The link post is running late today due to some Christmas-related duties, but here’s the big news of the day: Square Enix has launched their online manga store. Now the pirates-versus-iTunes theory will be tested for sure, as a major publisher allows you to buy your manga cleanly and legally on the web, as opposed to skulking around scanlation sites.
I haven’t kicked the tires yet, but the lineup looks good: The first volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, Record of a Fallen Vampire, and Yumekui Kenbun: Nightmare Inspector are all up there, with second volumes either already in the store or coming soon. And they are offering all manga for $5.99 for a limited time. I hope they aren’t planning on charging more than that, as $5.99 is at the high end of what I would be willing to pay, frankly. You have to register to buy manga, but they have wisely opted to allow non-members to read free previews. Also wise: Including a forum for fans, which can become an attraction in itself.
Full press release after the jump. Go check out the site and let me know what you think of it in comments.
SQUARE ENIX LAUNCHES ONLINE MANGA STORE
Market-leading titles including Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater
Now Available Via Digital Distribution
Special Sale Price Now Available for a Limited Time
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 17, 2010) – Square Enix, Inc., the publisher of SQUARE ENIX® interactive entertainment products in North America, today announced the launch of its online manga store, where users and fans can view electronic editions of popular Square Enix manga series, such as Fullmetal Alchemist® and Soul Eater®. Users can access the store through the SQUARE ENIX MEMBERS website, a free-to-register membership site operated by local subsidiaries of Square Enix (http://publications.na.square-enix.com/na/us/top).
Through the new service, SQUARE ENIX aims to provide a global audience with easy access to localized versions of its popular manga titles through streaming. Also, through cooperation with regional localization/publishing companies, SQUARE ENIX will endeavor to promote both print and online versions of its manga titles globally. Furthermore, it is the company’s aim for the official online distribution service to serve as a deterrent against illegal downloading and piracy.
Anchored by established series in the United States, the online distribution service will continue to provide manga titles that will appeal to readers of the region (further details outlined below). Starting today, the initial lineup in the United States will be four titles, including Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater, available at the special sale price of $5.99 for a limited time. The first update is scheduled for January 11, 2011. New titles will be added bi-monthly after January.
The community services offered through the SQUARE ENIX MEMBERS website will not only allow members to enjoy manga titles, but also supply a public forum where fans can provide commentary and exchange opinions about their favorite series. The site will also have special offers where members can download free wallpapers. Non-members can get a taste of the Japanese manga experience as well through free previews of the first chapters from each of the available titles.
Square Enix is dedicated to creating new entertainment experiences via online communities, shopping sites and other Internet-based business operations, and digital distribution of manga is one such endeavor toward that goal. The company plans to continue delivering a wide variety of content to an expanding global customer base through numerous outlets and multiple forms of media.