AKA: A proposal for an idealised digital manga service.
Discussions about digital manga often gravitate towards talking about disliked or inconvenient parts of the services that are currently available. This typically gives way to talking about a better system, and a hypothesised ideal provision for reading digital manga legally that ensures a fair deal for readers and producers alike.
If any amount of attention is paid to this conversation it then normally runs smack-dab into people offering counterpoints, disagreements, and generally bringing the whole thing back down to earth with a bump.
Or maybe it's just me doing this and driving everyone else nuts, who knows.
This post exists to outline "The Dream" - a hypothesised ideal digital manga service unfettered by the constraints of reality. I am already well aware of the many limits, pre-existing structures, and other issues that would frustrate this service either entirely or in part.
I am setting these issues aside on purpose in order to fully communicate a desired end state that, even if it will never be realised 100%, is still something that I feel is valuable to aim towards.
It is worth bearing in mind that many of the elements of "The Dream" are already being met in the realm of Pirate/Illegal sources and as such, whether you like it or not, are already part of audience expectations that need to be met in order to wrest people away from these undesirable venues.
Educating people on legal options is part of the battle, but if someone indicates their use cases and all you can do is shrug, then that education is much less likely to change behaviour.
In the interests of clarity and brevity, I'm going to present this in the form of bullet points. It's either this or I write a User Story, sorry. Working in IT has broken my brain.
- "The Dream" is for a Digital Manga subscription service, where a user pays a monthly fee to gain access to a large library of digital manga
- Ad-Free for subscribers
- Provides a reduced, rotating subset of Manga for non-subscribers to read
- Without limits on the amount of content that can be read in a timespan for subscribers
- Will have a web-based viewer, accessible from any (reasonable) web-enabled device
- As well as native applications for major mobile and desktop computing platforms
- Will allow caching of content to read offline
- Will synchronise progress, bookmarks, and reading history across platforms, so you don't lose track of where you are in a series/volume
- Free of Region Restrictions or discrepancies in regional availability
- Available in as many languages and regions as possible (ie. not English-Only)
- Has a storefront to allow for the outright purchasing of Digital Manga
- Storefront available for both subscribers and non-subscribers
- Purchases will be available via the existing web and app readers, as well as being Download-To-Own (DTO) even should a subscription lapse
- DTO files will be available in standards-compliant common formats (PDF, EPUB, CBZ, MOBI, others as they emerge)
- DTO files will be portable, and should be DRM-Free (as far as is possible)
- Integrated community platform to discuss, recommend manga (Forum? Discord? Whatever the kids use these days)
- Whatever community is provided should have strong moderation to ensure it is a safe and welcoming place for anyone to visit
- No Nazis (This requirement should not need to be said, but it is 2018 so I have to explicitly mention it)
Again, I fully expect that "The Dream" will go unrealised, that is why it is a dream!
Even so, as mentioned above, I believe it is a positive target to aim towards in order to expand the accessibility of digital manga, its' possible audience, and the service experienced by readers. It would also crowd out the bad actors currently squatting in the space - you cannot defeat piracy entirely, but if you make it the less convenient option then the legitimate method will become the rightful default. Hell, look at anime streaming. It didn't happen overnight but the current landscape is one that fans would never have dared imagine in prior years.
I have spent too long thinking about it and have likely neglected some details - If I have missed anything off, just let me know via the contact page!