Well, now. Question asked? Question answered. No sooner had I put up my assessment of that Publisher’s Weekly article about manga’s diminishing American sales (suggesting a sanctioned alternative is the answer to scanlations) than this ANN article from was brought to my attention, as well.
So this company, Bitway, has just made a $750 grand “strategic investment” in Crunchyroll. Bitway’s an experienced Japanese e-book distributor and it’s angling to get manga out to North American audiences the same way the site’s already been putting anime out there. I suppose this answers the issue PW raised about official motions taking too long - - things could happen very fast with this. Then again, this is still just the start. Who knows where this is going to actually lead, or even what titles are going to be offered.
It is still an intriguing novelty for me to see the manga industry experiencing the same dilemmas and having the same discussions as the American comics biz. Me, myself… I really dislike reading manga, comics, novels or books of any kind on a computer screen, but I still say this is a good response to audience demands. But disregard me for a second (it’s easy)… there are obviously legions of readers who, while not voting with their wallets per se, have nevertheless voted with their keyboards. They have no problem reading manga online - - they might even prefer it - - and any sensible business is going to pay attention to their audience's habits.
As with American comics, I don’t see digital distribution as being a replacement, but a supplement for print. A move like this could very well even prove a boon to die hard fans of print. You could preview a title on CrunchyRoll that you might have never heard of otherwise and get a taste that prompts you to pick up the print edition. If it'd worked, it'd be a win-win situation.
Anyway, we got a lively discussion going over the scanlation article and this definitely a talking point to push that discussion farther. Let's hear what you Anime Vice lunatics have to say.