I sometimes forget that people read my twitter feed, so here’s a few clarifying thoughts about DMP’s use of Kickstarter to fund manga projects by Osamu Tezuka. Their Kickstarter is at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digitalmanga/publish-osamu-tezukas-unico-in-english-in-full-col.
- I am really, really glad that there are going to be more Tezuka projects in print. They sell well for us, and UNICO in particular will do well through Little Island. I will be happy to own Barbara and Unico and whatever else gets printed.
- I like Kickstarter (and Indiegogo). I’ve backed 4 or 5 projects myself, and only one of them flaked out, and I’ve been assured that one will get sorted too. I think crowdfunding is a remarkable thing.
- It is disconcerting to see what should be a well-invested professional publisher need to take 380 preorders before a book is published. It’s only 380 pre-orders, that’s not a huge amount, but that is presented as the crux upon which the project will happen, or not. It is incredibly disconcerting as someone who is worked in the publishing industry in which this publisher operates for the past 16 years. It is disconcerting as a fan of Osamu Tezuka.
- I feel it speaks to a lack of confidence in the product, and a lack of confidence in the publisher to see a return in their investment of licensing this property, or has been hinted, “these properties”.
- Kickstarter has seemed to me, since its inception, like a method to reach beyond what might normally be possible into achieving something extraordinary.
- The basic acts of publishing are printing and promotion. If you are a publisher but you can’t print or promote, are you still a publisher? Some very smart people say yes, and I’m honestly not sure, because you’re unable to fulfill your basic roles and are counting on others to do that, and that’s where my conflict is.
- I want to stress that I feel this way about professional publishers using this apparatus, not an individuals or artists self-publishing, as an individual publishing a book and putting it into the world is still a remarkable thing. :)
- Further, I feel that this is a different apparatus than “accepting pre-orders”, as the implication is that publishing the work will require successful Kickstarting, which means Kickstarter is theoretically the beginning and end of the publisher’s commitment to printing and promotion, at least to get the book out into the world. And that number was 380 people. Again, some people see no problem with this, mostly because they want the material and the end justifies the means, and as a fan I’m on board. As someone who asks questions like “Well what’s a publisher then?” I’m not.
- I have no doubt that the future is going to continue to change the definition of “publishing” a great deal, and this is likely one such change. But it’s a change and it’s worth talking about and considering, rather than dismissing it as a new iteration of “pre-selling” or “pre-orders” or whatever.
- Finally, it should be stated that the opinions expressed above and at my Twitter are mine alone, and do not reflect any past, current, or future people who might employ me.