Digital Manga Publishing has formally announced its new fan/publisher hybrid program, the Digital Manga Guild. According to a newsletter sent out this weekend, DMP expects to be able to offer “thousands more” manga through the new program, which will rely on fan translators, editors, and letterers to revolutionize its production of digital manga in English.
At the Guild’s new website, fans can apply to sign on as translators, editors/adapters, or letterers by providing online samples of their previous work. There is no up-front payment, but DMP promises compensation when actual sales are made. Though the arrangement may sound sketchy, this section of the company’s informational material is somewhat heartening for prospective participants:
However, no party — Digital Manga, Inc., the Japanese publishers, or you (the localizers) — will get paid until a sales transaction is made. That means, we are all in this together!
Though it’s too early to speculate on the program’s success, the BL fanbase, in particular, seems like the ideal community in which to try out something of this kind. BL fans tend to be consistent manga buyers, always looking for the latest in their genre, while also maintaining a dedicated scanlation community that focuses largely on unlicensed material. By offering potential income and a stamp of legitimacy (along with reasonably-priced digital manga) can DMP succeed in bringing scanlators and readers fully into the fold?
Many are sure to have an opinion on the subject, including professional translators and editors who currently struggle to make a living in their field. And, as Brigid Alverson points out in her Robot 6 write-up, scanlators are already questioning DMP’s motivations. Is this a pioneering moment or an industry trainwreck waiting to happen?
What do you think, readers?
Update 2/1/2011: Check it out.