How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry


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    So I was talking with my friends today, we were discussing all new licenses and the topic of fan translations came up and how much do they hurt the legitimate companies like J Novel, Yen Ect ect.

    I believe they really hurt the bottom line and that J novel and Yen would be Abel to license tons more if there were not so many fan translations.

    Now I know that allot of fan stuff is pretty bad, there not edited and the sentence structures are not westernized or there the web novel and not the Light Novel but an equal number are done on almost a professional level.

    I think this greatly hurts the profits of legit companies and could explain why many popular titles have not been picked up. One of the big one I would love to see licensed would be death mage dose not want a 4th time but the web novel is translated all the way up to Volume 8 and they are working on 9. This could be a major factor as to why it has yet to be picked up.

    What do you guys think


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    Hmm, I dont think fan translation hurts the industry at all.
    I read overlord and Youjo Senki as a fan translation, I bought every officially translated volume as well. I am even reading both web novel and official novel translation of Seirei Gensouki.

    In conclusion, I am of the opinion that fan translation of web novels / light novels does not hurt the industry at all.

    On the other hand, fan translation/scanlation of manga does. But that is not the problem of scanlation but the problem of the industry.
    Fan subbing used to be a thing in the past, now its pretty much dead as the industry embraced simultaneous release of anime via streaming services. The same will happen to scanlation, when the industry finally fills in the market demand.


  • Premium Member

    @ant13099
    It’s a double edged sword. Fan translations are often the introduction of a franchise to the English speaking fandom. Fan translations can promote or generate interest prior to a title being licensed. On the other hand a fan translation does not generate royalties for the original creators, and a poor or clunky translation can turn the public off.

    I wouldn’t have heard of Rokujouma (or JNC) if Warnis hadn’t did a fan translation on BT (I followed Rokujouma here when JNC licensed it)

    Bottom line: it depends. If a fan translation site is “responsible “ and takes down content on request of the copyright holder, and doesn’t use copyright content for profit. I think the publicity is a net positive for the legitimate industry


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    I don't have the industry experience to know how things balance out, but I'd guess there are some benefits to them as well, since they can help a series get recognized and build fan bases.

    Although the Death Mage one is organized into "volumes", isn't it a translation of the web novel version? Since Japanese LN release doesn't go that far. They're like on 5 or something. I think web novel translations, as long as the author doesn't mind and is keeping the Japanese version live after a LN version is started, are fine since it's just making what's freely and publicly available in Japanese available in the same way in English. And a lot (although not all) change quite a bit in the LN versions, as WN are often basically (sometimes very) rough drafts.

    While they're always technically illegal, any unofficial translations of published material (LNs and manga) should definitely at least be taken down once a series is officially licensed, although I'd like to see more instances of deals like with Rokujouma where those near-professional translations are used as a base for quick official releases. If companies could do that maybe it could offset some of the negative impacts of fan translation by lowering costs and such.


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    @zing good point we were only talking about the light novels today but your right the manga scans have to be a bane to the industry. I believe most every manga announced has a fan translation out with dozens of chapters already set.


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    Welp, without fan translation/scanlation/subbing there would have been no industry we can see right now, just Murakami books and occasional Miyazaki cartoons.
    Fan translations pretty much shaped the things the way they are now and gathered initial audience for legal companies to capitalise on. Yes, they hurt sales now, but at the same time made these sales possible in the first place.



  • @wellwisher said in How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry:

    Welp, without fan translation/scanlation/subbing there would have been no industry we can see right now, just Murakami books and occasional Miyazaki cartoons.
    Fan translations pretty much shaped the things the way they are now and gathered initial audience for legal companies to capitalise on. Yes, they hurt sales now, but at the same time made these sales possible in the first place.

    I don't agree. I will say that I do think the industry in its current form came about on the backs of fan translations. However, I also believe we still would have gotten light novels, maybe in a different format or speed, if it they had caught hold without fan translations to provide the stimulus. Either way, chaos theory and all that, so it's kind of pointless to say "they were necessary" when you can't know how things would turn out without them.


  • Premium Member

    @ant13099 said in How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry:

    @zing good point we were only talking about the light novels today but your right the manga scans have to be a bane to the industry. I believe most every manga announced has a fan translation out with dozens of chapters already set.

    The problem is that scans are keeping up with the Japanese release. Where official translation is just so far behind, I can hardly see them as being relevant.
    I dont wish to wait 6-8 month between buying a volume of manga I like, this is very unappealing to me and it leads me to believe that I am not its target consumer. The official release might be targeting a different market segment then the one I am present in.

    If there is something we learned from game piracy is that people who pirate video games would not buy said game even if they could not pirate it. This may or may not be due to financial reasons. I've been there myself, were I was young and unable to afford to buy video games that often. But I am adult now and own over hundreds of games (on steam).
    When I was younger, I became a fan of the medium and in my adulthood, a frequent costumer. Naturally, I would not own as many games as I do now if it was not for digital distribution.

    The same can be said with light novels, while I've been a light manga reader over the years, my obsession with light novels spiralled out of control with me reading scanlation of I am a spider, so what?
    Now am here, owning countless light novels and reading over 30 fan translations. I am eternally grateful to digital distribution via bookwalker, amazon and j-novel, I just don't have bookshelf space for everything I am reading.

    P.S. I am glad I bought a galaxy pad instead of a kindle, I love that thing to bits.


  • Premium Member

    There are some series I would never have gotten into if I hadn't read the fan translation so I can't see them as completely negative things, I personally have a rule that if I read a fan translation of something and it gets licensed then I will purchase the official version when it comes out. Though I know a lot people wouldn't do that.

    And fan translations can impact sales, I think I remember that Sam once said that after they got past the fan translation sales of Grimgar went up so they do effect sales and apparently Sam refuses to license a series like Date a Live because the fan translation is too ingrained into the community.


  • Premium Member

    @myskaros But we do! We have an example how things could have been from 10 years ago. Yes, these reasons weren't the main reason of that crash (blame the financial crisis), but we have enough info to compare.
    And honestly, I like things the way they are now much more than how they were back then.



  • @wellwisher But we also had the explosive popularity of anime adaptations like Sword Art Online and DanMachi. Yes, there were fan translations of them available (SAO, at least; not sure about DanMachi), but I would say the anime played a much bigger role in getting them adapted. Same for older seres like Haruhi and Spice & Wolf.


  • Premium Member

    @myskaros Most of the fan translations I've seen for SAO were for small stories that are not widely published, if published at all. On the other hand, there's a fairly active fan translation of The Devil is a Part Timer that, personally, I think does hurt sales of the licensed material. And then there was the fan translation of Eromanga Sensei that got taken down, though I doubt any English translation has been licensed. You can't hurt sales of something that doesn't exist, right?


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    @paul-nebeling There was actually a fairy extensive fan translation of SAO before the anime even came out, I was actually able to read all the way up to the start of Alizication before the first episode of the anime even aired.



  • @paul-nebeling said in How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry:

    You can't hurt sales of something that doesn't exist, right?

    You can; Sam has stated before that he's not considering Hyouka because it has a good, complete fan translation already.


  • Premium Member

    @myskaros Now that you mentioned it, SAO boom definitely greatly affected all anime-related things out there and simply was too large. As for other series - they definitely got influenced by already existing fanTL base, take fans stinking about S&W covers for example.


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    @paul-nebeling said in How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry:

    You can't hurt sales of something that doesn't exist, right?

    I agree. Though the range of choice for official English novel (and manga, anime) has been greatly expanded in recent years, I doubt that it can cover everything people want (look at the amount of topics in license request section), so I see fan translations as something inevitable. Though I prefer that they follow a common code such as dropping the translation as soon as the series got licensed. IMO an official translation, in the long run, can always outshine fan translation with enough resource (and DMCA), so it's just a question of how much effort they want to pour into it. It may be a harder fight when we talk about some older franchises, but well, DMCA is the way. I don't know if DAL translation is still alive, but since Mahouka fan translation retreated from BT and then from mahouka wiki to discord, I stopped follow the fan translation because it's too troublesome, so I think that new fans of the franchise will naturally go to YP if they want to read the novel. I think that's the advantage of official translations, they are easy to find for new fans, so there is no point at brooding over some old fans. But well, if the point of licensing a series is to appeal to an existing hard-headed community with a brazen active fan translation, then I have no comment.


  • Premium Member

    @paul-nebeling Another way a fan translation can hurt - the first 18 books of Irregular at Magic High have a good fan translation, and (so far) a OK (and slow to appear) official translation. I've been buying the official translations, but sometimes reading the books makes me cringe at some of the changes that were made.

    Of course, after book 18, the fan translation has fallen apart, being a "machine translation of Japanese to Russian, then to English" that loses a LOT of the personal relations "feel" along the way.


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    @myskaros I stand corrected.


  • Premium Member

    @myskaros said in How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry:

    @paul-nebeling said in How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry:

    You can't hurt sales of something that doesn't exist, right?

    You can; Sam has stated before that he's not considering Hyouka because it has a good, complete fan translation already.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Not sure if it's the one you meant, but I've found a July 2018 statement from Sam to this effect:

    Anon: "Why did you choose kokoro connect over other series like hyouka? Not complaining i love kokoro connect, im just curious. Was it just easier to get? Or more requested?"

    Sam/JNC: "Hyouka's fan translation is too complete."

    Source: https://curiouscat.me/jnovelclub/post/584251560