This is a moment of both victory and loss for scanlation. The victory: check out World-Three’s blogpost about how their completed work was credited on the cover of a manga published in Japan. That’s just incredible, congratulations bros.
Now I’ll introduce you to a new issue with scanlation.
Remember when, two years ago, scanlators asked you so frequently to buy the original copies of the manga? I hardly remember it now, as the panorama’s changed quite a bit.
Scanlation is becoming business. A profitable one.
I used to talk negatively about aggregators – I still do. The reason why aggregators are to be hated is that they make so much money on the shoulders of copyright holders and even on free labour. Scanlators don’t do that. Nor should they.
Back in 2008, we realized we would be able to afford the cost of our server if we provided what the aggregators did (free online reading), so we created the first “fast, high quality” manga reader on a scanlator’s website. Just as we had imagined, the income from advertising (20-40$ a month) allowed us to acquire a much better server, have more bandwidth and buy raws, all without having to ask for donations.
Fast forward to 2012. We released two comic readers, Batoto was created, Filesonic is all the rage.
In this age, our income is steady. It’s the same that we had in 2008, but the servers have become cheaper over time. Look at our site for a second: can you find any ads? (there’s only one on the bottom of the reader)
Nightmare mode: have you seen the 4chan archives we host? Those get 1.800.000 pageviews a month, five times the pageviews of our team site. That’s over 400gb of content stored, and even there, we have no ads.
Of course, we offer the best online manga reader ever created, and we offer direct downloads off our server without ads or wait times. We can’t get any more open than this.
How is it possible to live without ads?
The answer is Batoto.
Batoto is a godsend for scanlation. Many scanlators can fund their own site thanks to them, and some quit having ads on their site. Batoto basically allows you to put your Google Adsense ads on their site, so the credit goes directly to the scanlator’s Google account. Very simple, very secure.
We had about the same amount of income when our site had ads on every page, and that’s quite decent, considering we release so infrequently.
Wait a second…
If FoOlRulez can afford all this stuff just on Batoto money, what’s going on with other scanlators?
They release several times more frequently than us, and their projects have many, many more followers than ours. By this logic, they should be earning several times the money we earn, right? Of course they do.
There’s more. They have ads all over their website, they ask for donations on their site, they ask for donations on their credit pages, and they use Filesonic (sort of dead now), which pays more based on how big the file is, and how many downloads it gets. Every time they add another scheme to make money, their revenue multiplies.
How much can such groups earn? Somewhere between $500 and $1000, basing myself on what we currently earn. That’s an incredible amount of money when FoOlRulez has probably some of the most powerful servers in scanlation, with the little we earn. If we wanted to have really nice servers, we don’t really need to go over $150 a month.
This is pretty new.
And that was all I had to say.
I had to vent a bit about this issue. I’m not going to name any specific groups, because there’s lots of them involved.
We can’t go down this road. Scanlation is already in great danger because all the groups are lacking applicants.
If money becomes a part of the equation, we will seriously think about quitting scanlation. We don’t want to be involved in what may as well be an organized plot to earn revenue from someone else’s work. Compared to the mangaka’s work, ours is a shitstain, only worth minor credit and a read. It’s the mangaka’s effort that should be loved, you should make a shrine for him/her (and you should totally buy the official volumes!)