One of the highlights of Comic-Con, as far as we’re concerned, was the Sunday-morning “Techland Presents: Comics and Digital Piracy” panel, featuring comiXology’s CEO David Steinberger, manga expert Deb Aoki, and manga editor Jake T. Forbes, with Techland’s Douglas Wolk moderating. Aoki has posted a transcript of the entire panel over at About Manga. A few highlights, to whet your appetite:
Besides being a comics critic, I’ve been writing about music and the music industry for close to 20 years now. Over the last decade I’ve seen the music business destroy itself, and totally alienate its most enthusiastic customer base, trying to fight digital piracy. And one of the reasons I got this panel together is that I don’t want to see the comics business make the same mistakes. It’s starting to seem like history is repeating itself with the comics business.
(More on Techland: The Future of Digital Comics and the Past of Digital Music)
Why aren’t you giving the scanlation sites shit? Because they’re making money off of you and your free labor – otherwise, why would they be doing it? They’re making money – don’t let any of them fool you into thinking they’re not-for-profit ventures. Their business model would fall apart if they had to pay people for the work it takes to scan, translate, edit the scanlated manga and manage their online forums, much less pay the artists a fair rate for their comics.
The way that publishers are kind of easing into it is, ‘Okay; let’s see if this drives sales or takes away sales in print.’ And the fact is, and forgive me, if anyone saw the panel earlier, the top 10 title in our app, which aggregates DC, Marvel and 38 other publishers, it’s Wanted. Wanted number one through five is always in our top 10. It’s Hellboy, it’s occasionally Sandman; lately Neil Gaiman has been tweeting about the app.
(More on Techland: Talking Digital Comics with comiXology’s David Steinberger)
I think that the publishers and the creators are so far behind the curve that oftentimes it is creating that demand. I wish the publishers would take responsibility, but at least for manga, there is so much content out there – licensed or not. If there’s no way for fans to be introduced to it, then you can’t really get the momentum of the fandom really clamoring for something. Nowadays, scanlations are the main way for fans to find out about new manga titles.
Go read the whole thing!