapers who use their own platform.

    You can’t stop them since the hosts won’t get involved. Even if you get a properrly writen notice involved. Unless you’re a mega bucks corp with a slew of solicitors they’ll just ignore you.

    However the publishers need to pull their sleeves up and get dirty. Ignore the scan scene for a while and focus on where it counts, making their product more attractive than the scans. This means better paper, better editing, better tranlations, stopping the rewrites, and increasing the number of releases.

    I’m not saying they’ll be instant fixes, they wont. In fact the damage they’ve inflicted on themselves is going to be a long time in recovery. But if they start to work WITH the fans it will recover, and over time more people will move away from scans.

  8. Tiamat—>

    “When you get to stuff thats already released it gets murky.”

    I’d like to think that’s not murky at all… =/

    “Ignore the scan scene for a while and focus on where it counts, making their product more attractive than the scans.”

    I know this isn’t your intention, but that’s a strawman argument to me. North American manga publishers *have* been ignoring the scanlation issue, possibly to their own detriment. I can’t recall a single instance of legal action being taken.

    As for economic impact, while retailers’ view on the subject is anecdotal, they are on the “front lines” of book sales, and simply cannot be dismissed on theory and conjecture alone, however reasonable a case you have presented. And as much as scanlating or fansubbing have played an integral role in building this fandom in the past, what we have to be concerned about is the present market. I’m saying this as a guy who used to watch third-gen VHS tapes in other people’s garages. Things are different now.

    Finally, regarding the accuracy of translations… as a reader, I’m sympathetic to your view, yet I cannot endorse that as a reasonable justification for continued scanlating of licensed material. I also doubt the majority of scanlators/scanlation readers truely subscribe to that, beyond using it as a handy rationalization… books from *all* publishers are routinely scanlated or pirated, regardless of their editorial approach.

  9. I have scanlated versions of every manga i own, i won’t deny it. I have them for several reasons. Firstly i’ve found that usually the scanlations are better than the official, but i also like to carry them around with me. When i’m traveling i can carry 3-400 manga on my lap top so i never run out of something to read. Can you imagine carrying that amount of manga around, or hell even 10 volumes?

    As for no legal action, you’re waaay off there. There’s always some legal action going on, it jest never gets very far. The vast majority of scanlators give up a project if/when they recieve a C&D notice. I’ve worked in several groups over the years as an editor so have seen it from the inside.

    Saying that scanlations are ruining the market now is nuts. The publishers have ruined the market themselves by not listening to the fans. Go read Tokyopops version of Psychic Academy for example, then readthe SnoopyCool scanlated version and tell me truthfully which you would prefer. I have yet to meet anyone who has read both that has said they’d take the official release.

    It’s like going to buy a book called Robin Hood and his Merry Men, getting home and finding it Robin Hood, his druggy frined and marion the hooker (and sadly thats exactly what Psychic Academy was made into by TP)

    Yes that’s on the extreme side of the scale, but it’s common. It’s releases like that, as well as the likes of Flame of Recca by Viz, that force fans to turn to scanlations. As time goes buy they get into the mentality of why spend money on a title that’s probably going to be re-wrriten to bits?

    THATS what’s killing the market. I’m not saying that scanlations haven’t played a part in the market decline. But they aren’t the cause, nor even the major cause of the decline. We’re in a recession at the minute, people are spending less and are less likely to take a risk.

    I’ve noticed it myself, my impulss buying is all but nill. I used to pick up three or four titles a month bought purely on impulss with no knowledge of them prior to picking them up. I don’t do that right now because 1) money is short, and 2) im sick of buying duff titles.
    These days i look at scanlations first, and go from there.

    Most of the people i’ve worked with in scanlations, and the people i know who read them, do subscribe to what i think. I know people who don’t as well. The vast majority of people that i know however do tend to buy the manga they like once it’s licensed, unless it’s been butchered.

    The only way to counter the decline in sales is for publishers to change their attitude towards the fans and the titles. Treat them with respect, and in turn they’ll be treated with respect. There’s no excuse for rewrites, especially bad ones.

  10. Tiamat—>
    “I have scanlated versions of every manga i own, i won’t deny it.”

    And I’m not holding that against you or anyone. ;)

    “The vast majority of scanlators give up a project if/when they recieve a C&D notice.”

    And that’s exactly how things should work, isn’t it? Even though intent to distribute is easily provable, manga publishers have not run around suing people for $17,000 per infraction as certain other IP industries have; have not dragged parents and ISPs and schools into courts; have not tried to get entire online communities shut down, or certain software outlawed. Given the legal remedies available, manga publishers as a whole have been nothing but *civil* to fans, relatively speaking. (Yeah, I know, RIAA has set the bar pretty low. But still.)

  11. I guess i didn’t say it right, sorry :) It’s not what they do that’s the problem, it’s what they say and their attitude.

    They waste a lot of time decrying scanlators calling them the great evil etc etc etc. It’s a futile venture that does nothing but waste time, resources, and energy.

    I’m not saying they shouldn’t protect their stuff, what i’m saying is do it in a way so that scanlations don’t become as attractive as they are, If they were to focus that time and energy into making the releases the best possible, then eventually they’re going to start to win back the fans.

    TP treat both fans and front line shops like we’re scum who aren’t worth listening to, and Viz are even worse. This attitude has to change.

    Until they change their attitudes and working practices, they’ll never get rid of scans, and will continue to force people to move to scans. In times of financial crisis it’ll take even less of a knock to move fans over.

    (lol the RIAA didn’t set the bar low, it never got off the ground hehe)

  12. I think two misconceptions here are that 1) the manga industry is crashing, and 2) there is something wrong with professional manga translations.

    There are examples of both, but in my experience I’ll take the pro over the amateur. Publishers have heard loud and clear from fans they want no alterations, and by and large that is what publishers are doing. 10 years ago, sure, but for modern titles I think this part of the argument is almost if not completely outdated.

    I think this “I don’t want to wait” argument also falls a little flat. I don’t want to wait to see The Dark Knight on DVD, so I that’s an excuse to buy a pirated copy? Listen, if you really can’t wait, learn Japanese and go buy the manga and read it in Japanese.

  13. John, both Viz and TP still do extensive rewrites on thier releases. True they are improving, but it’s like getting blood from a stone.

    Flame of Recca, Buso Renkin, Dragon Drive, Prince of Tennis are all titles that i own by Viz that have had rewrites. Both Viz and TP admit to doing rewrites, and that they will continue to do rewrites, so saying they don’t is pretty funny when they’ve admitted it themselves.

    As for the pirate vid thing, that doesn’t fly. Movie comes to cinema, it’s usually on DVD within a few months. With manga it can be years.

    Also with movies you usually get it all in one go. It’s not very often you get trilogies of movies.

    Prime example would be Glass Mask. Lets say this was licensed and released. How long do you think it would take to catch upto the current scnalations. At the moment the scans are working on vol26. Going by previous releases we’re looking at 4-5 years to catch up.

    Do you seriously expect people NOT to read the scans and just wait 5 years for the releases to catch up to where they are already? Hell no!! I’l keep reading my scans, and buy the releases as they come put but i’d never give up my scans.

    As for the manga industry, again pretty much everyone is saying it’s in slow down. A few have had an increase truye, but most have stated there’s a slow down in sales. This is being further proven by front line stores saying there’s a drop in sales.

    As for learning japanese, not sure what it’s like in the US, but here in the UK it’s a dead language. None of the colleges teach it, only 3 universities in the country offer it as a option. Yoiu have to go privte, and finding a private tutor is hard, since most of them congregate to london and manchester. Then there’s the cost, you got the £3-6000 needed to learn?

    Even the self study courses over here are going to knock you back £2-3000 in the end. I know, i’ve looked into it.

  14. What do you mean by “rewrites”? Is it they are fixing translations or they are rewriting plot lines. If it is the latter, I can’t get behind that, but it would surprise me in this day and age, when Japanese manga have wikipedia pages with plot summaries before they are even released in English.

    Dark Horse is a company that has entered a self-described “era of no-censorship” and considering the maturity of the titles they release, that is pretty bold. This is what the fans want and they are doing it.

    Not often you get trilogies of movies? Really? I wish that were more true.

    I would agree there is a “slow down” in the manga market but that is different than saying the market is “ruined” and that publishers are “killing the market”. Maybe that is semantics, but I just wanted to make it clear that the manga industry is not in the downward free-fall some of the comments implied.

    I would never tell someone not to read a scan of an unlicensed title. But decent sites take down those scans when titles get licensed for a reason. It’s out of respect for the publisher who going out on a limb to bring it to a wider audience in print.

    I am sorry to hear only three institutions in the UK teach Japanese. In the US it is far from a dead language and is taught in many high schools and is readily accessible in higher learning. Considering Japan is one of the richest economies in the world, it would seem short-sighted to consider Japanese dead.

  15. John, no is saying that the market is ruined. But yes, i agree that the likes of Tokyopop and Viz ARE ruining the market.

    There are very few genuine trilogies these days John, we get series of movies, such as the Die Hard, Bad Boys, and Bond series. Which are all independant movies of each other, but are all part of the same series. But we don’t get very many true trilogies, such as the Matrix or Star Wars. The only major one i can think of of late would be the Harry Potter series.

    Tidying translations up i don’t have a problem with. And yes when you translate from one language to another, you lose a bit. That’s not the problem. The problem comes when you the original japanese version sayoing one thing, but when it’s officially released it’s another. Viz and Tokyopop do this quite a lot, and they’ve admited it.

    Personally i see it as a way of them trying to make the series appeal to more people, but it rarely works out.

    Here’s a challenge for you John to test you’re resolve that the official release is always the best. Get a hold of Psychic Academy by Tokyopop and read it. Then read the scans by SnoopyCool, and tell me honestly which you prefer, and which you would reccomend people to read, and why.

    I’ve yet to meet anyone who would tell people to read the TP version, and one of the people i gave that challenge to was an actual. publisher.

    Luckily not all publishers are as bad as that. DC, Yen, CMX, Del Rey are all pretty damn good when it comes down to it. And i do replace my scans for their releases. For example recently bought volumes 4 and 5 of D’Eon and vol 12 of XXXHolic. I’ve since deleted my scans of those. Why? Because the official releases ARE indeed better.

    As for Japanese over here, you misunderstood my use of dead language. Over here the only languages taught are usually French, Spanish and German. Asian languages such as japanese don’t get any suport in the education system. Which is sad because when i was in college they did have the basics at least. Over the years though it’s been killed off by eurolanguages.

    I don’t think anyone considers it a dead language (such as latin or greek are) it’s just considered dead cause no one teaches it, which sucks.

    Do try out my challenge and get back to me with what you think. Yes Psyachic Academy is one of the extremes, but it’s the perfect showcase for what i mean by re-writes

  16. If Tokyopop changed the meaning of the story in Psychic Academy, I don’t need to do anything but take your word for it. That surprises me, and in 2008 that kind of action will not be tolerated by fans.

    Thankfully that is not the action of the majority of publishers.

  17. TRue, but it is the actions of the big ones. Both Viz and TP are considered by many as the big publishers. So people tend to gauge other publishers by their releases. So when bad releases come from them, it reflects badly on other publishers. It’s the old ‘once bitten twice shy’ proverb.

    But you see the point im trying to make now yes? Fans are fed up with the rewrites so the move to the scanlations, which they’ve started to notice. It’s not all because they don’t want to pay, but rather they don’t want to buy a series, and have to get the scans as well. They’d rather just get the scans and ignore the releases


  1. […] on MangaBlog Brigid posted of an interview where scanlations are once again help up as the great evil destroying […]

  2. […] I can’t find David Doub’s original article on this subject, but here’s Brigid Alverson’s link to the piece. […]