The manga industry has been in a bit of a crisis since entering the internet age. Series like One Piece, Attack on Titan, and Kingdom push out millions of copies a year, but the overall industry has been on shaky ground.
The elephant in the room is related to the digitization of entertainment. Every manga publisher has seen a decline in print sales, but digital sales haven’t grown fast enough to make up the loses. Publishers and creators have blamed piracy for leaching the sales numbers, and the Japanese government is exploring banning access to such sites.
However, Shueisha is rolling out an experiment that may change the game. Know for their Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, the publisher has launched an app and website called Jump Rookie. Interestingly, it’s mimicking some popular tactics from scanlation sites.
Jump Rookie is a free ad-supported portal that users can self-publish on. Every manga features “like,” “follow,” and “comment” functions. Series that get more engagements are featured on the home screen, and pages scroll downwards to be better read on smartphones. While Shueisha is associated with the shounen demographic, readers can also find seinen, shoujo, and josei works.
But the real game changer is that creators keep 100% of the ad revenue. For Shueisha, Jump Rookie is a way to evaluate young talent and identify rising trends, which can be carried over to their flagship magazines.
Jump Rookie looks like an interesting way for creators to receive instant feedback from readers and get rewarded for their work. Time will tell if the experiment will be a success.