At a recent Con Yen Press made two comments about scanlations, both of which irked me.
"(scanlations) impedes our ability to grow our business, & hurts our ability to bring books that fans want to US."
"scanlations are a rare example of fan enthusiasm hurting something they love."
I totally disagree with Yen Press on these points.
I’ve been a scanlator, and I collect scanlation for loads of series (I have over 1.5Tb of manga scans). Yet that doesn’t mean I’m impeding the manga industry. Scanlations have a place within the industry, and I admit it’s a fine balance between the two. However I think it’s all on the way it’s used.
I first got into manga through scanlations, as did most of the people I know in the UK manga scene. The vast majority of the stuff we read are unlicensed, so saying that reading unlicensed scans effects the US market leaves me a little baffled.
When a title gets licensed, I admit I wont throw out the scans. I wait until the actual volume has been released and is in my hand. Then if it’s a good release (and not another Psychic Academy or Flame of Recca!!) I’ll keep it. Do I delete the scanlation? Depends, nine time out of ten I wont since I like to have them on my lap top for long bus or train rides.
Will I stop getting the scanlations? Unlikely. Most of the titles I get as scanlations are long running titles and the US publishers have no chance of catching up to the japanese releases. So why should I stop collecting them just because it’s been licensed?
The sad fact is that not everyone will buy the volumes as they’re released, some people are simply after what’s free and will never buy a title after it’s released. I’ve done it with a few titles, such as Tokyopop’s Psychic Academy and Viz’s Flame of Recca. Both of which I refused to buy because of the hatchet job the companies did on them.
I do try to buy the titles I love, and for the most part I do. However I don’t have a unlimited bank, so I balance between what I like and what is good. If publishers want my money they have to earn it, simply licensing a title isn’t enough. They have to put out a quality release. I can stomach crappy paper if the material itself is done right.
Saying that scanlators are killing the industry is the same argument that the MPAA has been using for years, that every download is a lost sale. Sorry but real life doesn’t go that way. The world is full of leeches who want it all for free, they aren’t fans. Fans may get the scans, but they’ll also get official releases when they’re out.
I find it weird for a publisher to say that scans are destroying the industry, when publishers themselves have admitted to using scanlations as a gauge of what series to license.
There is no solid evidence to show what extent of effect scanlations have on the industry. Yes it has an effect, but I do not believe, and you’ll never convince me, that they’re killing the manga industry in the US.