2D Market is an online web shop aimed at selling digital doujins. Working together with doujin artists they bring translated, uncensored, high-resolution digital works to fans worldwide.
We sat down with the representative of the shop and asked him about the intricacies of running such an establishment, potential difficulties during their operations and about direct contact with doujinshi authors and artists.
LewdGamer: Why did you decide to get into the business of selling uncensored doujinshi and manga in the first place?
2D Market: The original idea came from a discussion I had with my friend (now business partner) about the popularity of doujinshi in the West and the lack of any legal means of buying them. After that, we dug out some numbers that proved that their popularity wasn’t just in our heads. Since I had some previous experience with scanlating doujinshi and manga, I had a rough idea about the process that goes into translating and editing one doujinshi into English and some contacts. On top of that, my friend already had arrangements to move to Japan for unrelated reasons, so we knew he could work from there to get in contact with the authors.
So we decided to make a website, contact a few authors via email and see how will the whole thing proceed from there. Well, it kinda escalated.
LewdGamer: Did you encounter any difficulties when starting up your business?
2D Market: The biggest difficulty we encountered was the same one that hits any business dealing with adult material: how to let people give you money. The adult industry has always had a harder than average time getting banks and payment processors to work with them (don’t even bother with PayPal, Google or Amazon, pornography goes against their Acceptable Use Policy), but on top of that, around the time we were starting the Operation Choke Point was in full swing.
I don’t want to go into gritty details, but let’s just say that we could have started doing business at least 6 months earlier, had it not taken so long for us to find a payment processor willing to work with us.
LewdGamer: How big is your team and did it grow over time?
2D Market: From the start, our core team has been two people on two different continents. Web development and manga editing is done in Europe, while translation and working with doujinshi authors takes place in Japan. Since we started, we’ve had over a dozen great people who work as external contractors for web design, translation, editing and various other things. To ensure we weren’t in legal hot water, we also kept in touch with a few people who had more business experience than us and had some legal expertise in publishing. Seeing how our business has been expanding recently, we might have to expand our core team soon.
LewdGamer: How big would you judge the demand for uncensored pornographic manga and doujinshi is?
2D Market: To put it simply: I don’t think that anyone who wishes to read pornographic manga or doujinshi would ever want to read it censored. Even in Japan, where it’s a legal issues, people don’t appreciate the censorship in their porn. They just put up with it. In fact, some of the authors who are currently featured on our site were genuinely impressed that it was possible for their work to be sold uncensored.
So the real question is how big is the demand for pornographic manga and doujinshi in general. I can’t disclose our numbers, but I can tell you that we’re pleased with the reception we’ve been seeing. And it only takes one to take a look at the number that some “unlicensed” sites provide to see how many people are interested in these kinds of materials. People like porn, stop the presses.
Still, I do think that there’s a slight demographic difference between people interested in ero manga and original doujinshi versus people interested in parody doujinshi. Original stories tend to be more “mainstream”, since they allow one to jump right in and enjoy the full package. Parody doujinshi, on the other hand, require the knowledge of the source material to fully enjoy. Because of that, doujinshi audience skews more towards people who already watch anime, read manga or play Japanese games. On the upside, since parody doujinshi can rely on the source work to do character development and world building, they can jump to action pretty much immediately, keep it going till the last page and, provided you’re familiar with the source material, leave you feeling satisfied.
LewdGamer: There are people out there that already irregularly provide uncensored hentai manga for free. Do you consider them competition?
2D Market: Yeah, scanlators sometimes decensor manga they work on, but I don’t really see that as an issue. I’m sure it’s fun for the people doing it, and the result usually looks better than the censored version, but it’s ultimately a redraw. Original uncensored artwork will always be better than the redraw, and that’s not even counting the fact that the files that we get to work with are higher resolution that the scans available to scanlators.
In fact, I think that the whole culture of decensoring demonstrates how much people dislike censorship in their Japanese manga, and the act of decensoring is their attempt at “restoring” the artwork to its original form.
LewdGamer: A lot of Japanese mangaka and doujinshi creators are quite busy people working from convention to convention to meet submission deadlines. How hard has it been contacting these Japanese authors and artists?
2D Market: I’ll start with an anecdote: There’s a scene in the anime Shirobako (for those who haven’t watched it, it’s a really good anime about… producing anime), where the anime production staff decides to bypass the corporate middleman and contact the author of the work they’re adapting directly. They get an email response within a few minutes. Suffice to say that my suspension of disbelief was utterly shattered by that scene.
To get back on a serious note, I don’t think that calling the doujinshi creators “very busy” does justice to the amount of time they put into their work. Many of the doujinshi creators work on a lot extra stuff in addition to their doujinshi: commissioned chapters for commercial magazines, commissioned illustrations and commissioned promotional material, to give a few examples. And for a lot of them, all this combined barely provides them enough money to get by.
The situation has been getting even worse for quite some time now, with stricter regulations on commercial magazines and the sale of adult materials cutting even more into their income. This is the reason more and more creators are turning to doujinshi as the main source of their income, or to Patreon or Enty (Japanese equivalent to Patreon) to supplement it. There’s a whole essay there waiting to be written about the effect this has on the rising bar of quality needed to succeed in the doujinshi market, but it will have to wait another time.
In the meantime, we’ve learned from experience that the best way to contact doujinshi creators is to visit them during the doujinshi conventions. Unless they were swarmed with customers, most were very glad to have a talk with us.
LewdGamer: How open were the creators you managed to contact about their works being sold uncensored outside of Japan?
2D Market: To our surprise, very few were negative about the idea. Considering virtually no one is selling uncensored doujinshi outside Japan, you would think there’s some big cultural or ideological reason for that. From what we’ve seen, there really isn’t. My guess is that the language barrier on both sides was just that strong of a deterrent.
LewdGamer: Do you eventually plan to sell physical copies of the books?
2D Market: There are currently no plans for that, but if enough people are interested, we’ll definitely consider it.
There’s no doubt physical copies are great for collecting and displaying, especially since colored cover pages are the norm. As many LewdGamer readers know though, digital copies are more practical to use, since it’s easier to flip pages with one hand.
LewdGamer: What are the latest artists that you managed to get on board?
2D Market: Our followers on twitter might have noticed that we’ve been a bit quiet since the start of the year. That was because we’ve been working on finalizing deals with several creators and were just now finally ready to announce five new circles that will be getting on our site.
I urge all interested readers to check out the announcements we’ve written on our blog since they contain some interesting info about those circles (and a few lewd images). For everyone seeking instant gratification, the circles we’ve announced are Shouwa Saishuu Sensen, Ashitakara Ganbaru, Fatalpulse, Triangle! and Mieow. There’s something for everyone in there.
We’re especially proud about getting Asanagi and Rustle (the artists behind Fatalpulse and Mieow, respectively) on board, since with them we now control 63,4% of the lucrative anime reaction faces market.
LewdGamer: Do you plan to expand beyond selling manga?
2D Market: Similar to our answer about the physical copies, there are currently no plans to branch out. We’d like to first focus on expanding the number of doujinshi on our site and the overall quality of experience people get when they use our site. Still, some of the doujinshi from the circle Triangle! that we just announced straddle the border between manga and CG set, so that’s one venue that we’ll be exploring.
LewdGamer: Thank you for your time and we wish you all the best in your venture. We hope to see a lot more great artists on your service.
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