Monday, August 13, 2012

Viz Digital Goes Day-and-Date

Last week Viz announced that, moving forward, it would be adopting a day-and-date release schedule for its digital offerings. If I understand the news correctly, this is a limited day-and-date schedule, not a line-wide one. Series that are available digitally will now see new volumes released the same day that the print editions come out. But not all series will be released digitally (e.g., no 20th Century Boys), and not all older volumes of a series will be immediately available digitally (e.g., Viz won't suddenly dump all the unreleased digital volumes of The Prince of Tennis).

Still, this is a major announcement for a couple reasons:
  1. It solidifies Viz's approach to digital. Previously Viz had mentioned it was experimenting with different schedules for different titles, occasionally even releasing digital well ahead of print (something it may still do to catch series up when they're serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha), but this standardizes things.
  2. It signals Viz's commitment to digital. To be honest, at times I questioned Viz's will and/or ability to stick with digital, but this reassures me.
  3. It makes Viz perhaps the only publisher to charge less than print for digital day-and-date. All the other comic publishers I can think of charge the same price as print for their digital day-and-date.
  4. It makes it easier to know in advance when digital volumes are coming out. One of the things that drives me crazy about publishers is their lack of a schedule for their books, and Viz was particularly bad in announcing when new digital volumes would be released. Even now, the "New" page on VizManga.com and within the iOS app features books like Hikaru no Go vol. 3 and Genkaku Picasso vol. 1 which came out long ago and aren't even the newest volumes in those series. With this new approach, I can at least use Amazon to track when new volumes of my favorite series are set to come out.
The announcement says that new digital releases will come out on Tuesdays, just like their print counterparts, but if the past two weeks are any indication, digital may have a slight advantage as new digital releases were available Monday evening. I bought Bakuman vol. 13 last Monday evening and tonight Kekkaishi vol. 33 just became available. (Although there's a slight glitch with the pricing in the iOS app as vol. 33 isn't reflecting the 20% sale price; the price is correct on VizManga.com.)

Other thoughts:
  • It'll be interesting to see how Viz deals with series that are still being released in print but that are significantly behind digitally. I'm not sure how many series fall in this category, but I noticed for example that Library Wars: Love and War is releasing volume 8 in print on 9/4/12. Volume 3 came out digitally last week and volume 4 just came out tonight, so it looks like Viz is tracking a volume a week to close the gap before volume 8 comes out. (I'm guessing Viz will release 7 and 8 digitally on 9/4/12.)
  • Based on what I see on Amazon, this means a new volume of Bakuman each month for the rest of 2012!
  • Whatever happened to InuYasha VIZBIG? It was originally announced as an iOS exclusive but there hasn't been a new digital release for quite some time, with the series only hitting vol. 6 digitally so far. Both Amazon and Viz.com list the release date for vol. 12 as 8/14/12 but there's nothing on the iOS app. (I wonder if something happened that caused Rumiko Takahashi generally to reconsider releasing her series digitally, as the much ballyhooed simultaneous release of Rin-ne fizzled out without explanation over a year ago.)
Frankly, this announcement could be bad news for my budget. I'd gotten in the habit of doing the bulk of my manga reading via the library, but if Viz makes their digital manga releases cheap, regular, and convenient, I may be tempted to buy more than just Bakuman digitally.

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