Digital Manga Publishing responds to questions about Tezuka World Kickstarter

So, DMP promised they would get back to their customers who had questions about the Tezuka kickstarter on the 28th of this month. Get back to them, they did. But some of their responses are making me uneasy still.

To summarise, I wrote a blog post in regards to the whole Tezuka World kickstarter and in it, I asked, in addition to other questions, the following:

  • Will they reexamine the 30+ volumes per Kickstarter plan if this Kickstarter doesn’t succeed?
  • Speaking of future Kickstarters, what will happen if this Kickstarter fails to meet the minimum? Will Tezuka Pro rescind the contract? Are we okay to give our money to future Kickstarters?
  • What guarantee is there that DMP will print the books that do make the stretch goals for regular customers? Will we get a chance to buy 31 volumes at standard RRP in the future?

The responses to these questions, which were also asked by Deb Aoki, Alex Hoffman and others, were both straightforward and somewhat evasive.

Will there be a sufficient print run to supply the market if the kickstarter gets funded?

If the first goal gets funded, there will be enough to supply books to the backers first and foremost…  depending on how much gets funded after the first goal, will determine the print run will be if any for the open market.

Please note: Books being distributed to the open market will be released one volume at a time over a period of 2-3 years vs. through the campaign you’ll get it all at once

So you’ll get your books on the open market but if we don’t make more than the initial goal plus change, then you’ll only get what? A few hundred? A few thousand? That doesn’t make any sense and means that people who can’t afford the prices of the kickstarter don’t have any assurance that even if they make the initial goal, that there will even be any open market copies.

What happens to all the books if the kickstarter doesn’t get funded?

We’re not sure at this time, it’ll depend on lots of varying factors such as Tezuka Production/Licensor, etc.

You’re not sure? Not sure? Did it even come up as a topic of conversation when you went to hand over money to Tezuka Pro? Did the idea that any one of these multiple Kickstarters could fail cross DMP’s minds when chatting to Tezuka Pro? Did Tezuka Pro even raise the issue? Have DMP themselves done so since looking at the pledge numbers so far for Tezuka’s World?

Are future kickstarters always going to be in big batches like this one?

It may or may not but regardless, we will rethink our overall kickstarter strategy in terms on tiers/stretch goals, etc, to meet the needs of our backers.

OK, now that just contradicts the reason DMP gave as to why they had to put together a bigger batch of titles. People readily paid for Unico and the rest of the earlier titles but, at the rate they were published, it would take decades to finish the whole catalogue. So, if this Kickstarter doesn’t work out, DMP will adjust their releasing schedule to suit? Thereby going back to the original schedule which doesn’t work? What about when DMP have a huge batch to get through again? Will they bring back their Tezuka’s World-style campaign and huge initial stretch goal?

Does the licenses expire? (licensing time-frame)

Maybe, it’ll depend on the outcome of this campaign and Tezuka Production’s decision on what to do next.

This is the one that sets off alarm bells for me. Something in the way it’s phrased suggests to me that Tezuka Pro’s contract with DMP is highly subjective on the success of failures of each Kickstarter. Does this mean that one KS that goes wrong could spell disaster? No, I don’t think so. Kickstarters are hard to judge and going into this, DMP can’t have oversold it to Tezuka Pro since there have been Kickstarter failures before, some involving “anime” projects. Do I think that one unfunded KS might mean Tezuka Pro looks elsewhere with their licenses? Oh, yeah, I do indeed. Which would be a major pain for DMP.

So here’s some new question for DMP based on their responses:

  • How many copies would be available to the general public if the Kickstarter made its initial goal and ONLY its initial goal?
  • Are you prepared to scrap the planned large batch Kickstarters if this doesn’t work and shift to a multi-campaign release schedule for the 31+ title goal per year for next year?
  • If you’re not going to scrap the large batch Kickstarters, will you give backers more advanced warning than 24 hours and more like a season or more that there is a campaign coming down the line that will be expensive to get every book?
  • Will Tezuka Pro support you if you shift to a cheaper per volume costing? That is, if you have to use cheaper paper and non-gloss covers, will they OK that?
  • Can we have advanced notice of the Kickstarter campaign page and see it in beta before it goes live? (Yes, this can be done, Animeigo and Anime Limited have done it). Will you adjust tiers with direct backer input while in beta?

Without meaning to sound cruel or come across as entitled, as backers, we’re entitled to know all the facts so the fact that we haven’t been asking more probing questions about these Kickstarters like the nature of the contract with Tezuka Pro, per volume costing breakdowns or an itemised bill charting how much the President of DMP spent traveling to Tezuka Pro says something about our level of trust in you, DMP.

Here’s a link to DMP’s actual post on the matter. Please, I would strongly urge people who are backing the project (I’m only supporting the project by $1, going back on my own word to not do so) and even those who are not to contact DMP on their Twitter or their Facebook pages and engage with them about your concerns or requests to do with this Kickstarter and future ones. We all want more Tezuka and DMP are the best shot at the moment for getting that.