May 22, 2008

Protoculture Addicts Magazine

My order came today, and Bob tossed in a copy of issue 95 of Protoculture Magazine as an extra. He had a sticky on the page of his latest ad, and as always his artist has done an astounding job. But leafing through the magazine was quite a revelation.

It's a production of ANN, according to the cover. And it looks like it's done well, though it's not the kind of thing I'd probably be interested in buying regularly. (It's hard for me to read magazines and books anymore because of what old age has done to my eyes.) But leafing through it, something stood out rather starkly: there were almost no ads.

Bandai Entertaiment (good Bandai) got the back cover for Code Geass and Lucky Star. One of Bob's competitors got the inside back cover. Funimation got the inside of the front cover with an ad for Black Blood Brothers. Bob's ad, I already mentioned. ADV had an ad for Kanon. There were also ads from ANN, JBOX, and Brand X. That was it.

A hundred page hobbyist magazine, with only 8 pages of advertising. That is a strong indication that our hobby is well and truly dying -- or at least, that this magazine is. They're only charging $6 cover price for it; how in hell can they keep going?

This kind of niche magazine is a place where readers actively seek out advertising. Go look at a copy of Sky and Telescope some time, or Model Railroader, or any gun magazine, or a hotrod magazine, or a magazine about computer games. Go to a good magazine stand and look at any hobby magazine. The articles in those magazines are almost beside the point; they are monthly catalogs, and that is the primary attraction for their readers.

I would have expected this magazine to be like that, too -- or at least a lot more like that than it was. If this industry was healthy, I would have expected all the R1 release companies to have more than one ad each. I would have expected a lot more than just three DVD retailers.

I feel a cold wind blowing.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 01:38 PM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
Post contains 364 words, total size 2 kb.

1 Maybe all the otaku have moved to the internet? 

Posted by: metaphysician at May 22, 2008 01:56 PM (9Lztf)

2 What's scary is how many issues of P.A. (back to the single digits) I have kicking around in my closet. I'm surprised it hasn't died off yet, since it's not like three-month-old (at the best of times) anime news is much of a valuable commodity in this modern age.

Posted by: GreyDuck at May 22, 2008 02:12 PM (3q5Q5)

3

Protoculture Addicts goes waaaaay back.  It was the first semi-pro anime 'zine to hit the stands, and its amazing survival is due as much to massive amounts of volunteer work as anything else. While it was never as well-written and produced as Animag or Manga Mania, it's got heart.

The industry is struggling, for sure.  ADV has staggered badly twice.  I doubt they'll get a third chance.  Geneon giving up and leaving was a Very Bad Thing.  And Bandai (E) is doomed if they try their lunatic new pricing policy.

Obviously it's been the internet downloads.  And while they have better-looking subs (due to hardcoding) and occasionally have better translations (in my experience, less than 5% of the time at most), they have some serious problems.  Video quality has been an issue, although that has noticeably improved.  About 20%+ of the trnaslations are rife with errors and semi-literate.  And the rush to jam them out ASAP has led not only to sloppy results as noted, but also to a growing issue.  That being that TV broadcasts are increasingly censored, sometimes pretty severely.  But after four or five subbers jam out the series as fast as they can after the TV broadcast, the motivation to resub the higher-quality and uncensored DVDs (much less the bonus material) is pretty much nil.  I think I've personally seen it done twice.

When the major anime companies finally give up or collapse, we'll be missing a lot--more than many fans realize or will admit.

Posted by: Toren at May 22, 2008 04:22 PM (NyLmf)

4 I never really had a lot of use for PA, personally, even back in the day. Dunno why, just didn't do anything for me. Greyduck's dead on in that their major attraction is no more, though.

Back in the day, there was really a use for "we got a tape of this weird obscure show from Japan, and watched it, and it was kinda cool, keep an eye out for it!" types of reviews. These days, even a fairly casual follower can easily keep up, at least to the level of sampling shows. By the time an issue could possibly make it to press, it's already a month out of date...

So yeah, not a new reason to declare the sky to be falling, here. But definitely not indicative of robust health, either!

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at May 22, 2008 07:11 PM (E8YFi)

5 PA was never good, and certainly I rarely read it, but I did give them credit for their "never give up attitude."  In general the rule for USA newsstand magazines is 50% editorial, 50% ads, but if you have really abnormal levels of subscribers, that rule can be bent to one degree or another.  Newsstand sales are a wash in terms of getting dollars back for cover price.  It practically never happens.  More often, you get a bill.  As for timeliness, anime magazines are getting pretty pointless, and that's a fact.  They're vanishing one by one even in Japan, and those that are left have pretty pathetic sales and distribution.

Posted by: Toren at May 22, 2008 10:23 PM (NyLmf)

6 It's true that they may be as much a victim of the web as of the anime market in R1. There's a degree of "you can't make a living as a hooker in a town full of horny coeds" going on here, what with all the people like me posting reviews for free.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 22, 2008 11:17 PM (+rSRq)

7

The UK version of Newtype USA (called Neo for some reason) seems to have vanished in the last few months.

It does seem magazines in all subjects are struggling, I have the last ever Melody Maker in my cupboard, and NME has been in decline for at least a decade. Several car mags have also called it a day over the last few years.

As mentioned beofore news is old by the time the issue hits the shelf. I expect some mags to just say' read our blog for latest news' soon, and focus on reviews and features/interviews.

Andy

Posted by: Andrew Janes at May 23, 2008 12:26 PM (+aSSY)

8 The UK publication was suspended during their recent licensing hiccup, IIRC.

Posted by: ubu at May 23, 2008 03:17 PM (mUfTD)

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