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Crowdsourcing project for manga translation wrapping up

Reading Time: 2 minutes an innovative project run by Japanese publishers to try and meet the pent up demand in the West for manga is wrapping up at the end of February 2009. The service allowed customers to download and read manga as an electronic book via a proprietary PC-only application.

Manganovel JPG

The books were translated from Japanese by enthusiasts who earned points that they could then cash in against their own manga reading materials. This crowd-sourced approach allowed the Japanese publishers to engage directly with enthusiasts and reduce the cost of entering and serving foreign customers. The original Japanese works where translated into English, Italian, German, Russian and Tagalog.

I didn’t personally use the service because the e-book application was Windows-only, but I think that it is sad such a brave experiment by the media industry is being closed down. To be fair to the media owners involved they seem to have put an effective and efficient transition strategy in place.

A lot of effort had been put into getting the service right with a well-designed website developed with help from Amber Frid-Jimenez and other consultants from MIT Media Lab.

Here is the original post on the Manganovel site informing the customers of the services end:

December 12, 2008

Termination of Manganovel Services

Dear Manganovel Users:Please be advised that we will terminate all Manganovel services on February 27, 2009.
Towards this, we will discontinue the following services as of today:
・User Registration
・Point Sales
・Posting of translation by Manganovel Users
Users who currently hold “points” will receive an e-mail from us around January 15th, 2009, detailing how to use those points.For the meantime, Manga will be available for purchase if you have points, and you can also enjoy free manga.

We would like to extend our thanks to you for using Manganovel services.

For further information, please contact

3 replies on “Crowdsourcing project for manga translation wrapping up”

I’m sorry to see it go too, but I can’t say I’m surprised. They kept extending the date of that promotional contest (because there weren’t enough entries, I assume). I find the site hideous and unintuitive, and it lacks the single most important feature of a site like that (in my opinion): forums where users can discuss the works and the translations freely, not just comment spaces for individual translations.

Information on the site has been virtually nonexistant beyond a canned press release when they originally opened and announcements of new chapters.

There was no OSX version available, which stopped many people from fully participating (including me!).

The Windows application was hard to use and lacked the features I would want for reading manga. (There wasn’t a proper zoom function last time I looked at it–totally unacceptable if you’re trying to use it on a laptop screen.)

Furthermore, the manga selection wasn’t stuff that would attract most people currently doing scanlations. Without a significantly broader appeal (i.e. famous series), I’m not surprised they had trouble attracting users willing to put up with the horrible interface.

It’s so sad and frustrating to see such a good idea closing down because it was, quite frankly, NOT done right.

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