Value of Memberships
At the moment, the normal membership doesn't have much value since it's essentially $54 a year for temporary access to unpolished chapters. I'm gonna put aside the whole pre-pubs since that just doesn't appeal to me at all as someone that reads by the volume light how Light Novels are originally published for the most part. (Excluding the handful of series that are in magazines.)
Even with the Premium membership, that's a $120 investment a year in hoping that something you're interested in is licensed and released. A big part of the current membership system seems like it's a gamble. The free book a month for Premium seems like the only good deal so far. However, one issue I noticed is that in the FAQ under Premium Membership - Premium E-books and credits, are Premium ebooks.
They are not available for normal purchase, and can only be downloaded by purchasing them using the credits that Premium Members get once a month.
Premium E-books may also have extra bonus content, like special illustrations or translator notes sections, extra short stories, etc, depending on the specific title and availability. We're going to work hard to make these really special, and we'll announce these extra features in our newsletter, twitter, and forums before publication.
Then there's the idea of purchasing Premium credits. It's an interesting bottle neck to get the most content. A question I have regarding the purchasing of Premium Credits is whether free/non-paying users can buy them for the sake of getting the "most content" from when full volumes are released. Like, I don't intend to get the normal membership and it will be a year or two before I consider Premium depending on what's licensed. But I'd certainly want all the content from a volume release.
I'm also wondering what kind of short stories exactly would be included in the Premium. Are we talking about newly written exclusives, stuff from magazines, BD short stories, Limited Edition/Pre-Order Japanese Release short stories, or dare I even say, the short stories from the volumes themselves? (I could get behind the Limited Edition/Pre-Order & BD Bonus Short Stories)
I'm personally not a fan of when companies break up content from different retailers. It's kind of a sneaky move which feels like it's scamming people that don't know that you'll only get the extra short stories when buying from Novel Club. I'm not a big fan of digital anyways, but ignoring that, I don't feel like I'd pay $120 a year for one free volume a month with only 10 Light Novels confirmed at the moment. There's also the fact that I don't know what kind of translation quality is coming. Yen Press has really shunned me away with their excessive localization. And I'm not cheap considering I imported 5 Limited Editions of Arifureta volume 4 for all the exclusives which cost me around $160.
So my recommendation is that at the very least more value than pre-pubs should be added to the paid memberships. Like, perhaps give one premium credit to the normal paying members every 3 or 4 months so they can at least collect one series they love. For Premium Members, they could be given a boosted bonus of like merchandise from the limited edition releases of stuff in Japan. I know Overlap does a lot of Limited Editions.
In the end, I'm still somewhat skeptical of how this will turn out if the entire suitability of the company is based off these memberships or standard digital sales for volumes which by themselves aren't currently super profitable.
At the moment, the normal membership doesn't have much value since it's essentially $54 a year for temporary access to unpolished chapters.
Even with the Premium membership, that's a $120 investment a year in hoping that something you're interested in is licensed and released.
Honestly, it's not that different than when Crunchyroll got started with just a handful of series… I first latched onto it for exactly that reason, because they had stuff like "Wandering Son" and "Sasameki Koto" that I figured would never be licensed by the likes of Funimation and Sentai.
I can't knock the Club for paid access to beta chapters, since as a computer book author, that's exactly how we work in my business too (readers would rather have the material now, even in an unfinished state, than wait six months for editing and indexing, and will pay for the privilege). I mean, every time I see a manga or LN announcement on ANN and the release date is in a year, I'm like "a year from now, am I going to even remember this was licensed?"
So yeah, I got on board with a $5/mo membership. Kind of because us old people with a little money should help things like this get off the ground so they have a chance. I can see eventually just switching to buying completed volumes when they have titles I'm specifically interested in, but for now, I'll just sample.
Let me try and answer some of your questions:
Premium Ebooks primary purpose is to provide higher quality/resolution images than an Ebook you can buy on Amazon or other stores. This is because those stores require us to limit things like image sizes.
By giving people a chance to buy directly from us we can control the format.
The extra content in the premium Ebooks is really going to be extra. Everything in the print edition of the original Japanese book will be in the normal Ebooks. The extra content would be things like extra store specific bonus illustrations or original content we create like a compilation of the translator's notes/posts in the premium members forum. There are some short stories which we have that were special giveaways at events, for example.
So you aren't missing out on any content compared to the original Japanese release if you buy the normal Ebooks.
Regarding the image resolution. How large of image sizes are we talking for the premium eBooks? I understand that Amazon can be very restrictive about image sizes especially with the delivery charge per megabyte. However I believe that other stores like Kobo or Google Play Books or iBooks are less so, with LNs purchased from those sources the image resolutions are usually up to 1400 pixels in width which is much better than Kindle versions, and also saved at a much higher quality level.
@Catscope We'll be working that out over the next month or two are we finalize the ebook production process. Materials we get from Japan are not always the same quality either, so it's hard to make a blanket statement. Generally we want to keep our retail ebooks all about the same "quality", and have the premium ebooks be 50% higher resolution or better.
@invalidname I agree that is "old people with money" should help out. I like to support anime crowdfunding for the same reason.
@the-green-death Young people with money are OK too!
So I've looked for some of the books on Itunes, but there's nothing there yet. When will that be happening? I'm interested in 3 of your titles so far, but I'm the kind of guy who would want to be able to read the whole book rather than just tibits.
@hui43210 We'll be uploading preorders listings on other sites shortly. iBooks is on the list!