yaoi manga Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources

Kindle update: The return of Delivery Cupid

Pet on Duty is back!

Ever since the news broke last week that Amazon had removed some yaoi manga from the Kindle store, people, myself included, have been bombarding them with questions. No answers have been forthcoming, however. Amazon is like a huge black box with a screen in the side that sells books. What goes on inside it is anybody’s guess; their PR people don’t return emails or calls, and their customer service department spits out bland, automated responses like

“Occasionally books are removed from the Kindle Store for various reasons. We do not have any specific details about why this particular book may have been removed. The book’s publishers decide if a book is to be made available for the Kindle, and they can change this status at any time.”

In the Case of the Missing Manga, Amazon fails the Turing Test. It is obviously a robot.

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Kindle update: More disappearing manga

Delivery Cupid: No longer delivered wirelessly to your Kindle

Last week we reported that Amazon had removed several yaoi manga from the Kindle Store on the grounds that it did not meet their content guidelines. I spoke to Fred Lui of Digital Manga Publishing, the publisher of the deleted manga, and he said that Amazon didn’t give any more specific reason than that, although he did note that there seemed to be a new guy who was being “overzealous.”

The Kindle Store still offers plenty of yaoi manga, including some fairly steamy titles, so Amazon doesn’t seem to be deleting all the yaoi by any means. However, Animate U.S.A., a Japanese publisher that publishes yaoi manga exclusively on the Kindle, reports that Amazon has removed some of their books as well. I e-mailed them last week to ask about this, and this is the reply I got:

As you may know, some titles are already removed by Amazon without any specific reasons.

We just know that the titles contain content that is in violation of their content guidelines.

The e-mail did not include specifics, but I looked through their press releases and came up with three titles that Animate announced but that are not currently available in the Kindle Store: vol. 1 of Mister Mistress (vol. 2 is still available, and both can be bought used in print through Amazon), Delivery Cupid, and Pet in Love, a Pet on Duty side story (Pet on Duty is still available). I have e-mailed Animate to confirm that these titles were removed by Amazon and not by the publisher.

While the deleted Digital titles are still available via the Nook and Digital’s own eManga website, Animate U.S.A. publishes only to the Kindle, so these titles are no longer available digitally.

A side note: In the earlier post, we mentioned several non-yaoi graphic novels that seemed to be at about the same level of explicitness as the ones deleted; one of these, Christmas Creampie, is no longer available in the Kindle Store.

Too hot for Kindle? Amazon pulls yaoi from Kindle store

Yaoi manga is a niche genre, but like all niche genres, it has a devoted following. Yaoi readers gobble up the books like romance fans read Harlequin novels, which is not surprising as they are basically the same thing, except that yaoi 1) is manga, 2) is a love story between two men, and 3) often includes lots of sex.

It’s hard to know whether number 2 or 3 above is responsible, but Amazon has instructed at least one publisher to remove its yaoi books from the Kindle store, while allowing considerably more explicit male-female titles to remain. Digital Manga Publishing, which puts out several lines of yaoi, ranging from the fairly tame June imprint to the pretty steamy 801, posted this notice on its blog yesterday:

Recently Amazon has become more strict in enforcing their content requirements for ebooks. Several DMP books that have been available online since 2009 are getting the axe, beginning with our 801 Media titles like Weekend Lovers and King of Debt. However, in the last few days the issue has spread to the June imprint by Amazon’s refusal of The Selfish Demon King, and the removal of The Color of Love from the Kindle store. We fear that Amazon may target more of our books for removal so we’re warning all Amazon Kindle store users that providing you with our content may become more difficult in the future. However, if you purchase our ebooks before Amazon decides to remove it from their store you will still be able to access the book from your account.

All the books mentioned are already gone from the Kindle store, and several are missing from Amazon’s print book selection as well.

(Warning: NSFW image below.)

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Libre confirms cease-and-desist notices

The Japanese Boys Love publisher Libre has confirmed reports that it has been sending cease-and-desist notices to scanlation groups working in English.

Libre told ANN that, as a publisher, it was entrusted with the rights to these works by their authors, so it is important for the company protect those rights. Libre wants readers — not just in Japan, but worldwide — to understand that “protecting the authors’ rights goes hand-in-hand with producing their works.” Libre pointed towards a page on its website which details its stance on copyrights.

Libre’s move is unusual in that the groups in question are mostly scanlating unlicensed manga — unlike more blatant groups such as Manga Fox or Onemanga.com who scanlated or simply posted scans of already licensed English-language manga on their sites.

Since last April, Libre’s parent company Animate has been publishing yaoi manga in both English and Japanese on the Kindle.

Japanese company stops American scanlators

See You in the School of the Muse, one of several Libre titles available in Japanese on the Kindle

Several scanlation groups are reporting that they have received cease and desist notices from the Japanese publisher Libre, which specializes in yaoi manga. Baka-Updates reports that the scanlation groups Attractive Fascinante, Bliss, and Liquid Passion & Biblo Eros all received C&D notices, and the latter two have taken down or removed links to content owned by Libre. It looks like Blissful Sin has received a notice and complied as well.

On the one hand, it’s a little surprising that Libre is targeting these groups, as they seem to only scan manga that hasn’t been licensed in the US, and the audience for yaoi is relatively small anyway. On the other hand, Libre has been pretty aggressive in asserting its rights. The company was formed following the 2006 bankruptcy of another yaoi publisher, Biblos and picked up the rights to the magazine Be x Boy and the work of several creators. The American publisher Central Park Media was publishing series by these creators, but Libre accused them publicly of violating their IP rights. At the time, Ed Chavez (now the marketing director for Vertical, Inc., but at the time simply a blogger with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Japanese manga scene) commented on how unusual it was for a Japanese publisher to call out an American licensee, in English, no less. CPM disagreed but ultimately filed for bankruptcy, making the whole thing moot.

And now we get to the heart of the matter: Libre is publishing yaoi for the Kindle, under the aegis of parent company Animate, so they are obviously protecting their market. Animate publishes four titles a month in English, but they also occasionally put up a book in Japanese as well. Although most serious scanlators take down their scanlations of books as soon as they are licensed, there may be less lag time in this case. Or maybe they are just being aggressive; Libre is a member of the anti-scanlation coalition formed earlier this year.

The general reaction seem to have been pretty mature—the readers realize that scanlations are illegal, and they are resigned to it. Unlike Onemanga.com fans, they aren’t demanding that someone set up a new free manga site for them or that manga publishers just “learn to deal with it” and let the scanlators continue, although one reader did pen an embittered open letter to Libre on her LJ, in which she forcefully makes the point that she buys lots of yaoi, some of it directly from Libre—and details the order she just canceled. It’s an interesting twist on the voting-with-your-dollars argument, but one that most of us can’t pull off as we don’t buy Japanese manga to begin with.

(First spotted via Cait Branford on Twitter.)

The return of Youka Nitta

Youka Nitta's new site

Youka Nitta's new site

Youka Nitta has a niche following in this country and in her native Japan—she creates yaoi manga—but as anyone who follows that scene can tell you, that is a pretty hard-core niche. Two years ago, she admitted that she had traced some of her art from fashion advertisements, which was not just an aesthetic sin but also an infringement of copyright. The magazine that published her work, Be-Boy Gold, apologized and dropped her from the lineup before she had completed her 14-volume series Embracing Love.

Well, Nitta is back. Last year she wrapped up Embracing Love in Japan, and this week, Animate U.S.A., which publishes manga in English on the Kindle announced that that last volume would be available, on the Kindle, in Japanese. They are also publishing two other Nitta manga in English this month. Some non-Japanese speakers claim they can read untranslated manga because the visuals carry the story, but that has never been my experience. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that Animate sees enough of a market for untranslated manga to make it available to fans. And Nitta has launched a website, with quite a bit of English content, “in response to the huge demand from fans,” according to Animate.

Digital’s ‘secret project': If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em

All Nippon Air Line, from Digital's June imprint

All Nippon Air Line, from Digital's June imprint

Digital Manga Publishing mostly publishes yaoi manga, essentially Harlequin romances with two willowy men in the lead roles, although they do have a handful of other titles. Yaoi manga, also known as Boys Love (BL) or shounen-ai, are generally one-shots, rather than series; from what I have heard, their sales are modest but pretty consistent from one book to the next.

There are yaoi scanlation sites, but most of the big pirate sites leave BL alone, so it’s not too surprising that Digital did not join the coalition announced last week to fight online manga piracy. Hikaru Sasahara, the president of Digital, told Publishers Weekly reporter Kai-Ming Cha that the problem wasn’t piracy, it was the high price of licenses from Japan and the reluctance of the licensors to part with digital rights. And now he is thinking of attacking that problem.

Last week, the website The Yaoi Review caught word of a “secret project” and confirmed the details with Sasahara: The company would publish manga online only (at least at first) and have scanlators translate it. Translators would apparently not be paid up front but on the back end, based on sales. The problem with the current system, Sasahara explained, is that publishers must pay the Japanese licensor an advance of $2,000 to $5,000, but it takes about a year to get a book translated, lettered, printed, and distributed, during which time their money is tied up. This makes publishers reluctant to license any title that’s not a sure bet. Sasahara’s idea is to have scanlators do what they have been doing all along, but legally and with the possibility of getting cut of the sales, the idea being that a lower up-front investment minimizes the company’s financial risk and allows it to publish a greater range of titles.

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Manga publisher up for sale at rock-bottom price

Yakuza in Love, from Aurora's Deux imprint

Yakuza in Love, from Aurora's Deux imprint

Attention all you fans who think you know more about the manga industry than the publishers: Here is your big chance. A Southern California manga publisher is up for sale for a measly $300,000—and that includes inventory valued at $338,461. Informed speculation on the web is that this is Aurora Publishing, which has been known to be having financial issues lately. The announcement states that “This company was founded in 2006 as the wholly owned subsidiary of one of the Japanese manga power houses.” Aurora is indeed a subsidiary of the Japanese company Ohzora, and it is located in Torrance, California, although it began publishing in 2007, not 2006. Interestingly, Aurora just removed all its manga from the Netcomics online comics site. Aurora’s main manga line is kind of meh, and their sexy LuvLuv series was probably out of sync with American tastes, but their yaoi imprint, Deux, was well loved by fans for its quality and content, and they will be missed.

Kindle: It’s where the boys are

DeliveryCupid

Delivery Cupid

I held off on posting about this at first because I wasn’t sure what was going on, but the mystery seems to have been cleared up, so here goes:

About a week ago, with little fanfare, a yaoi manga called Delivery Cupid showed up on Kindle. This caused a small flurry of excitement among yaoi fans, because the book had been licensed by Broccoli Books and then became unavailable when the publisher folded.

Then the buy feature was disabled, and Yamila Abraham, the publisher of Yaoi Press and someone who knows a great deal about the biz, speculated that was because whoever put the book up on Amazon didn’t actually own the rights to it (something that has happened before, most notoriously with George Orwell’s 1984). Abraham noted that the cover of the Kindle edition was the same as Broccoli’s, which was different from the original Japanese cover — in fact, Libre, the Japanese licensor, wouldn’t have had the rights to that cover.

The reality turns out to be less sinister. As Simon Jones notes on his cheerfully NSFW Icarus Comics blog, a company called Animate is publishing Libre books for the Kindle. They list four April releases and promise more to come. Interestingly, two of the April books, Delivery Cupid and Pet on Duty, were Broccoli books, and the other two, Golden Cain and Love a la Carte, were originally licensed here by Central Park Media’s BeBeautiful imprint — also now defunct. In the interest of research, Simon read Delivery Cupid on the Kindle and says that it looks pretty good both on the device itself and on his PC.

As for the mystery of the cover, former Broccoli editor Shizuki Yamashita comments at the Yaoi Press blog that Broccoli waived all the rights to the translations, design, etc. of its books when it folded, and it even gave the publishers digital files in case they wanted to publish the books in English themselves.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I was contacted recently by someone from a large financial firm who was doing research into yaoi manga trends, with a particular interest in digital distribution. I know she talked to other folks in the biz as well, and I have no idea what specific project she was working on, but it’s interesting to think that I may have played a small part in this little drama — or perhaps in some future project.


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