Why do people download scanlation?

The shouts have become louder and louder recently as America tried to put barrier on internet. Piracy is bad and it cut the money flow-mostly for distributors. That’s what they say. But, in reality, piracy is just a reactive act from what’s happening in the world.

Otaku keeps downloading manga and fansubbers keep scanlating. Why?

1. The original came too late

The gap between Japanese version and local version lies too long. Take [Good Hand Teru] for example. While it’s running for its 38th volume in Japan, we’re still stuck in volume 12 here. It’s causing dissatisfaction. Remember what John Stacey Adams said about comparing yourself with others then perceive that others receive more than you have you become dissatisfied.

2. Official translation is (sometimes) unfit

This is personal experience. I always buy the manga I like when it’s available in local bookshops. But, sometimes the translation is suck. I think some official translators need to learn Japanese’s custom to fit the context and not translating like goggle. I even suggest that translator should be an otaku, too!

3. Scanlation is preview

Scanlation is like commercial for fans before they decide whether to follow the series (and buy the original work if its available in nearest book store). Most of the comic books are wrapped in plastic here and I bet nobody wants to buy cat inside sack, right?

4. It’s cheaper

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier to see manga rather than going out to bookstore. Do you mind taking 8-10 MB zipped file every week? It sounds like a flash, ha?

5. The long tail effect

Chriss Anderson wrote it in his wonderful book called “The Long Tail” about how Internet expanding a product’s lifetime. Having manga in digital form preserves it in longer time. You can search anytime to get 20 years or older manga. But, what happen to real books? Unpopular manga is hardly get reprinting. The expansion stops by the time publisher decide to terminate it’s publishing.

Honestly, mangaka should thank fansubbers for expanding their works through the world.  If it’s not because of them, fans all over the world may not recognize the manga. In my country, the original manga is released due to fans’ request after seeing the scanlation. See? The scans encourages publisher to release the tankoubon. Fansubber and fans are not mangaka’s enemies *distributors are!!*

We all should realize that we’re paying too much for each comic book we bought because of distribution. The flow of knowledge should follow communication advances. Based on local research, 60 percent from book’s price is escalating for distribution’s cost. Aren’t we paying too much? In this era of digitalization, distributor should change their strategies. Instead of screwing distribution, they should focus on making more and more content.


Scanning manga is hard to stop unless:

  1. There’s easier way to get manga, like providing original manga through the net. I believe otakus are willing to pay for it.
  2. Less money required obtaining manga. It means cutting of distribution and third party.
  3. The producers push merchandise business to support mangaka. Learn from tokusatsu series that made all profit by selling toys. In other word, expand the business.


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