DMP’s Kickstarter Issues, Part 1: Costs?

Links: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I’ve had some interesting conversations over the past two days in the wake of Digital Manga Publishing’s release and subsequent PR blast surrounding their latest Kickstarter project. The goal is pretty lofty – to print a chunk of Tezuka’s currently unpublished work in 31 paperback books before the end of 2015.

The catch? In order to get the whole set, the manga/comics community is going to have to drop a cool $589,000 USD. Yes, that’s right, a little over half a million dollars.

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Digital Manga Publishing has shown us time and time again that it can release a few books at a time using Kickstarter. Their UNICO project, their largest to date, published 4 books, UNICO, ATOMCAT, and Triton vols. 1 and 2. 

So clearly there’s a huge difference in scale here – This request for funds and the number of books funded are an order of magnitude larger than any previous campaign.

Based on previous Kickstarters, we can see what DMP was expecting to need per volume to get a book into print. Captain Ken was $6500. Expensive, but probably pretty reasonable.

For the latest Kickstarter? They’re asking for 3x the cash, a whopping $19,000 per volume. And that $19,000 has to come from somewhere, and that’s my first major complaint.

Consider this – for DMP’s first Kickstarter project, I backed at $70 and got the following:

  • Swallowing the Earth by Osamu Tezuka (MSRP $25)
  • Speed Racer Deluxe Box Set by Tatsuo Yoshida (MSRP $40)
  • 5 volumes of DMP manga (MSRP ~$60)

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Let’s look at the UNICO Kickstarter, which I backed at $82:

  • UNICO by Osamu Tezuka (MSRP $35)
  • ATOMCAT by Osamu Tezuka (MSRP $13)
  • Triton Vol. 1+2 by Osamu Tezuka (MSRP $40)

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Let’s compare this to the latest Tezuka Kickstarter – the “only the books” tier costs $750:

  • The Three-Eyed One Vol.1-13 (MSRP $182)
  • Rainbow Parakeet Vol.1-7 (MSRP $98)
  • Wonder 3 Vol.1-3 (MSRP $42)
  • Alabaster Vol.1-2 (MSRP $28)
  • The Vampires Vol.1-4 (MSRP $56)
  • Birdman Anthology Vol. 1-2 (MSRP $28)

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Note that I’ve set the MRSP for the new books at $14, which is what is directly quoted on the Kickstarter page ($13.95). So, in order to get those books, you’re paying 72% higher than MSRP. That’s almost double the price of the books at the store.

And I’m not going to leave that $750 number aside. The notion that someone can just drop $750 all at one time on 31 books that will be released over the next year is quite literally ludicrous for many manga devotees, even Tezuka fans.

$750 is a figure that can easily be more than 2 weeks worth of pay for many working class Americans, and may in fact be more than many manga readers spend on books all year.

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It seems like buying into DMP’s Kickstarter is a losing proposition from the start – like buying a new car, you’re losing 43% of your value as soon as it rolls off the lot.

Up next – Part 2: Tezuka the Golden Goose, and how some Golden Eggs are better than others.

Links: Part 1 Part 2 | Part 3

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