ANIME NEWS: J-Comi manga site completes trial run of crowd funding project

October 02, 2012

Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd.

Manga website J-Comi's new crowd funding project wrapped up its trial run in lightning speed, a hopeful sign for manga artists looking for new ways to make money as comic book sales continue to slump.

The "J-Comi FANding" project offered limited-edition e-book versions of manga series bundled with exclusive items such as previously unpublished works and author autographs.

Fan response was so overwhelming that the digital sets sold out about 20 minutes after going online at noon, with a total of 206 fans purchasing one of four titles up for grabs, including the complete "Love Hina" series by Ken Akamatsu.

The project was launched to celebrate the 10 million page views J-Comi has received in about a year and a half.

Akamatsu established the J-Comi website in 2011 to distribute out-of-print manga titles as DRM-free e-books with the permission of the authors and supported by advertising.

He said he was inspired to launch FANding by other crowd funding websites such as Kickstarter. In crowd funding, a large number of generally small-sum investors pool their money to support a cause or project.

Akamatsu adapted that idea for FANding by asking collector-minded fans to directly support manga artists through the purchase of special-edition sets.

Akamatsu was also inspired by Pottermore, a website that releases J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series as DRM-free PDF e-books available for iPhone, Kindle and many other devices.

Taking a similar approach, the J-Comi FANding aims to make e-books more easily accessible to many readers who still feel hesitant about buying digital books. Digital watermarks embedded in the PDF files prevent the e-books from being exposed to piracy or other illegal use.

For the beta round, FANding offered four sets of manga titles and exclusive, limited-time items.

One set, the complete, 14-volume "Love Hina" manga series, came with Akamatsu's two previously unpublished short works and a draft manuscript. The set was priced at 1,050 yen ($13.50), including tax, and a postcard with the author's autograph was available the first 50 buyers at an additional 1,050 yen.

Work from manga artist Gaasan was also included in the new crowd funding project.

For more information, visit J-Comi at (www.j-comi.jp/).

Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd.
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