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Open letter to Libre Shuppan

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Sep. 13th, 2010 | 09:05 pm
mood: depresseddepressed

I don’t know for you, but my week-end was really gloomy... That most of my favourite scanlators went down one after the other under Libre’s “Cease & Desist” letter was a heavy blow. And the reason behind it made it worse:  Libre is looking to augment its market share of the English-speaking population through Animate USA: www.animate-world.com/

“Thank you for reading our books and for your continued support” they write at the bottom... sorry L-folks, the only thing I feel right now is the urge to smash a Kindle down your throat!!...argh, though satisfying, this was an entirely inappropriate reaction. So I stomped on it and rationalized it -- then I wrote everything down and sent it to Libre. It is not nice, but at least it is not uncivilized...

 

“To whom it may concern at Libre,

“I can guess at the love-hate relationship that probably exists between publishers, scanlators and mangakas. I get that scanlations are illegal, that scanlators don’t have a legal leg to stand on when it comes to publisher’s right and that they’re fiddling with things that do not belong to them. On the other hand, scanlators are the first and the strongest fans; if not for them, yaoi – as well as the publishers of yaoi and the mangaka creating yaoi – would not be where they are today.

“I read scanlations. A lot. But I also buy manga. A lot. Or more precisely: I buy tons of manga. In 3 years, I’ve bought more than 1500 manga books, 90% of it yaoi. I buy manga in English, in French and in Japanese – the later in bulks of 15~20 books.

“Every month, I spend more than US$ 200 on books. I usually choose the books I buy by reading scanlations. And when I love a manga or a mangaka’s work, I want to own it in book form. If it’s not available in English, I’ll usually get it from Japan, in Japanese. Yes Libre, I am one of your direct customer.

“As a customer, I am now incensed by the way you are trying to milk me. I understand that you want to secure a return on your investment in copyrights you bought and you certainly wish to promote mangakas’ work. But US$ 2.99 a chapter via Kindle? Force me to buy a $150 device I hate reading comics on, to be able to read a manga that will on the whole cost me US$ 15 or more?? And I’ll have to fish out another $10 if I want it in book format??? Then you even expect me to buy Japanese manga on Kindle at a higher price than a tankoubon????

“I said it already, but let me repeat to make sure it gets through: I choose which manga I buy by reading the scanlations. I DON'T buy blind. Libre decided to come down on the scanlators, and the company has every right to do so. However, has Libre realized it’s coming down on the readers and on the whole community that generates and expands the interest in yaoi and in its products? I discovered yaoi because of scanlators. If not for scanlators, my $200 a month would be spent on other books completely. Now, I feel like Libre is spitting on me and tying me down to steal my wallet.

“Therefore, I, as a reader and a buyer, am deciding that from now on, Libre will not see one of my dollar if I can help it. Not only will I stop buying Libre books, I will also cancel my subscription to ‘Be x Boy Gold Magazine’ (I’m going to get ‘Lynx’ instead *smile*); I’ll also stop buying Libre books licensed by French or English publishers. As a matter of fact, I already cancelled the following pre-ordered items:

“From Digital Manga Publishing:
KUKU Hayate’s “Love Sickness” (あやしの君の恋煩い)
KONOHARA Narise’s “Cold Light” and “Cold Fever”
KUWABARA Yuuko's “Garden Sky” (おそらでガーデン)
ZAOU Taishi’s “Mysterious Love” (恋は異なもの妙なもの)
HIGASHINO You’s “Deeply Loving a Maniac (超マニアックに愛して)

“From Asuka Editions:
MISHIMO Kazuhico’s “Lover’s Doll” (ラバーズ・ドール)
KITAKAMI Ren’s “The Path to Love” (みちづれポリシー)
TAKANAGA Hinako’s “Silent Love” (不器用なサイレント)
 “Be x Boy Magazine” – the French Edition

“And I wrote to the publishers to tell them why.

“Libre, I definitely don’t commend your business acumen. Already as an English reader, I was leery after the way you handled Be Beautiful. With your latest stunt, I feel like throwing up my hands in the air and giving you up for good... which really pisses me off because great mangaka are published through the Libre imprint. But I will stop buying “Aitsu no Daihonmei” and “Sex Pistols” (“Sex Pistols”, by the way, I have both in the English and the Japanese editions) and all the other great series, just to. Not. Buy. Anything. Of. Yours.

“So long, Libre.

“Signed: Joelle, a frustrated and dissatisfied ex-customer”

 

And everything I wrote in that e-mail, I did. Believe me, it was HARD to click on the cancel button for “Deeply Loving a Maniac”... T____T .  Also, cancelling orders from bookdepository.com is a pain.

 

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Comments {77}

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anapal200

(no subject)

from: anapal200
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
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Yes, you are right! If not the scanlation groups I would never know anything about manga at all. Including Yaoi.
I think Japanese as usual just they are thinking they understand what is to do business but never know what it is in general. Scanlation groups are their greatest promotion! Money free and worldwide! It’s direct way to millions fans. But they don’t understand that, don’t respect us and now they decelerate the war to us. I’m speechless. I thought they aren’t so stupid.
Yes, I also bought many Yaoi mangas and novels books and magazines. English and Japanese as well. I have Yamane Ayano all duplicated in English and Japanese. I even started to learn Japanese language. But I buy books only after I read them on scanlation. If the scalnlation sites would be closed – no more purchase for me. I don’t buy blind!
You are very brave – you wrote that truthful letter. It’s a pity what some other scanlation groups just have run into the bushes. Libre is just awfully stupid.
From Lithuania.

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mira77

(no subject)

from: mira77
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
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I'm not a buyer, but everything you wrote is freaking right.It feels like you spoke from my heart.Actually i would be happier to own the manga in a book format not on my PC, but where i live (Hungary) they only do shonen/shoujo manga...and of course Gravitation...-_-'
I wish i could buy manga from the US, but with the shipping price well, i cant afford it right now.
Anyway! Your letter is awesome, and it wasn't even harsh or rude.You just stated the truth..and cancelling those mangas..
Go Joelle! And i really hope after their "brave" actions toward scanlater groups they will answer you.

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BL Addiction and Beyond

(no subject)

from: xinxie
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)
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My love for yaoi deeply originated from scanlations. It's thanks to the scanlation community that I embraced yaoi more since then. I wholeheartedly agree about being acquainted to yaoi titles, mangaka, and publishers through scanlators. Japanese publishers or specifically Libre should take this even into consideration.

I have favorite yaoi titles under Libre like works of Youka Nitta, Konohara Narise, etc.. Based from the $ figures you've (Joelle) laid out, it's ripping an avid customer like you, really.

Although legality is legality. I know scanlators work mainly for free. But with the existence of online read manga sites (sites with ads) or paid sites, these trigger publishers to take action. I think there was a news regarding legal action against these sites. I'd hope that time it just remained in that target for licensed copies. Ah, Libre obviously spends a lot to even go after scanlators.

Even though I am not subscriber like you, I'd still feel the same way.

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toe_nail

(no subject)

from: toe_nail
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
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Kudos to you, sista for sending that courageous letter! This whole thing with Libre depresses me much. For me, scanlation is the only way to go considering buying from US cost an arm n a leg while i'm just a poor worker still mooching off in my parents house. But still, its a shame that Libre just sending off that twice cursed letter to scanlators instead of working out a more agreeable solutions. This whole things feels like 'wham bam thank you maam" situation to scanlator after all the hard work promoting their title to broader audience. Oh well, i'll just have to kiss Libre's title goodbye from now on ^_^

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rhapsodyangel

(no subject)

from: rhapsodyangel
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
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I'd like to send a letter too, because pretty much everything you said is also true for me. How do I contact Libre?

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joellemime

(no subject)

from: joellemime
date: Sep. 25th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
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Hello hello~~

Sorry I took so long to answer; my time is running away from me T___T

I sent the e-mail at the adresses I found at the bottom of Animate USA pages: http://www.animate-world.com/

... and they wrote back! 0.0 I'll be posting about it soon.

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yuki_the_rat

(no subject)

from: yuki_the_rat
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
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Holy shit, you just became my hero!!! I think a lot of us thought about doing the same thing as you but simply didn't have the guts to.

I am also someone who buys tons and tons of manga. I am someone who checks Akadot on a daily bases hoping to see that new manga is for sale. I spend around $100 a month on manga, and would spend more if the American publishers had not let the market go to shit, which made so little manga available.

I understand that what Libre is doing is well within their rights, and if they were offering an affordable option I would have no problem getting on board with it. But what is currently being offered is overpriced, and actually a lot of what Animate USA has I already own because I have been supporting the American yaoi market since day 1. I wouldn't be against buying a kindle to read new yaoi, but not at their current pricing. In fact, if they really want my interest how about they take their yaoi magazines and make them available in English online. I would pay for a subscription to that in a heartbeat and I am willing to bet most of you would too.

I have to say that I am very frustrated by the current American manga industry. I was someone who drove an hour cross down to pick up copies of bebeautifuls early releases. I was someone who worked closely with the comic shop near my office to get them to sale yaoi and also to help them decide which books they should place orders on. I watched their yaoi offerings grow from one tiny shelve to take up their entire back room.

And really why doesn't companies like DMP try to understand and listen to their fans. Anyone spent anytime at the DMP forum? It is full of people begging for titles that are behind in releases, and the comments get either ignored, criticized by DMP cheerleaders, or they get excuses when all they were looking for are solid answers.

So yeah I supported the American yaoi industry since day 1. I own the hard to find bebeautiful copies of viewfinder and Haru, because I bought them on release day. Yep I bought them only to get screwed when bebeautiful took a dive. I own almost every single yaoi manga/novel that has been published in America, and if I am missing a couple that is due to the fact that the book sold out before I was able to get a copy and we all know that can happen since god forbid we get a 2nd printing. The mindset with the American publishers seems to be if you didn't get it when we published that first tiny run you must not have wanted it in the first place. Nope they seem to see no future in their own product so what is a fan to do?

Oh and since I am obviously on a well needed rant lets take a minute and talk about censorship. How about the fact that June censored its books for years but never bothered to mention it to the readers? I feel so stupid and cheated that I bought all those books and in the end if I want to see what really happened I need to turn to the scans. Thing is the scanlation groups follow the rules and pull the scans when the product gets licensed so even that isn't an option sometimes. Hello June: Yaoi is for adults and if you don't realize that your customers are adults you are in the wrong business.

Okay okay, so now that I have gotten that off of my chest I will play devils advocate to myself (ha ha, sorry I seem to be on a role here):

Libre owns it: Yep it is true. They are right and scanlations are breaking the rules. I am an honest person and you know what? I would much rather do the right thing. Still can't they make it a little easier for us who want to do the right thing? Hello Libre I want to buy your projects in English, but I want to pay closer to what your Japanese audience pays. I also don't want to wait forever between releases, and I want the whole series start to finish, so even if it doesn't sale well there needs to be a way to allow fans to finish what they start.

Okay I feel better now. Hope you don't mind that I used your LJ to get that off of my chest.

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a_ngua

(no subject)

from: a_ngua
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
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"Hello Libre I want to buy your projects in English, but I want to pay closer to what your Japanese audience pays. I also don't want to wait forever between releases, and I want the whole series start to finish, so even if it doesn't sale well there needs to be a way to allow fans to finish what they start."

THIS!

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joellemime

(no subject)

from: joellemime
date: Sep. 25th, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
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WHAT? Juné censored the mangas?? ...I didn’t kow that. I much prefer reading a book, so once I have it I usually won’t re-read the scanlation… I saw how Yaoi Gen cut pages from “Breath” because of the underage thing, but at least they put a translation at the end and explained I could see where they came from.

Damn. Now that “Kimi no Ondo” is back on DMP’s release list, I wonder what they’re going to do with the whole kid-prostituting-for-the- teacher thing…

I stopped going to DMP forum, it was too annoying – there’s hardly any official answers given; the only “official” happenings in this forum are to delete any post mentioning scanlation. Notice that my whole little drama thing here DMP is the one publisher that didn’t write back…?

I appreciate your comment. In my posts I concentrated on how scanlators help the publishers, less on all that scanlators do fir the readers; to start commenting on the quality of the English mangas would be ‘nother whole long discussion… Up ‘till now Kitty Media forgetting to put 2 pages in “Thunderbolt Boys Excite” vol. 1, and putting them in vol. 2 took the cake for me (it was a tie-in with “Don’t Be Naughty” ‘s crappy editing), but Juné censoring stuff without my knowledge… that bothers me.

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(no subject)

from: jr_brown
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
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1. You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle files. There are free apps for PC, Mac, and various mobile devices.

2. Publishers don't owe you the right to preview everything they publish, especially since some subset of the "previewers" never buy. (How many? I don't think anyone knows. But if sales matched scanlation views, I don't think Libre would be after the scanlators.) What other industry lets you use their product free and decide afterwards if you want to pay for it?

3. Libre is not "spitting on [you] and tying me down to steal [your] wallet." They are offering their product in an alternate format that may be more suitable for the niche market that is BL. Yes, they don't have to pay for printing (which is typically around 10% of production costs, so they're not saving that much), but they still have to pay for translation, editing, and formatting (and Amazon's cut). Considering the apparent volume of sales, I doubt the Kindle offerings have made them a profit yet.

4. You have a perfect right to boycott whichever publishers you want for whatever reason you like. But this letter is just silly. The scanlators and readers are doing something which is illegal, and which is hurting the publishers (to what extent, we don't yet know); they are entirely within their rights to ask you to stop.

I read scanlations too. I'm sad that they may go away. But it was never something we had a right to. We should be happy they let it go on as long as they did.

@ commentator amamiya_rin: "Rules right now: No money no read." Yes. Exactly. They own it; if you want it, pay for it. Publishing is a business, not a charity. Fans are great, but if the fans aren't buying, there's no way to keep the business afloat. If you can't buy it, bug your library; they might surprise you with what they can get.

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yuki_the_rat

(no subject)

from: yuki_the_rat
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)
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If you don't mind. Can you tell me if the free apps let you zoom in on the kendle files? I have heard that you cannot, and if there are aps that let you view the files and also zoom I think some fans would be interested in that. Have you tried any out yourself?

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take it shake it

(no subject)

from: palereverie
date: Sep. 15th, 2010 05:16 am (UTC)
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I don't see how the letter is silly. It's close to what a lot of fans feel... and it's never a bad idea to share your wants with the company.

I would never expect them to accept scanlators, but it does show one thing many foreign buyers desire: the chance to preview series. No, customers don't have "right" to preview, but they clearly want it, so it wouldn't be a bad idea for the company to offer up more previews.

And with it being such a niche market, as you mentioned, it seems like it would be even worse to alienate fans by cracking down harshly on scanlators... yes, they should be policed, but to some extent it would be better to have an uneasy co-existence, go after only ones that continue scanning once a series is license in that language... because scanlations DO attract new fans, and generate buzz/publicity, no one is denying that are they? It's really a matter of whether there is less good coming from scanlations existence now than bad.

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decayingmoon

(no subject)

from: decayingmoon
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Hello! Came here via Yshare :)

The whole kindle business is frankly ridiculous. Taken that off my chest, I say very well done for the letter! *thumbs up*

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キム

(no subject)

from: oningyosan
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
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I agree with you wholeheartedly.
I do buy things from mangaka I adore. I even spent close to $40 dollars on an artbook once.

We are not made of money! Sometimes I will like the cover, but the inside sucks! Having a digital version is just not as rewarding as having a hard copy of your favorite manga.

We're sort of like collectors that want to examine our products before we purchase them?

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D-man

(no subject)

from: dthnix23
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
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I'm a scanlator, and to be honest I'm more on Libre's side than anything else [shock! horror! lol]

Libre needs to make money, in order to continue publishing. This is a fact. I fully support this; no money->no publications->no wonderful stories for me to read. The US/Worldwide market is just not as manga-mad [in general] as Japan itself, and that tends to translate as a much tougher market to crack, which in turn means small print runs and higher prices.

However, I also understand that as a reader, I want to be able to buy manga that I love, in my first language [English], at a reasonable price and a decent quality.

So, my response to Libre and the whole Kindle thing would be this:

'I have been doing, for going on two and a half years now, the entire process needed to release manga in electronic format. And I have been doing this for free.
If I have the time and resources, I can even manage 2 chapters a day. Working an average year at this [i.e. the same hours/days I work at my day job] I estimate I could manage 660 chapters a year. Let's say 500 for pacing's sake. That's *100* volumes of manga in a year. Remember, this is *just me*.
Now, if I charged $1 per chapter [$5 per volume] and I got 500 downloads per chapter [roughly 1/5 of what I get for my free work,] how much would that pay you [minus a reasonable yearly wage for me] per year? You do the math.'

Maybe that sounds pompous and a bit self-serving, but the message stays the same. Maybe as an all-rounder scanlator I'm a rarer breed, I don't know, but I could do that job, and do it well, for a fraction of what they seem to be trying to do it for.

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yuki_the_rat

(no subject)

from: yuki_the_rat
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
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"I have been doing, for going on two and a half years now, the entire process needed to release manga in electronic format. And I have been doing this for free. "

That is a very interesting point, and one that I think a lot of fans think about. I often wonder why the Japanese companies wouldn't just hire some people to translate their projects and put them for sale on the internet themselves. It would seem that they could do it much less expensive that way. Like I said in my rant above, I would happily purchase online subscriptions to Yaoi magazines published in English.

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ca11iope

(no subject)

from: ca11iope
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
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Good for you! Libre doesn't seem to realize the their greed will ultimately lead to less sales, and therefore less profit, by driving away their best customers. I'd love to know if you get a response from them, but I suspect that they will either ignore your email, or send you some condescending response that will further frustrate you (and us). I dearly hope that time - and crappy returns on their investment - will teach them the true reward their greed will earn them.

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Chasing Empty Dreams

(no subject)

from: megori
date: Sep. 14th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
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I have the same sentiments, however, I don't have the current willpower to stop purchasing Libre books altogether (well, those published in English anyway). I wish I did but with Viewfinder finally being released in English and all...*sigh*

I have a decently sized collection of manga, in which, about two years ago, hardly consisted of yaoi. Now, however, well more than half of my collection is of yaoi books. This C&D was a major blow and when I saw on Amazon that each chapter was being released for $2.99, my brain just couldn't figure out exactly HOW that was logical at all.

The most I can do is stop purchasing as much as I used to (which was about 5-10 books a month). I commend you for your action and I do sincerely hope this at least opens their eye a little. It would be great if they replied, although highly doubtful, but seeing as this has definitely infuriated a good number of their readers and buyers...I hope they at least put some thought into it.

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#Keyonce

(no subject)

from: kapuki234
date: Sep. 15th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
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Awesome letter.

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#Keyonce

(no subject)

from: kapuki234
date: Sep. 15th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
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Also, I hope you post the reply to this e-mail if in the case you receive one. I'm curious to know if they actually give a shit, given so many purchasers of yaoi books are, like you, in the same boat.

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roy13

(no subject)

from: roy13
date: Sep. 15th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
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Ow, you got guts, hum? XD I wet my pants... you are my hero!!! I feel vindicated, now. `ò.ó I hope they respond to your email and if they do you have to tell us.

Thank you so much! You made me very happy.

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makai_thief

(no subject)

from: makai_thief
date: Sep. 15th, 2010 07:30 am (UTC)
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Wow, that was some amazing words. And I have to say, i totally agree with you on the main point, if it weren´t for the scanlations, I would never buy a manga to start with. So, I wonder how many people as brave as you wil do do the same and just cancel their orders of Libre books. If everybody did it, they´d go under. I´ve never bought an English licensed book, only manga in Japanese, and after thsi C+D order I´m not going to do so even more.

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heartswell

(no subject)

from: heartswell
date: Sep. 15th, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
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Thank you so much for expressing the full rage of every upset yaoi fangirl feels against corporate evil <3333
Seriously.
The amusing thing is that most of these companies are doing exactly what you're going through. Losing their customers and the audience they gained purely through scanlations.
They're losing an international audience whose amount overwhelms the North American (/English-speaking) audience they're aiming for. It's infuriating because, to me, this is like giving the rest of the fans all over the world (excluding Japan and North America of course) the middle finger.
Personally, I attempted to buy manga, in Japanese and unlicensed, and guess what? It never came. Almost 80 dollars wasted. So this "don't read scanlations, please buy" is working great so far! And the thing is, I know I will NEVER EVER get the mangas I want published in my country (yay for Middle East!) and even if I TRY to buy them, they never come (they're probably confiscated; my last FOUR packages didn't arrive as well).
So what should fans in similar positions do? Cause I'm definitely not going to the US or anywhere near North America (can't really) just to buy manga. I can't buy Japanese manga from the source (because the postal industry here is so effing useless) and now, I'm not supposed to read scanlations. How's that workin' now, Mr. Big Corporate Publisher?
Supply-and-demand is such a pain sometimes. The only mangas they license are the typical fluffy BL bull (except some really good ones). They are not being considerate of their audience through pulling 'stunts' like these; and, as stated before: G.R.E.E.D. They only license what LOOKS like it can sell. Sell-able = customers = money. That's how these things roll. [/rant over]

And I can help you with shoving the Kindle down Mr. Big Corporate Publisher's throat <33

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fantasiser2004

(no subject)

from: fantasiser2004
date: Sep. 22nd, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
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Hi,

It was an amazingly well put letter. I feel for you, and for us.

May Libre Burn in ****,
FanTa

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NOT Elissa

Wow

from: elissa33
date: Nov. 16th, 2010 12:03 pm (UTC)
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It's no wonder this letter gained such fame in the BL fandom - it's so raw and powerful. I think it's amazing you sent this out to Libre, I'm sure many others have followed suit. I just hope you'll be able to bear the itch when you want to buy new manga that are licensed by Libre, really I do... I'm thinking of doing the same - will be hard, though.

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