I must admit, I found this all fascinating - all the procedures that go into creating the final product. And her impassioned opinions, too. Because after all that production, care and investment of love and art and money...
Along comes The Internet!!
Is it really bringing us unfettered joy and entertainment?
Or is it seducing us with the illusion of a 'free lunch'?
And is it slowly strangling the independent publishers?
I’m not really sure whether I can keep up with all the great entries that have been posted here so far, but I’ll give it a try.
I own a small, independent publishing company for yaoi mangas in Germany. We do mostly GloBl, no Japanese licensing. It’s not easy, trying to keep up with the big companies, especially the big publishing houses here in Germany that have more or less cornered most of the market for themselves. Though, what with Kodansha and Shuueisha starting to pull back their licenses, the market just *might* end being a little more equal, in the end.
Running a publishing company is no easy business. You put not only a lot of your own money, but also time, energy, weekends, holidays and the family on the line. You’re always on the edge of the abyss, trying not to see what’s staring back… But most of the time, you manage to scrape by, because you have good products, good artists, are careful with what and how much you publish, try to place your stuff everywhere possible and have built up a good customer base.
And then comes the Internet.
And that’s where I start having a serious problem. And it’s one that tends to tear me into two, personally. I’m talking about the growing communities of online sharers of everything yaoi – novels, mangas, DVDs, Drama CDs etc.
On the one hand, I love it. Of course! Because, while I’m a business person, I’m also a fan. I confess, I do my share of downloading fansubs (though if I like the series, be it manga or anime, I *always* end up buying it on DVD), and also the occasional *Japanese* language manga.
But I don’t do licensed stuff.
Because that’s where my other, second inner half comes in. The publisher half. And that’s the one counting up the amount of money that is lost when 1000 people download a shared, scanned, *licensed* manga, instead of buying it in the store.
Now, I’m sure that most people – either the sharing ones, or the downloading ones – don’t really think about what it is they’re doing to the publishers. I think that most fans see publishers as something intangible, as the suppliers of their favourite ‘drug’, but not as businesses that provide jobs for a myriad of employees. Jobs that will end up being lost if too much is shared (illegally, mind you) online.
Think about what a publisher has to do to get that manga out there to the bookstore. First, he has to *buy* the license from a Japanese publisher. Books or series that sell well can go into the tens of thousands in licensing fees. Per book.
So the publisher has shelled out, let’s keep it simple, $ 10.000 for a good yaoi book. Then he has to have it translated. That means paying either a full-time translator a decent wage, or a freelancer a good fee, which will probably also end up being an amount of $ 1-2000. Per book.
Then you have to have a layouter put it all together: the text, the pages, the content, the new ads, maybe a color page or two, and the cover. Again, you’re either paying an employee a wage – usually on a full-time basis, or you have a good freelancer, who doesn’t come cheap. Another $ 1-2000. Per Book.
Somewhere in between you have a proof-reader and a person doing the ad-campaign for the book. You also buy advertising space in appropriate places. You *promote* the book. Count in another $ 5-10.000, depending on how important the book is to your line-up of titles.
And then you have it printed. Even if you go to the cheapest printer around (maybe China), and do a print-run of 10.000 books, you’ll end up paying several thousand dollars for that. Then you have to ship it to the distributor and/or the bookstores. More expenses. And if the book-stores overstock, you have to take the books back – no matter what condition they’re in!
So by now you’ve shelled out maybe $ 30.000 for one book. And you still haven’t calculated in your *regular* expenses – like rent for the office, phone bills, your *own* wage (yes, business owners and/or managers *do* get a wage, too…), all the other employees you’ve got (like secretaries, mail-order staff, IT people etc.), electricity bills, *taxes* and more.
Now you’re counting on actually *selling* those 10.000 books – maybe a bit less, because of theft, or loss, or destruction – but roundabout there. And you’re thinking to be making to be making an average of $ 10,-- per book (because you have to factor in discounts and such), which will cover your expenses and the cost of new investments.
And then, instead of selling 10.000 books, you sell 1000. *Because the other 9000 people are downloading the book from the internet!*
Ok. How long do you think the publisher is going to be able to do this?
And how soon will the publisher say “why bother at all”? And either close down, or turn his attention to something less… attractive to downloading fans?
“Well, that won’t happen!” I hear the fans cry.
Perhaps. Because the publishers start sending C&Ds to the sharing communities. Because they crack down and chase them with lawyers. Because EBook publishers start putting harder and harder copy protection on their products.
What about all the arguments *for* sharing? Like:
- I don’t have the money to buy the actual book (whatever happened to *saving up* for something you want?)
- the books are so expensive (are they really? Think about the cost of producing the book.)
- there will *always* be someone sharing (unfortunately, yes)
- but it’s only *one* person sharing (with several thousands)
- the publisher doesn’t mind (how do you know that?)
- *everyone’s* doing it! (yes, and that’s the problem)
- if it’s on the Internet, it’s free anyhow (no, it’s not. It still belongs to the person who bought the rights, and to the creator.)
I confess, back in the ‘bad’ times, before Internet and scanners, I sometimes stood in the copy shop for *hours*, making a copy of a book I desperately wanted. But that’s *really* one person, doing *one* copy of one book. And it was usually something that was old enough not to be in print anymore. Because if it was available, I saved up until I could buy it.
So… On the one hand, I can understand all you fans out there, squeeing when you see the next DMP yaoi novel, or 801 Media yaoi manga, or GloBl EBook on one of the sharing communities, available from megaupload, or sendspace, or mediafire. You take, you enjoy.
On the other hand, I want to go out there and scream at each and every person scanning and sharing that *this* is illegal, immoral and, yes, unfair – to the creator, the publisher and all the people whose lives depend on this product actually bringing in money.
So. Now that I’ve pontificated enough, what do you think? Do you pick up your yaoi from sharing sites, or do you support the industry by actually *buying* the book (or anime, or whatever)? Am I being too narrow-minded?
I look forward to your thoughts. :)
What do YOU think, readers?
The contact details for her business are below, if you want to take a look.
And that banner?! *phew*
I assume it's by the gorgeous and shockingly talented P L Nunn *pants*.
Hope you both forgive me for making an icon out of it!
The Wild Side
http://lemonshop.livejournal.com (Das Onlinejournal von The Wild Side)
Follow this month with Clare (yes, it's all about the MEEEE...):
Jan 01 : the Cheeky Cherubs welcome us to 2009 with a pithy verse or two and the threat of piercings...
Jan 02 : sweet, sexy fiction from lilzazu, all about the perennially tricky problem of a sticky shift...
Jan 03 : excellent editing tips for all authors who ever wondered whether to be cruel to be kind to their prose, hosted by jolilightner...
Jan 04 : Clare pimps the fabulous I DO anthology, now available in ebook and all proceeds to Lambda...
Jan 05 : abstractrx ponders the changing role of Romance and its reflection of - or on?! - the society around it...
Jan 06 : FREE FICTION from me and my friends!
Jan 07 : Jordan Castillo Price discusses what tempts us to try out a new author...
Jan 08 : Clare rambles on about perceived plagiarism and posts excerpts of her Torquere titles...
Want to grab a day to pimp, pose or pontificate? Comment HERE!! ♥