Despite its name, Digital Manga Publishing (DMP) was a print publisher for the first 12 years of its existence; founded in 1996, the company didn’t begin publishing digitally until 2008. Since then, however, they have become a leader and innovator, with manga available on every digital platform imaginable: ComiXology, Kindle, Nook, even Wowio.
The heart of DMP, though, is its website, eManga. It started out as a streaming site on which you could buy points to “rent” or “buy” manga. A rental lasted for 48 hours, while buying gave the user unlimited access–as long as he or she was online. There were no downloads.
Over the years, DMP revised the website several times, eliminating the rental, adding other publishers (some of whom have since disappeared) and finally, late last year, allowing readers to download their manga. In typical DMP fashion, they offer seven different formats, which are readable on a wide variety of different devices.
I asked production associate Amy Koga, who helped develop the site, about some of the changes.
Good E-Reader: Why did you decide to allow downloads?
Amy Koga: I think one of the biggest reasons was we recognized that the industry was changing, and that is what the customers wanted: They wanted downloadable files they could download and keep. This is where it’s all at.
Why are you offering so many formats?
I was the one to decide on that. As we were testing, we noticed so many devices had different ways of displaying different file types, and we wanted to be sure our books looked great on different devices. E-pubs look great on e-ink devices, but on the iPad they don’t look as good as an Apple-restricted fixed-layout book. We wanted to be sure the customers had a fixed layout file to download.
Logistically, is it difficult to transition your readers over?
It took time. It was not an easy transition. It definitely took a couple of weeks, and on the tech side, our IT department worked overtime. They worked really hard to get it out. We were able to do it. The migration actually went much easier than we thought, so it wasn’t too difficult, but there were some bumps along the way.
How have readers reacted?
I’m not sure if I can give you an exact number, or any kind of ballpark number, but I can say we have gotten positive reviews and positive feedback from a lot of customers. They are very happy with downloads, the formatting, and the way eManga now looks. We have seen a very large increase in order at eManga.com.
Are you going to keep your standalone apps and keep your manga available on comiXology and other services, or do you plan to fold all your digital sales into eManga?
We are not going to limit ourselves at all. We have Android and iOS apps that we are going to continue to update and offer, we offer books through comiXology and iVerse, and we still offer books for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo,
What are the most popular formats?
We are still colleting data. So far it seems a lot of people like PDFs, but we don’t know yet the final verdict.
Who are your readers?
As far as our customers, what we know of them is based on what they purchased and what they tell us and how they react. We try to get them to let us know what they want, and perhaps, if they prefer mobile devices, what is their device of preference. We are still collecting data.
There is some adult content on eManga, mixed with manga aimed at teens. Have you given any thought to making a separate site for 18+ manga?
We are trying to open our doors to everyone who likes manga. We are offering not just mainstream shoujo [girls’] and shonen [boys’] manga. Right now we have pages that if they are 18+ you have to agree to say you are 18+ to view them, and of course the credit card restriction is you have to be 18 or over. The younger audiences can use a PayPal account, and they will have access to the 13+ books.
So it goes by how you pay?
Yes, and also if you click on one of the hentai [adult] books. It will ask if you are 18 or over. We are just trying to keep our doors open to everyone at the moment and not to make it too difficult for people to get what they want.
A former book editor and newspaper reporter, Brigid Alverson started MangaBlog to keep track of her daughters¹ reading habits and now covers comics and graphic novels for Comic Book Resources , School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Robot 6, and MTV Geek. She also edits the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. Brigid was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards. Send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org