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Trouble for DMP's Tezuka Kickstarter projects?

Date: 2014 December 07 23:30

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Digital Manga Publishing have been trying to realign their plans to publish all of Osamu Tezuka's works on Kickstarter but things are not going well for them. Otaku News looks at the latest problem and the campaigns in general.

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Digital Manga Publishing has been using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to raise funds for the past two years or so to publish the works of Osamu Tezuka. After having success with Swallowing the Earth ($8,806 raised), Barbara ($17,032 raised) and the combined books of Unico, Atomcat and Triton of the Sea ($49,411 raised), DMP have been using Kickstarter to get the rest of the catalogue published. In early October of 2014, they decided to try and publish over thirty volumes of manga with an initial goal of $380,000 and an upper goal of $589,000. It did not get funded, barely getting in over $26,000. So now, they have a new campaign for a two volume story by Tezuka. The following article was originally published over on and is reprinted and augmented here with permission.

The other day, DMP sent out a survey request to people who have been backing their Tezuka Kickstarter projects asking them about what they wanted from the next lot of Kickstarter campaigns and what they didn't want in the next few campaigns.

OK, so I've written over the last few weeks about DMP and their attempts to capitalise on their initial successes with Swallowing the Earth, Barbara and Unico. They tried to fund one enormous campaign that didn't succeed even after trying to explain itself further. Finally, after all that, they decided to push reset on their efforts and started again with a short Tezuka story, Ludwig B. , so I thought maybe they could learn from it and move on. So when they sent out their email, I thought "hey, great, I'll fill this out and be as helpful as possible!"

They also added this line at the end of the email:

DMP Kickstarter Details

I swear, every time I give DMP an inch, they want a mile. Why in God's name are DMP putting together a kickstarter campaign for a series of books that they already successfully printed? They can't realise what this is doing to the goodwill they've built up so far. While backers had some doubts from the first lot of campaigns, the Tezuka World campaign really stretched that credibility to breaking point. If they are committed to printing all of the Tezuka catalogue (admittedly over the next 20 years by their figures) then retreading the same steps from their previous successes doesn't make sense. When Swallowing the Earth and Barbara especially were released, they were only on sale on Amazon for a short time before they went out of stock. So in one sense giving people a chance to own the first lot of DMP kickstarters is good but not like this. DMP state that the reason for reprints is for the first lot, they underestimated the demand for them.

@EeepersChoice @blakout31 @MichaelToole We'll probably only ask to reprint the 3 b/c we didn't know the demand for it we didn't print enough

- Digital Manga, Inc. (@digitalmanga) December 5, 2014

OK, but then the next question is why don't you reprint it yourselves without Kickstarter. Alas, DMP have an answer for me.

@EeepersChoice @blakout31 @MichaelToole Mainly b/c there's not enough demand to do another reprint normally, would be expensive/slow sales - Digital Manga, Inc. (@digitalmanga) December 5, 2014

Stop, I'm confused. So you can reprint the first ones because you know there's a demand for it but you can't reprint them without help from Kickstarter? This smacks of "We don't want to waste our money, meagre though it might be, on stuff that is popular but doesn't sell well when we could waste it on yaoi and hentai? Now, before we go any further, I've nothing against yaoi and hentai titles. But if you're unable to print a successful Kickstarter book with print on demand services like Amazon's Createspace (because let's face it, other than Unico, the DMP KS books are not top quality anyway) then it doesn't say much for your efforts for tackling the rest of the Tezuka library. As I talked with the DMP Twitter officer, it became clear that they didn't intend for the request about the reprints to come across as flogging a dead horse. But now the damage is done. People are starting to ask questions about whether DMP should be trying to kickstarter Tezuka rather than concentrating on other manga authors who need a hand getting to a wider audience. If people will kickstarter the God of Manga, why couldn't an author like Ishinomori (Cyborg 009) or Keiko Takemiya (To Terra, Andromeda Stories) get published using crowd funding? Now, since DMP signed a huge contract with Tezuka Productions, I don't think they'll be ones to do it. Instead, DMP now have to figure out how to approach a crowd that is rapidly wondering what exactly is their role in this exercise? Are we backers or just going through the motions of publishing Tezuka because we NEED to do it or else nobody will ever publish Tezuka again in our lifetime? At this stage, I'm almost spent with DMP. I can't understand how they are going about this so badly when their initial success with Swallowing the Earth and Barbara showed they could run a Kickstarter and raise the money needed. I am going to go out on a limb and say that certain team members at DMP who were there for the first lot are not there now and if I am correct, the team that is being left in charge of the Kickstarter campaigns either doesn't know what they are doing or they are not getting the support they need from management. Every time they launch one of these campaigns, it's like every fact or announcement we drag out of them comes from Twitter or Facebook and not in the form of a status update on the campaign page. Every time they launch a campaign in the middle of an existing one I am guaranteed to read about the new campaign as a status update. But I have to wait four months to see any proofs from the book I'm backing or what the print quality will look like. It's like the rest of the company knows what they're doing but the Kickstarter team doesn't get the memo. Look at how different the Twitter account deals with queries:

@digitalmanga @blakout31 @MichaelToole With respect, I don't think you guys realise how toxic this makes your other plans. Why are we
- Phillip (@EeepersChoice) December 5, 2014

@digitalmanga @blakout31 @MichaelToole kickstarting reprints of another kickstarter? Why can't you just reprint them normally?
- Phillip (@EeepersChoice) December 5, 2014

@EeepersChoice @blakout31 @MichaelToole Since Triton, we've made sure to print a large amount to supply demand. Same w/Captain ken/newer KS
- Digital Manga, Inc. (@digitalmanga) December 5, 2014

When I suggested they include the out of print KS books are stretch goals rather than be part of a new campaign, they took it on board:

@EeepersChoice @blakout31 @MichaelToole Hmm.. as a stretch goal might be do-able actually! :O I will ask upper mgmt bout it and see
- Digital Manga, Inc. (@digitalmanga) December 5, 2014

But that begs the question: why didn't someone at DMP ask whether we wanted a new campaign of the older books before going ahead and stating that it was coming? It's like I bought a new iPhone and a year later Apple said "Yeah, some people didn't buy the older iPhone so we're reprinting them so that will be this year's model." I'm oversimplifying it but the effect is the same. If we are all working toward getting Tezuka published, stopping to do a Best of collection every so often will eat into the schedule and grind an already laborious task into an insurmountable obstacle. Their latest campaign Ludwig B., is 18 days from completion and still has to raise ten thousand dollars. I really hope it makes it.

This is the last time I will say this. DMP needs to do the following:

* Appoint a team within the company to deal with the Kickstarter project and ONLY the project. If there is such a team already at work, they need to step up their game and start engaging their backers on Kickstarter, not social media. As far as they are concerned, social media may as well not exist. The only people who matter are the backers. Not Twitter or Facebook followers, just the backers.

* Stop with the gimmicks. I don't need an Astro Boy toy as a tier reward (though it would be nice to have one), I want more books. Stop giving me stuff like Japanese tankobans. I can't bloody read Japanese, why would I want to own Japanese language books.

* Launch beta pages of each campaign BEFORE IT LAUNCHES so backers can tweak it with DMP staff. I don't care what your contract with Tezuka Pro states, it's my money and I'm a backer. My needs come first if you want to print this book.

* State stretch goals! It's ok for you to hold off on telling us the stretch goals after the first five or so days but not telling us after ten days is unforgivable. If you're going to struggle to raise the cash, consider that if people know that there's an amazing prize further up, they would be more inclined to pledge.

* Stop telling us you're listening to us when you're clearly not. Falling back on the tired "Our President is the one calling the shots" line is great when you're cornered but when nobody seems to have a clue outside of DMP as to what that plan is, you've just had a failure to communicate.

I want DMP to succeed. I really do. But if this current malarkey of "Oh, thank you for the hints and feedback. We'll take it back to management!" followed by more of the same continues, I'm done. I've backed every campaign since Barbara and I'm happy to back Ludwig B. But if DMP screws up once more, it will be my last and I'll spend my money elsewhere.

Source: Eeeper\'s Choice
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