Anime Vice News

Follow-Up: Kurt Hassler on Yen+ Digital

Yen Press head honcho Kurt Hassler fields questions about Yen's upcoming digital version.

 As I mentioned when I posted about Yen Press's announcement yesterday-- that anthology Yen Plus would be switching from print to digital this July --I shipped off an e-mail to Yen, and publisher/cofounder Kurt Hassler was kind enough to respond! As you might imagine, not everything is ready to be revealed just yet, but I was able to get a few tidbits.

Anime Vice: Will the digital Yen+ be in a PDF format, or will it use some kind of in-browser viewing app?

Kurt Hassler: The new digital version of Yen Plus will be displayed in a dedicated browser.  The presentation will be precisely as you find it in the magazine -- that is to say that all chapters of each issue will appear in a single browsing experience to encourage readers to experiment with new titles with which they may not already be familiar.  There is a Table of Contents, however, to allow readers to jump to their favorite chapters.  I really do hope, though, that subscribers sample everything.


 Maybe...?
 Maybe...?
AV: When you buy a copy of Yen+ physically, you can go back to that copy for as long as you keep it. How long will online subscribers have access to digital Yen+ issues?

KH: This is one of those "to be revealed" items...


AV: What does this mean for some of the free, physical-item giveaways that Yen+ offered?

KH: With respect to giveaways, subscribers will be eligible for exclusive contests (which will include things like early copies of books, etc.) and other online benefits.  We'll be wracking our brains daily to come up with new and exciting incentives.


 A  Yen Press manga I'd love to see more of!
 A  Yen Press manga I'd love to see more of!
AV: Will Yen+ expand its offerings, since it no longer has space constraints?

KH: Ultimately, yes, I would like to be able to greatly expand our offerings.  Going digital means we no longer have to be concerned with page count limitations or how adding additional content will affect our shipping weights or printing costs.  We can offer more content to a wider audience more efficiently at a significant savings to the reader.  The trade off is that we're losing that tactile experience of holding the printed magazine in your hand --  but as the material will ultimately be collected in the trade editions of the books, it's really just delayed gratification.  And that's another bonus in and of itself.  Since we don't have to be so concerned with page counts, we have greater flexibility to include multiple chapters of a series in an individual issue which in turn gives us more leeway with our release schedules on the books.  The benefits of a move like this really are significant.


There's plenty more to be revealed-- and I'd be shocked if Yen wasn't looking at the possibilities for e-readers like the iPad book store, the Kindle, etc. But in the meantime it looks like we'll see more manga that you can read legally right in your browser, which sounds good. I confess that while I loved the overall print quality of Yen+, it made it difficult to decide whether to give up bookshelf space or dispose of them-- compared to the low-quality newsprint pages of Japan's phonebook-size mangabon, which I virtually always recycle! 
 
What do you think? Will you be okay giving up your print Yen Plus for a digital version?
FoxxFireArt moderator on April 22, 2010 at 5:13 a.m.
Well, my experiences with Yen Press have been pretty good. Nice to see another publisher come along with good quality and dedication to actual stories. Not like VIZ altering works and butchering stories. All while saying they don't want scalations.
 
Want to get people to start going to official sites for manga. Start offering a quality that can actually meet scanlation dedication and accuracy. The great thing about scanlations is you never have to worry about offending or all the PC bull that keeps coming up. Such as VIZ renaming God Eneru to Kami Eneru. I don't see how you can complain about scanlation if the only product you are going to offer is of inferior quality to what is fan made. It should be the other way around.
 
If Yen Press is as well done in their works as Del Rey. That might be worth supporting.
MoonStormon April 22, 2010 at 8:55 a.m.
I see not reason not to give it a try. I've always like Yen+ and as long as they keep adding a variety of stuff to there magazine it should be fine. 
mangawidgeton April 22, 2010 at 10:13 a.m.
It's interesting FFA, that you have spun your response to yet again vilify publishers and champion scanlations. Give it a rest.
 
While I'm sad to see Yen Plus leave the newsstand, I am happy that they are deciding to continue it in a digital form. My subscription has just run dry, and because of their shoddy subscription service provider, I was intending to not renew, but now I find out that even if I had, I'd be trying to get my money back.
Lanon April 22, 2010 at 10:37 a.m.
The whole reason we subscribed in the first place was because we liked the print magazine form. But I'm possibly interested in this digital version now if there is the definite possibility of not only more variety of content but more chapters as well. I want a definite answer on how long I'll be able to access my digital versions of Yen+  before I subscribe to this new digital one. At least we don't have to worry about delivery problems with a digital version.
sunfloweron April 22, 2010 at 11:03 a.m.
It's good for manga fans, but sad that it won't be out there to draw in new fans who might see it at a bookstore, etc, and want to try manga out.  (I don't see how it could be distributed to pull people in that hadn't been looking for it in the first place.)
FoxxFireArt moderator on April 22, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.
@mangawidget said:
" It's interesting FFA, that you have spun your response to yet again vilify publishers and champion scanlations. Give it a rest. "
Drum roll, please.............................................................................. No.
mediarighton April 22, 2010 at 1:08 p.m.
Like I said in the previous post, it's good to see Yen keeping this around for current print subscribers, but they can't expect to bring anybody new into the fold with this. Not when scanlations do nearly as good a job in a far more timely fashion. The "paper-feel" argument was the only real reason to subscribe to an anthology (that and slightly better translations + you're supporting the mangaka), but those latter two reasons won't alone get someone to switch from scanlations to a digital subscription...there's just too much red tape to getting an account and paying, plus proprietary software vs. just surfing over to a scan site in firefox... inaction is easier here and their value prop. sucks at this point. 
 
However...if they can compete with free, like really try and compete with it, then they have a shot. I mean real innovation though. First and foremost, especially since it's online now, they need to go weekly, and go current (like one to two week delay at-most). It's the biggest upside to scans, and the anime industry is already moving to simulcasts for many shows. Why can't this happen in print too? Second...ease of use. This thing better work in a browser. You can have a software reader too, but it better be good. Devices too, and the apps better not cost that much in-addition to subscriptions. I know it sounds like I'm asking for a lot, but that's seriously what I think it's going to take to get a large portion of the American online audience to switch from scanlation sites. Apple was able to do it with iTunes against Kazaa and Napster by trying to put themselves in-line with all the advantages of these other networks, plus adding in other cool stuff. The subscription has to be the ONLY thing that's a downside vs. scanlations for people to switch. Just my opinion, but the anime industry is making headway already in this. Manga will die a slow and painful death until it realizes it needs to compete head-on too.
Addfwynon April 22, 2010 at 7:51 p.m.
I'm always a fan of digital content over physical, maybe not for some kinds of books and stuff.  But for comics/manga?  Most certainly.  I've always been a big fan of an all-digital/no-physical lifestyle though.
mangawidgeton April 22, 2010 at 8:06 p.m.

@mediaright:
 
 Competing with free in the music industry was a lot easier when sites like Kazaa and Napster went down or lost popularity due to RIAA lawsuits or spyware shenanigans. The barrier to entry on torrents is not high, but it's a sufficiently high barrier for people who are inept with computers. The casual user would rather spend .99 for a song than be bothered with the inconvenience of finding a torrent and the threat of a lawsuit. In pirated music,  it's much harder to find reliable downloads for more obscure content.  Manga has no such issues currently. Scanlation sites are the definition of "ease of access." They allow you to access content through your web browser, and they're fairly simple to maneuver. No special software, no downloads, just a jpeg and a browser. 
 
Digital offerings in a payment system can not compete with that unless they perform some service that can only be rendered through a subscription (for example, a coupon for a book when it comes out, etc.). So many American fans, as FireFox has so aptly demonstrated, just don't give a crap about the industry, the mangaka, or even the manga they read. It's free disposable entertainment. Asking them to pay for that would be like asking them to crap out nails. It's possible, but I doubt any of them are going to be doing it any time soon.
FoxxFireArt moderator on April 22, 2010 at 9:05 p.m.
@mangawidget: 
Do you hear that noise? Listen closely. That's the sound of the world's smallest violin, and it's playing just for you. Also, It's spelled "FoxxFire".
 
For some reason people only seem to focus on the negativity. I care about the industry. Which is why I wont tolerate the job being done poorly. I'm very supportive of Del Rey, Yen Press, and other publishers. It's just VIZ isn't worth the paper they print on. They poorly translate, poorly edit, and alter story content.  Scanlations do a far better and more accurate job then the people VIZ pays.
 
I support Del Rey, because they actually do a good job. Their publication of Negima! is so close to what I've seen in the scanlation version. I've never seen an example when the interior art has been altered no matter how sexually suggestive they may be. VIZ frequently tampers with the artwork. I've also never read a scene in a single issue of Negima! that wasn't identical or extremely close to what I originally saw in scanlation. Even in the off chance some minor change might be needed. They explain it in the notes of the back. They are dedicated on doing the job right and trying to be as accurate as possible. Which is why this kind of behavior is well worth supporting, and why I currently own every volume that is currently out in the US.

VIZ is one publisher. Not the media as a whole. My opinion of that one publisher is based upon their performance. VIZ does not deserve to be paid for just existing. When 4Kids altered One Piece. The story was utterly butchered. They had permission from the original publishers to do that. That didn't make it good, worth supporting, or worth buying. Thankfully, they lost the license and FUNimation is doing the dubs right. Which is why for One Piece. I don't go to any other site, but FUNimation's.
 
Telling me that I need to "give it a rest" because you don't happen to agree with me on this issue, and make false accusations against me and my motives. Only shows an example of fascism. It's either believe what you think I should, or I don't care about the industry and shouldn't be saying anything, based on your earlier statement. You don't agree with me? Fine, but don't tell me that I need to stop expressing myself on the matter.
Monkeynohitoon April 23, 2010 at 2:58 p.m.
The issue with piracy isn't the need to compete with free, it's competing with a certain maturity level which has always felt entitled to free entertainment. A real enthusiast of any media with developed tastes is willing to support what they love regardless of whether they can nab a copy on-line. This is what they're talking about up there about the 'delayed gratification' of a print release. Publications such as Yen+ that appeals to mature or niche fans will be able to offer on-line manga where something like core Shonen Jump titles would still need to compete with scans because they appeal to a young general audience not familiar with or not able to make purchases on their own.
Aescon April 23, 2010 at 4:31 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt:  
  I totally agree with you on VIZ,  which is why another publsiher by the name Tokyopop is no different.  They butchered up Sailor Moon as much as VIZ butchered up One Piece, and even today ,  their quality is still inconsistent.  Whenever they license something I want,  that just gives me more of a reason to learn Japanese.=.=  I wouldn't HATE Tokyopop if i knew that each and every one of the series I liked would be as close to original as possible rather  than being close to the scanlated version( in terms of translations).  The most unbelievable thing is that both VIZ and Tokyopop still make money to this day!  I mean, I understand how fans feel when they get their most treasured series available in English  but does that mean that you'll buy it even when its not  like those high quality releases that Yen and other publishers  strive for in every series they put out?
FoxxFireArt moderator on April 23, 2010 at 6:18 p.m.
@Aesc: 
In all fairness to VIZ. The alterations they do to One Piece is no where near the utter gutting of the anime done by 4Kids, but they do near equal alterations to the Detective Conan manga and refuse to offer an alternative.
 
If scanlations is the only place you can get the quality you are looking for, and the US publisher wont provide an unaltered product. I see no problem with going with scanlations.
 
I haven't bought many Tokyopop titles. I've bought a few Love Hina and an issue of Rave Master. Those have been pretty close to what I have read in scanlation. Isn't is just so frustrating to see a publisher butcher your favorite series, but hardly touch a different one? Why is it that I can't get that same sort of treatment for the series I want?
mangawidgeton April 23, 2010 at 7:32 p.m.
@FoxxFireArt: 
 
So apparently I'm a fascist now? And I'm making false accusations against you? Check yourself sir.
 
I'm not questioning your motives, ill-conceived as they are. I'm questioning your expression of said motives and beliefs, and their appropriateness in a given context. It seems all you did for this thread was come in and bash publishers in general and talk about how awesome scanlation teams are. I don't see how that's relevant to the Yen+ anthology going digital. Furthermore, my second response wasn't even to you. If you take offense to it, perhaps my generalization of most manga fans that read scans hit a little too close for you. It's not focus on negativity, it's a focus on reality.
 
As it stands, can Yen Press expect you to pay for digital content that you could easily steal? There's no material good for you to purchase here (i.e. a paper anthology), so all you're paying for is a reading experience you already have for free. Please prove me wrong and buy that. I would love to see you put your money where your mouth is. If  Yen Press is good enough for your standards, you should have no issues buying the reading experience, right? And if we assume that you will pay, which I highly doubt based on your replies to previous threads and this thread, how many people who read scans just like you will buy a digital copy of Yen+? I'll preemptively answer that question - not a whole heck of a lot.
 
Also, no one said that you had to buy manga from Viz. You have the right to not purchase manga if it doesn't suit your taste. However, just because you "don't like" a manga that Viz puts out because it's different from the stolen one you've already read doesn't mean you have the right to continue to steal it. You shouldn't have stolen it in the first place.
FoxxFireArt moderator on April 23, 2010 at 9:17 p.m.
@mangawidget: 
I see no problem with you being against my views, but you have no right to say that I shouldn't even speak about my own by saying I should "give it a rest.". Let alone make the claim that I don't care about the industry. If you don't like it, then ignore me. Would you tell someone the same thing for speaking well of the publisher or series? Why is it only positive statements can be profuse, but negative criticism should be stifled?
 
You question my motives and my dedication to the industry when you accuse me of not even caring about it just because I have a strong opinion that the series should be done well and the stories unaltered. Using again my opinion on a single publisher. Do I not care about the industry when I praise the works done by Del Rey?
Whether your response was to me or not. I got it in my inbox for whatever reason.
 
It's not that VIZ doesn't suit my tastes. They get their facts wrong, they poorly translate, poorly edit, and refuse to offer any alternative to their alterations. While scanlations don't make the same mistakes. VIZ should be offering a product that is superior to scanlations, but more often they are inferior.
People read online only because they want the real story. Not what VIZ altered it to be. I have never seen an example of a scanlation showing alterations done by VIZ. When you say I don't care about the industry just because I have a personal grudge against a single publisher. You are making a blanket accusation about my motives.
I want to be able to buy the real story. Not what VIZ changed it to be, because they wanted to hit some demographic that might be too "confused" by Japanese names. If they aren't going to offer an alternative to their alterations. I see no reason in enjoying the story online. I'd be glad to buy it if they would stop altering the story. Translation issues are one thing, but when you are altering names and changing the facts of what is being seen on the page. That is too far.
I'm not speaking about small issues such as not using honorifics. They are nice to have, but don't effect the story. Changing the names and nationalities of the cast is too much.

Stolen or not. It's the real story the author created. I want the authors story. Not VIZ's version of it. For many years the only way a person could watch the real One Piece was through fan subs. Before that the only option was the horribly altered 4Kids versions. Now that FUNimation is doing it right. There is no reason to use fan subs and not buy the DVDs.
It's VIZ who doesn't want people to go to scanlations, but wont offer unaltered content. When they altered the story it was a gamble that people wouldn't want it. It's their problem if they lost that bet.
 
It would be one thing if VIZ did this to all the series, but some they alter to the point of being completely different. Some they hardly touch at all. Why is it say Naruto or Bleach get a story with all the characters with their Japanese names, but the Detective Conan series had all the names of the cast changed?
 
There is no reason to pay them for a flawed product when they are the ones who made the changes. It's not something the author got wrong. I would love to be able to buy some of the series they make, but only without the characters altered.
mangawidgeton April 24, 2010 at 7:44 a.m.
@FireFoxxArt
 
As I said previously, the 'give it a rest' was in regards to your off-topic praise of piracy. I understand it's your soapbox, but this thread, at the time, was not the place to stand on it.
 
Just because you want something doesn't mean you're entitled to have it, regardless of what it is. If I want a Ferrari, but can't pay for it, then I'm not getting a Ferrari. The same is true for any other consumer good like anime and manga.  If you want the original story, then buy the original tankobon, or buy the original anthology. Manga is not a free ride.
 
And, you didn't even answer my question that was pertinent to this discussion, about the digital Yen+ movement.  You just ranted about Viz.
 
You say you care about the industry, and about non-Viz publishers. So, I'll pose the question again. Would you buy a digital reading experience when you could just as easily steal it?
giaon April 24, 2010 at 9:09 a.m.
@mangawidget: I'm more curious about whether he'll ever put his money where his mouth is by importing the manga he supposedly loves so much from Japan. It's an entirely different prospect from buying anime from Japan, since manga is cheaper there rather than more expensive. 
 
@FoxxFireArt: You've said that you read One Piece online only because of your distaste for VIZ-- that it isn't the money. I remind you again that it is very easy to import manga from Japan, especially One Piece since its title is romanized. I just went through Amazon.co.jp and added all 57 One Piece volumes to date, and the price with shipping is $465. For 57 volumes. 
 
Now, on Amazon some of those volumes are $7.95, and some are $9.99. Even if we pretended that they were all $7.95 and that Amazon would ship them all to you for free, that would cost you $453 (if all 57 volumes were even out here). That means that ordering it from Japan would cost you a mere $12 more...and the reality of it is that a good chunk of the volumes would cost more, meaning that you would pay MORE to buy those books off of Amazon (or get them at a bookstore) than if you were buying them from Japan. 
 
You say you want the manga; why do you continue to refuse to import it, which would support its original creators and the Japanese manga industry as a whole while bypassing support of VIZ's release, given that the price is similar or even cheaper? Even breaking it up into 2 or 3 shipments, while slightly more expensive than the number above, would be every bit as affordable as buying the volumes one at a time in English would have been, had they been published by someone other than VIZ.
FoxxFireArt moderator on April 24, 2010 at 9:42 a.m.
@mangawidget: 
Yes, I would buy a digital option providing they didn't change the content of the story. I've even suggested that as an option in some past postings I have made. Including the option of selling unedited versions just off their websites to reduce distribution costs.
 
As I have said. I have never seen a scanlation that uses the alterations done by VIZ in the series. That's because no one wants it.
 
@gia:
I've considered imports, but a book is meant to be read. Not just sit on a shelf and look pretty. I am studying Japanese, but learning another language that is based upon characters rather then letters is very slow going. If the Japanese publishers were producing it in English without alterations. I would of been doing that long before.
 
Just as when I learned that FUNimation was offering the proper names on the DVD subtitles of Detective Conan have I started to seriously look into that and order some of the DVDs.
 
I'm also going to fight tooth and nail first to try and get a publisher to try and actually meet the quality that comes from scanlations. Rather then producing an inferior product. I don't want to be ordering books that will take me days to figure out how to read at a time only to find out years later the US publisher decides to start providing unedited series. I don't want to be buying things twice.
 
It's VIZ that altered the story. That was their gamble. Every excuse people have given me in the past has just fallen apart. People have told me that they altered names to remain consistent with the FUNimation dubs. That's not true. There are many characters in the series that VIZ isn't consistent with. Most notably would be the character Ai Haibara from Detective Conan. VIZ named her Anita Hailey. FUNimation named her Vi Graythorn.
If the name changes had come from the Japanese copyright holders. They should be consistent. Which tells me that they chose these names.
 
VIZ Media is an inferior publisher to scanlation groups and more people should be calling them out for that. As with Del Rey, which is a superb publisher, needs more positive attention to their great work. I really enjoy buying their mangas.

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