This post is a follow-up to Deb Aoki's great iPad article on About.com. I gave this quote: "I'm not as hopeful about the iPad as I was this morning. The iTunes store just rejected Zesty, our tamest graphic novel, without citing a reason. We thought this could be a bright spot for us akin to our sales on Amazon Kindle, but we're very discouraged right now."
I would be the last person to sneer at any digital method that gives our readers a way to purchase our books. I've been lauding how wonderful Kindle has been for Yaoi Press for some time now on Twitter. We've had great success offering our titles online with Netcomics and Digital Manga.
I will continue to pursue all platforms for digital distribution because that's where the business has been going for years now. It makes sense for publishers. The archaic book store returns model is crippling the industry. Printing costs continue to rise. Shipping and warehousing physical books is an enormous expense both for the publisher and the consumer, and limits access geographically. All these ancillary expenses takes away income that could be given to writers and artists who desperately need it.
It's true that the Kindle app store gives us defacto iTunes distribution, but this has been for tiny-screened iPhones. The iPad may change things, but it was just released and most of our audience (under 26 and living with parents) don't have the money to run out and buy one.
What they all have is cell phones, because it's considered a necessity. Their cost tolerance is very high for cell phone technology. For instance, a college student I knew who lived with her parents earned $200 a month at a weekend job. She spent $90 a month for her cell phone plan.
We still have the tiny screen to contend with. I don't know how the Kindle app works on the iPhone, but full pages where people have to zoom in and out to read it is what we were trying to avoid. I see someone buying one manga with this small screen hassle and then giving up on them.
We were reformatting our books for viewing on the iPhone. Our provider warned us Apple was strict. This is why we picked Zesty as our first title to launch.
Zesty is not yaoi as many people define it. There are no sex scenes. It's kisses and comedy.
People who've read Zesty may be saying, "I bet it was the 'strictly dickly' line." We took this line out for our submission to Apple:
Original Graphic Novel -
Our provider warned us they were fickle about what they accepted and rejected. He cited one book that was rejected because it showed a character smoking.
What he described to me was similar to my experience with Canadian Customs. One time they rejected a case of Cain vol. 3 (Mature Readers), the next day they allow in cases of Happy Yaoi Yum Yum (Adults Only). It depends on the customs agent on duty and how deep they dig.
I wish I had an iPhone so I could see if any gay themed media is accepted. Please comment if you have an answer for me.
I accept every restriction to keep titles out of the hands of children. I support these restrictions. They enable parents to be able to decide what their kids should have access to. New platforms need to enable parents to restrict their children's access to what content they choose. The medium itself should not act as parents for their users.