The anime and manga industry’s obsession with wanting to get rid of manga pirate sites isn’t anything new.
They’ve been obsessing about it for years to the point that they’re willing to part their hard-earned money to establish a dedicated organization just to combat these manga piracy sites.
It makes sense why they want to nip these websites at their buds so badly.
Consider this news article from ANN, stating that the industry is losing 1.19 trillion yen in 2021 to manga piracy.
That’s a huge number.
If they don’t do about it, they sure are going to lose more money as a result of these sites.
These manga pirate sites are to blame, of course!
Remember this old interview from Kamisama Hajimemashita mangaka, Julietta Suzuki, where she talks about manga piracy?
Well, here’s the part of the interview that gets people split in the middle.
Do you have any personal thoughts about people in other countries who scan manga and translate it for free online? It’s an illegal practice, but they scan the manga and they translate it and make it available for free. Do you have any thoughts on that? How do you feel as an artist about that?
No. I want them to stop it. I pay for something that I enjoy and people do not cherish something they get for free. It’s unappreciated.
To be honest, she’s not wrong about that.
It’s true that people aren’t going to appreciate what they get for free since they don’t spend money on them.
So, I don’t blame her for thinking that these sites do nothing but discourage people from buying the manga since they can read the manga for free on these sites.
Sure, you can argue that not all people who use manga pirate sites are like that. Some people will still go out and buy the manga even if they read the manga for free at first.
Well, you’re not wrong about that.
But the thing is they only make up a tiny fraction of the people who are using those sites. The rest of them aren’t going to go and get the manga even if these sites are closing down in droves.
Free doesn’t have to be a dirty word
While it’s true that people aren’t going to appreciate the things that they get for free, offering something for free can still be beneficial to the publishers and the original creators if they do it right.
Case in point: MANGA Plus.
Sure, you can’t read the chapters in between for all of their old manga series and the manga that just ended.
The only chapters that are available to read are the first and the final three chapters.
But even with such a restriction in place, you can still read all chapters of the ongoing manga series for free and legally.
What’s more, they even share the ad revenue generated from the ads on the app with the original creators.
So, even if you don’t care about buying the manga in digital or in print, the mangaka will still get their cut in the form of ad revenue share.
It’s different from the manga pirate sites where the creators don’t get anything at all, not even the ad revenue.
That sounds good. But does the free stuff they offer on MANGA Plus lead them to sales?
To be honest, I can’t say for sure how effective this strategy is since I doubt that Shueisha is willing to share the data with us.
But all I can say is it sure does work on me.
I doubt that I’ll ever consider buying SPY x FAMILY manga if it’s not because I read the manga for free on MANGA Plus.
The free offer strategy doesn’t need to be permanent too
While it may not be a problem for a publisher like Shueisha to give most of their completed and ongoing manga series for free since they have the scale to do so, that may not be the case for other publishers.
Let’s be real here. Not all publishers have tons of hit manga series as Shueisha does.
Just ask any non-fan and casual manga fans about the manga that they’re familiar with, I can bet that most of them are the Shonen Jump manga.
It’s rare to hear them mentioning series from other publishers, save for Doraemon.
So, it makes sense why some publishers are reluctant to give away some of their work for free.
They just don’t want to lose money, especially when their free book strategy doesn’t pan out like what they expect.
Well, here’s the thing. They can always offer the first book of the manga and light novels free for a limited time. Or at the very least, offer it at a deep discount.
People are still willing to give it a try even if they’re not free. That is as long as the price is low enough for them to buy.
It doesn’t have to be permafree like what Shueisha does with their manga.
That’s how I got most of the manga and light novels that I recommended on this blog. I bought them when they were at a deep discount.
Does it lead to people buying the next book in the series?
Well, I can’t say for sure for other people. But it sure does get me to buy the second book onward for Edens Zero.
Yes, I did get the first book from the series for free. But I did buy the second book and beyond because of how much I enjoyed the story.
But it can be a dud as well
While it’s true that I did buy the second book onward for Edens Zero, that doesn’t seem to be the case for other manga and light novels that I got for free or at a deep discount.
Well, I have no reason to buy the second book onward if the story seems blah to me.
Sad to say, many of the manga and light novels that I got for free or at a deep discount fall into this camp.
But does it mean that giving the books for free or slashing the price doesn’t work?
Of course, the answer is no.
As you can see from my experience, both of these strategies do work.
The only reason why it won’t work has a lot to do with the preferences. It’s not so much to do with free or giving a deep discount being a bad strategy.
If people enjoy the story, they will buy the second book onward especially when it’s on sale. It’s just as simple as that.
Julietta Suzuki isn’t wrong about people not appreciating the work when they can get it for free.
But just like everyone else in the industry, they’re also wrong about the idea of giving their work for free.
After all, free can be the best way to increase sales if they know how to make full use of it to generate profit.
If they know how to do it, these manga sites aren’t going to be a problem for them anymore.
P.S While I don’t offer any of my books for free just like what Shueisha did with their manga, you can get any of my books at a discount if you buy them directly from me through my Payhip store.
If original light novels in the thriller and suspense genre tickle your fancy, you can take a look at any of my books right here:
Use the coupon code SEKINAMAYUBLOG to receive 25% off on your purchase.
Just to let you know that you can only get any of my books at a discount on my Payhip store. You won’t be getting any discount at all when you buy my books on other retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple Books.
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