Kickstarter to print doujins

With the death and resurrection of sadpanda, the question that many had were about archiving and saving materials. While this is all nice and good on the surface, and yours truly considers the older material to be paramount in terms of pop-culture history, the fact is that the site is working under the gray label of piracy. The creators of these comics know that it exists, and sometimes they have despaired about the situation. Some of them have considered sadpanda’s existence as net loss of revenue due to their comics being there rather than every user buying their comics while others recognise that piracy does not equal loss of sales. Not every person pirating something would’ve bought any of it in the first place, though piracy does seem to work as a sort of free advertisement, where people who truly enjoy the work probably fork the money for the product they consumed.

However, with doujinshi this is somewhat difficult. Sites like DMM and DLSite offer some comics to buy and read, but the issue here is that half of them are under DRM, have low image quality and is digital only. These are Japanese services with English storefronts, though you can find English language stores like Project Hentai that offer purchases in physical form in English. However, with shops like these, there are usually very limited quantity of each item and the prices can be a bit high at times.

NijiGEN aims to alleviate this situation somewhat, a Kickstater that aims to allow more direct sales between the customer and the creator. NijiGEN’s model would be to sell you a high resolution version of the comic which you could then print. This approach would eliminate the problem of low-resolution files that are kicking around, even on official store sites, but they’d be in a timed format. The intention is that you’d be able to print your own physical copy of the comic via a printer. Ultimately, the cost of printing your own comic is relatively low, even when you pick up the proper paper and tools to do it. With the possibility of modifying and selling e.g. postcards and such, and then selling them forwards in a limited fashion.

This sounds really stupid, why would this be any success? The creators of this Kickstarter are aware of three things, which launched the idea; the existence of potential market for physical medium in Overseas market, the censorship that doujinshi and other adult material books have gone through in Japan in recent decade (especially when going toward the Olympics) and the issue of piracy. However, the market section for this Kickstarter is extremely niche. First you’d need to be a person who wants physical copies of these comics, and secondly you’d need to be in the mindset of taking part of the whole doujinshi creation. Part of self-publishing is either ordering your book made or printing and binding things at home. I have to say, binding your own book is extremely fun. This service would allow the user to bypass large amounts of problems that may arise through ordering, like possible customs or legal issues. By the end of the day, printing your own quality comic would cost less than buying one and having it shipped from an online shop.

You of course face few problems, which probably break this model. Not all people have a decent printer, opting for a cheap one instead. Secondly, not all people know how to print properly. While standard settings are usually fine, the reality is that printing is a rabbit hole of problems and options, proofing and sometimes even trial and error. The timed source files will also rub some people the wrong way, putting them under pressure to get the most out from their purchase before the files expire. Some people would rather just buy the high resolution files and be done with them and not bother with physical editions at all, something that most modern audiences that have never been part of self-creating circles would always opt for first. This is why I don’t see the Kickstarter becoming funded, outside the whole issue of this being a Kickstarter, but the core idea is still valid; the closest second the customer who can’t buy the books they want, self-printing. The customer that is most common nowadays expects to be readily catered without any much effort put in themselves. The same reason why model kits don’t sell nowadays outside niche audience and have become extremely easy to build and are readily built. Self-made, or handicrafts, is not in fashion currently.

I’d like a service like this. The concept of involving the customer as part of the circle as the person responsible for final edits, printing and binding, is great. Extremely niche, and that’ll probably be its doom.

While you’re looking stuff on Kickstarter, consider backing Your Everyday Life with Konko for some headpats and relaxing storytelling.