Down, down, down

General exhaustion, the economy tanking, and the two day school break for Roshashana have got me scrambling to catch up.  (Note: watching the Dow plummet is not recreational time well spent.)

I am woefully behind schedule with pretty much all of the below links, but still think it’s worthwhile to point out some of the cream from the crop that’s risen to the top.

First off, Brigid is back!  Mangablog is in full effect yet again!  So all manga or comics bloggers/journalists/speculators beware: if you’ve got something to say, if you’ve got some dirty little manga secret that you think is safe in the blogosphere, Brigid is going to find it and out you.

Here’s the latest link from her blog to Lissa Pattillo’s blog, Kuriosity, that made me thoughtful: DMP’s layoffs.  I got a good-bye message from Rachel at DMP sometime last month, sharing news of her plans to leave the company.  Apparently she wasn’t the only one.

“On a more negative note regarding DMP, while I posted a little while ago about the letting-go of the core staff of 801Media, word on the internet is that some of Digital Manga’s main imprint staff have been let go as well. While I can’t give names until I can confirm this news heard at the con, for now I can atleast say that this looks like a sudden belt-tightening by DMP that my indicate a few more troubles than initially thought. All speculation at this point but I’m sure we’ll hear something more conclusive in the coming weeks.”

I would say that boys love publishing has gone through it’s own belt-tightening with publishers shutting down or going quiet.  Interestingly, the enthusiasm for BL is still going strong even if it’s not translating to revenue.  Something that I found odd during NYAF took place at the Yaoi panel which I was on and presided over as “resident crotchety old lady.”  All the girls in the audience were squealing with delight at the dirty boys in the slideshow that moderator Abby Denson put together while I was, essentially, the rain on the happy, anal-rape parade.  Frank Pannone of MediaBlasters was the other speaker on the panel, and while I believe that yaoi is doing well for them, the health of the overall market for boys love is, well, unhealthy.  I encouraged audience members to buy the books (scans are great, but buy the books) because that’s the only way the industry is going to survive.  I swear a gasp rippled through the audience and I could see the fire ignited in every yaoi lover in that room.  But that strange disconnect, the one between consumer and market, of not clearly understanding their role in the market or that they have a role to begin with, was a curious one to see.

Another curious belt-tightening observation took place earlier this week when I was, ahem, doing some research and found quite a few scanlations pulled down off the web.

Scans is one of those issues that kind of just goes in a loop.  Harmful or helpful?  Scans are illegally scanned, translated manga that’s distributed online courtesy of bittorrent (or other shareware).  Time was, the unwritten code of scanlation forbade scanlators to continue scanning properties that had been licensed by American publishers; the whole idea being that the scans were the initial phase of building property awareness, an introduction to a product that we were aspiring to own.  What makes it even more interesting is that the current culture of scanlation doesn’t observe that rule at all.  All sorts of Naruto is available online, as is NANA and others.

But I just noticed that a number of scans have been pulled from sites at the request of publishers like Dark Horse, TokyoPop, ADV, and Dr. Master.  One site, a mainstay in the scanlation community, has even gone dark, pulling all remaining scans of properties that have yet to be licensed (or, in the case of Freesia, probably will never see shelfspace on American shores).  Obviously, this may not have anything to do with belt-tightening.  Scanlation is illegal and it’s a violation of copyright to have unauthorized scans on the web.  But publishers cracking down – or scan sites actually cooperating and observing the C&D requests from pubs – can’t help but make me wonder.

Of course, some properties online give way to kids buying more affiliated merchandise.  But it don’t always work like that.

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10 Comments »

  1. gynocrat said

    You seem so hell bent on thinking that BL is a shrinking violet. ^_^ It contracted when outsiders saw ‘potential’ profit in it…but the truth is, BL fans buy BL books – yaoi is not a gateway drug to manga and so not every manga pub needs a ‘yaoi’ imprint.

    Two notable pubs have bit the dust/gone quiet because of poor business practices–not necessarily a nonsupporting market. Yes, spending is down – but right now what BL needs is more online enthusiasm.

    I encouraged audience members to buy the books (scans are great, but buy the books) because that’s the only way the industry is going to survive.

    I can’t help but disagree with you here…BL fans were still buying books and loving BL long before anyone put them into English. Even if all the BL pubs died tomorrow, we’d still have a fandom. Scanslators would transition back into the greatness they once had before the NA pub boom– but BL as a market will never die; fans will just buy from Japan, as they always did. 🙂

  2. gynocrat said

    because that’s the only way the industry is going to survive. Oops, unless you’re talking about ‘manga’ overall, and not just BL?

  3. akeleven said

    I’m buying less BL for two reasons: 1. lost my job and 2. too much of the translated stuff is like cotton candy – too sweet, no meat. I don’t mean that it is not graphic enough but that I want more story. All the combinations of seme/uke/student/teacher/doctor/businessman/yakuza that can be told in 20 pages have been done, done, Done! Give me plot! Give me a continuing story. Give me characters! No more pastel covers!

    So, because of reason #1 (no job) I am only buy stuff that I have high expectations of. Now I am more dependent on reviews to spark my interest.

  4. Craaaat!

    No, you read me right – I meant the BL industry. But I meant the local BL industry here in this country. Your comment about BL fans being BL fans makes total sense and explains this sort of sentiment of removal I was feeling at the panel. What I’m hearing you say is that BL fans are fans of the material regardless of where it’s coming from, whether it’s an American publisher or a Japanese publisher or online or in German. They’re gonna get their fix, local industry be damned.

    I feel like this is also indicative of manga fans in general. Whether there’s a local industry or not, they’re going to get their manga on, by hook or by crook.

    And yes, I am currently obsessed with the doom and the gloom. Drives people bonkers, but I feel like I gotta do something to keep the romance alive. ^_~

    Wait ’til you see the cover of the next issue of Comic Foundry. I’ll blog about it soon.

  5. […] Original post by boiled egg […]

  6. sunflower1343 said

    I don’t see things in the same light. The economy is down. Sales of all books are down. Bookstores of all sorts are hurting. All companies are dumping excess baggage. Why should the fact that BL companies are doing this too indicate that anything in particular is wrong with them? Why would it mean that BL is losing steam? Gas and food always come first, and entertainment companies are having to deal with it.

    Kitty has said that one thing they can count on is that BL fans will buy BL. We fans are not ignorant. We support the books and companies we love. That’s why so many people tried to sell to us. Unfortunately, several companies folded for lack of business acumen, not because scanlations drove them out of business. People were waiting in line to buy DQs books. People are paying $400 a copy for BeBeautiful’s OOP books, for which I might add, scanlations are still freely available on the internet.

    I will personally not buy a series I’ve not at least partially read via scanlation, because I don’t have money to waste anymore. I spent $100 on DMPs BL tonight, and $90 was for books I’d read in scanlation. The other $10 was to make it to $100 for free shipping.

    I don’t think the romance has gone anywhere. I think a slumping economy is hurting everyone. But in the BL community I run the fans are enthusiastic buyers, even if they have to be more selective about what they buy.

  7. […] Kai-Ming Cha catches up with some news of layoffs and downsizing at DMP, the manga publisher: “On a mo […]

  8. Sunflower, you’re absolutely right. BL fans are NOT ignorant by any stretch. Which is why I found audience reaction at the panel curious. But a few attendees approached me at the end, telling me that as newcomers to the genre, they’d do their part to buy books. A new, casual BL readership? That would be interesting.

    I also find your comments about scans interesting. It sounds as though they’re necessary in a tightening economy which makes me wonder if these publishers that have send out their C&D’s will suffer from lack of scans (i.e. free publicity, property marketing).

    And again you’re on target with publishers. BB and DQ are not good examples of companies gone under, you’re quite right there. I only hope that other fans are able to buy their BL online since distribution seems to be getting trickier.

  9. gynocrat said

    And yes, I am currently obsessed with the doom and the gloom. Drives people bonkers, but I feel like I gotta do something to keep the romance alive. ^_~

    Uh oh… ^____^

  10. Jack said

    manga scan…

    Unlike America, the live-action industry in Japan remained a small market and suffered from budgeting, location, and casting restrictions….

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