How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry


  • Premium Member

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

    I just checked and I've bought 9 series based on catch-up months and another 6 from reading prepubs.

    I thought it prompted me to buy more, but double checking it is only Arifureta (and Zero) and Clockwork Planet for me so far, though I bought the thus far unlocked so 'always on catch up' Rokujouma as well. (I can't remember if Dendro was a catch up inspired one as well or if I took the chance on V1 and then bought the rest)

    I wonder if Sam does notice any movement either way of purchases of stuff put on catch up?



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

    @ker2x said in How much do you think fan translations hurt the industry:

    The second argument being extremly simple : kindle.
    I don't want to read book on my computer. When i do it, i read webnovel. Otherwise it's LN on my kindle. And amazon being amazon, i have to pay for it. so i pay ;)

    I always had trouble finding the book I want to read on amazon kindle, especially the ones from yen press. But bookwalker is pretty awesome in that regard.
    https://global.bookwalker.jp/

    i didn't know about this website. thx :)


  • Premium Member

    I was surprised when a well-known scanlation site decided to turn everything off and go “legit” at the drop of a hat. Their reasoning was that scanlations and fan translations hurt the Japanese authors and the industry and that they would no longer be a part of it. They even went so far as to rebrand themselves with a new site that is to say the least a huge disappointment from what they used to be. So, is it really wrong for people to scanlate or fan-translate a series?

    For me personally I think that they help get the authors works to readers that would never have known about them and maybe even get an official license where there may not have been one generating more revenue for the industry and the authors as well. Let’s face it, a large percentage of the work made in Japan is never licensed outside of Japan. So’ if it’s not licensed where is the loss?

    What do you think? Is it a good or bad thing? Write or wrong? It’s a conundrum, that much I’m certain of.


  • Premium Member

    My stance is that the relationship is complicated.

    1. Does it hurt the industry monetarily?
      • Yes
    2. Does it provide something that the industry cannot?
      • Yes. The shear volume of works could not possibly be handled legitimately.
      • WN's don't ususaly get official translations.
    3. Should it be restricted, or completely shut down?
      • Standard restrictions should apply, such as DMCA laws.
      • Shutting it down entirely would probably be detrimental to the official industry.

    Basically, I believe that for WN's, it should be allowed as long as the translator does not attempt to monetize it. If they do monetize, that is a whole different issue.
    Also, they absolutely need to promote the original author, since that is really the only gain the author is getting.

    For LN's, where an unofficial translation will in fact hurt the industry if it get picked up, I believe that any fan translator should be required to stop updating once an official translation is licensed (yes, even if it is SOL Press), and to take it down if a DMCA is issued.


  • Staff

    @lighthawk96 I don't know what you're trying to say with that example? It's like saying "this person I know used to do graffiti, but then they decided to stop, what's up with that?" Vandalizing is against the law. Fan translations are also against the law. If they want to stop, well, good for them.

    As far as "they get exposure!!!", that's the big scam of the creative world. Exposure doesn't pay bills, exposure doesn't put food on the table. English-speaking people liking someone's unofficially translated Japanese novel is not going to help that person get paid more in Japan, especially when it's being posted for free and people reading it don't have to buy their books anymore.

    Fan translations might have been good in the past, since they highlighted a business opportunity that was being overlooked; there was a demand for a type of product and little to no supply. However, these days we have plenty of companies looking into translating light novels and Japanese media in general. There's no more need for fan translations to "expose" something anymore.

    So’ if it’s not licensed where is the loss?

    Here's an example of something that was not licensed and a fan translation created a barrier to it getting licensed: https://curiouscat.me/jnovelclub/post/584251560

    EDIT: I should note that JNC has plenty of examples of a series that was in fact fan translated, but it was still licensed and sells fine. However, those don't apply to all cases, so it's not like you can guarantee that you'll do zero harm to a series by fan translating it.


  • Premium Member

    If an amateur translator only put up the first chapter of a series, along with links to the original works and a blurb about why it should be licensed and the market, the exposure argument might hold water. That would basically be free advertising. More than that and they might risk filling the market with a low-cost alternative that a professional company couldn’t really compete with in terms of overhead.



  • I was really excited about J-Novel picking up Duke's Daughter and A Wild Last Boss Appeared because I was familiar with the fan translations of the Web Novels -- I know that's only a personal anecdote, but I think the logic checks out in general. (Though Web Novels should also be considered a completely different kettle to begin with.)

    I never would have gotten into Anime or Japanese media without the fan translations, though, so that feels a bit hypocritical to say too.


  • Premium Member

    @piisfun
    That is kinda what I was getting at. Most fan translations are not all that great, very few are in fact. All I was really saying is that there is an appetite out there for this stuff and the industry, while growing, can't feed it fast enough. Why?

    Translation times between companies vary. JNC translates at a grueling pace but at the same time let their customers read weekly releases of the translated works. I think this model is the best of both worlds in that you get your appetite saited everyweek instead of waiting months on end for the next installment of a series.

    I was just trying to say that the reality of the situation is that most of the works made in Japan will never make it out of Japan. Some people feel that this is the way it should be. I'm not one of them. I would like more works to make their way over here and be licensed and distributed. But let's face it, there is way more demand than supply.


  • Premium Member

    Most english speakers don't know those original material exist until its fan translated. If it merely become licensed right away, I'm willing to bet their sales would be pretty low, outside of the top 10 material. I think fan translation help. It requires anime/manga fan translation to introduce ppl to the material for them to seek light novel


  • Premium Member

    I wouldn't know that there was an English light novel market if it wasn't for me to trying to find more information on the Mushoku Tensei manga and stumbling across the fan translation of the web novel on Baka-Tsuki.
    This got me reading WN's/LN's as i tried to find more series I liked.
    Eventually stumbled across bookwalker and found there were more volumes/series and better translations and it went from there.

    Now I've spent well more than $10000 on LN's, don't know if would have been the same if I didn't stumble across Baka-Tsuki all those years ago. But I can definatly say that the fan translations got me in to reading LN's and got me wanting more.

    I think fan translations have a place, defiantly for series that don't have an official English release. A few of my favourite series like Zero no Tsukaima, Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, Shinmai Maou no Keiyakusha, etc, have basically no chance of getting licenced so at least there is somewhere where we can read them.


  • Premium Member

    @Ran I’m right there with you on Wild Last Boss. I also just found out that one I thought had no real hope of getting an official translation has been licensed (and bought the first volume of My Dress-Up Darling). There’s definitely a disconnect between my general view of the situation and my specific behaviors. But at least as far as fair use goes, I’m reasonably confident that model would pass muster.


  • Premium Member

    @Timmaaah
    I picked up on light novel's much in the same way. I came across the Death March manga which had I think 4 chapters translated at the time. I wanted more so I found the translation of the web novel and binge read all of it. In fact, one of the series that I suggested JNC license, "The Saint's Magic Power Is Omnipotent" was licensed by Seven seas. I've read all of the fan translation and all of the scanlation of the manga and will still buy both when they are released. Why? Because I like the series and want to read the official translation and support the industry the best I can. Simple as that.


  • Premium Member

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

    I was really excited about J-Novel picking up Duke's Daughter and A Wild Last Boss Appeared because I was familiar with the fan translations of the Web Novels -- I know that's only a personal anecdote, but I think the logic checks out in general. (Though Web Novels should also be considered a completely different kettle to begin with.)

    I never would have gotten into Anime or Japanese media without the fan translations, though, so that feels a bit hypocritical to say too.

    How long ago was that? A bit of anime besides DBZ and Robotech such as Project A-ko started showing up on cable TV in the '90s, and there was a lot out on VHS then too. Tokyopop started their manga line in 2002. I'm not sure when the LN boom hit.

    I think we're long past the early days when exposure was necessary to let people know that the material exists and is good.

    I do like @EmpactWB 's idea of fan translations that give just a taste and then stop. That seems closer to ethical exposure than taking a writer's entire series without their consent.


  • Premium Member

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

    Fan translations might have been good in the past, since they highlighted a business opportunity that was being overlooked; there was a demand for a type of product and little to no supply. However, these days we have plenty of companies looking into translating light novels and Japanese media in general. There's no more need for fan translations to "expose" something anymore.

    The amount of light & web novels in Japan far surpasses the amount that can or will be translated by companies at any point. After all, companies are trying to make a lot of money by selling these translations.

    Why have these plenty of companies not licensed Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time yet?


  • Staff

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

    The amount of light & web novels in Japan far surpasses the amount that can or will be translated by companies at any point. After all, companies are trying to make a lot of money by selling these translations.

    That doesn't justify stealing the works of these authors and publishing them without their permission.

    Why have these plenty of companies not licensed Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time yet?

    Maybe because the demand for it is lower than you think? Maybe the content isn't appealing to any of the localization companies? Maybe the publisher or author either doesn't want it to be published in English, or is demanding too much money for it. Maybe it's another reason entirely. But I can guarantee you it's not because no one knows about it or has heard that there are people who want it, thus rendering the "exposure" argument moot.


  • Premium Member

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

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

    The amount of light & web novels in Japan far surpasses the amount that can or will be translated by companies at any point. After all, companies are trying to make a lot of money by selling these translations.

    That doesn't justify stealing the works of these authors and publishing them without their permission.

    Why have these plenty of companies not licensed Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time yet?

    Maybe because the demand for it is lower than you think? Maybe the content isn't appealing to any of the localization companies? Maybe the publisher or author either doesn't want it to be published in English, or is demanding too much money for it. Maybe it's another reason entirely. But I can guarantee you it's not because no one knows about it or has heard that there are people who want it, thus rendering the "exposure" argument moot.

    I am quite conflicted when it comes to this, both as an adult with a consciousness and as a avid consumer.
    As an adult I fully understand and agree that its bad and may bring harm to authors. I want everyone to be happy, the author, the translator and the company that makes this possible.
    But as a consumer, my own interests come first. As a consumer, I want to read a lot of cool stories and last year, j-novel has licensed 0 novels that had appeal to me.
    I spend more time reading fan translations than I do official ones because the stuff I am reading is not available as official translation.



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

    How long ago was that? A bit of anime besides DBZ and Robotech such as Project A-ko started showing up on cable TV in the '90s, and there was a lot out on VHS then too. Tokyopop started their manga line in 2002. I'm not sure when the LN boom hit.

    I think we're long past the early days when exposure was necessary to let people know that the material exists and is good.

    In the 90s. :) Started before Toonami was a thing, but kept going alongside that.

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

    I spend more time reading fan translations than I do official ones because the stuff I am reading is not available as official translation.

    I love Death Mage; it's currently the last Web Novel I'm following (not counting English language originals like the stuff on Royal Road -- are those web novels? They fall under the same "the Author themselves published this on the web for free" category, at least.)


  • Staff

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

    I am quite conflicted when it comes to this, both as an adult with a consciousness and as a avid consumer.
    As an adult I fully understand and agree that its bad and may bring harm to authors. I want everyone to be happy, the author, the translator and the company that makes this possible.
    But as a consumer, my own interests come first. As a consumer, I want to read a lot of cool stories and last year, j-novel has licensed 0 novels that had appeal to me.
    I spend more time reading fan translations than I do official ones because the stuff I am reading is not available as official translation.

    You're not directly, or single-handedly, going to be the cause of this, but the result of that overall mindset continuing unchecked is simply going to be fewer light novels being written in Japan. People can conspiracy theory all they want about Overlord's author ending the series at 17 volumes being a cop out, being lazy, looking for a convenient excuse, etc., but the undeniable truth is that authors out there may stop writing because they don't want their works to be pirated or unofficially translated; some may have already ended their series or chosen not to take a publishing deal because it doesn't pay enough, possibly as a direct result of publishers having to account for the loss of potential international licenses.


  • Premium Member

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

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

    I am quite conflicted when it comes to this, both as an adult with a consciousness and as a avid consumer.
    As an adult I fully understand and agree that its bad and may bring harm to authors. I want everyone to be happy, the author, the translator and the company that makes this possible.
    But as a consumer, my own interests come first. As a consumer, I want to read a lot of cool stories and last year, j-novel has licensed 0 novels that had appeal to me.
    I spend more time reading fan translations than I do official ones because the stuff I am reading is not available as official translation.

    You're not directly, or single-handedly, going to be the cause of this, but the result of that overall mindset continuing unchecked is simply going to be fewer light novels being written in Japan.

    Huh? Where did that statement come from? Got anything to back it up with?
    The way I see it, a lot of aspiring authors debut on ncode.syosetu.com (or other alternatives) and some authors get publishing offers because of that. 95% of what I am currently reading (official or not), has originated on ncode.syosetu.com.
    Which is accidentally a free site.
    Most of the stuff that originates on ncode.syosetu.com remain there once the publishing deal is signed with the author.
    So how is that the first draft of the book is freely available for any Japanese consumer to read alongside the paid book version is not an issue in Japan? Why does this business model work for Japan but not western culture?

    People can conspiracy theory all they want about Overlord's author ending the series at 17 volumes being a cop out, being lazy, looking for a convenient excuse, etc., but the undeniable truth is that authors out there may stop writing because they don't want their works to be pirated or unofficially translated; some may have already ended their series or chosen not to take a publishing deal because it doesn't pay enough, possibly as a direct result of publishers having to account for the loss of potential international licenses.

    Nah, I think Overlord got too big too quickly and author simply cracked. As much as I love Overlord, volume 12 and 13 were underwhelming. Even volume 14 keep relying on the same old and tried joke of main character being 100% incompetent faker and never attempting to improve.

    I never thought that Japanese authors would be relying on western audience to sustain themselves. I always thought that whatever sales happen in the west are only a fraction of what the author will earn at the end. After all, you have the translator, the company that license the work, the Japanese company that let the western company license the authors work, then finally you have the author. I believe the bottom line from western sales can enriches the authors life, but its nowhere near as vital as Overlord author makes it out to be because his main audience is still Japanese.

    The way people consume a certain media changes all the time and companies involved in that media needs to stay ahead of the curve. I wonder what will happen in 5 to 10 years when machine translation tools improve to the point where you can comfortably read free novels on ncode.syosetu.com.


  • Premium Member

    For my part, I can only say that about half of the light novels I'm currently buying were ones I discovered via fan translated manga. But looking at it closer, that's mostly the early half: the novels I discovered 1-2 years ago. Lately, I've for the most part been discovering new novels by looking at publication schedules to see if there's anything that catches my eye.

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

    Why have these plenty of companies not licensed Death Mage Who Doesn’t Want a Fourth Time yet?

    I just thought I'd comment on this one specifically, as I can see multiple reasons why it might not make business sense to licence Death Mage (yet).

    To start with, the official Japanese release schedule for the light novel volumes is very slow (less than two volumes a year), and each volume covers only about half of a single web novel volume, of which there are currently 14 completed, with a 15th (and probably more) on the way.

    That's a minimum of 30 light novel volumes before it reaches its conclusion, which at the current rate of publication, would take over a decade just for the Japanese edition to catch up to where the web novel is now, and on the order of 6-7 years to reach the current point of the fan translation. That's a long time for a company to commit its resources when it isn't even certain that the Japanese edition will survive that long.

    It's also worth mentioning that if the novel gets licenced, there's a good chance Yoshi will have to give up his fan translation gig, which would mean no more new well-translated Death March for western fans for the next 6+ years. A lot of people would probably start praying for google translate to improve miraculously at that point.

    Of course, there's still a chance the publication schedule might speed up once Densuke completes his web novel, and can put all his focus into editing and preparing the light novels for publication. But any licensor should probably be waiting for that to happen before they make the dive.


Log in to reply