Why Yen Plus never took off in the UK

Posted on June 30th, 2010 by Ryu Sheng |

I’m a fairly easy going guy, it takes a lot to get me mad and I can usually take what’s said on the net with a pinch of salt. However this time I’m irritated that some one can make such wild assumptions after a few 140 letter posts.

The entire thing stems from a brief talk on Yen Press’ almost dead Yen Plus anthology.

I’m going to post the entire log of the conversation so you can see for yourself what was said.

    1. @Yuricon i loved yen plus shame it didnt last long
    2. @RyuSheng It’s not gone – just shifting to digital
    3. @Yuricon true, but it’s still a bit dead at the moment, also they dont seem to be in a hurry to give details such as costs
    4. @Yuricon and availability. whether you have to buy in blocks or can go month by month
    5. @RyuSheng You’re asking for an end product, while the benchmarks are still shifting. Chill. It’s coming.
    6. @Yuricon thats why it never really took off over here. they launched something without understanding how to reach their audience
    7. @RyuSheng Never took off…? You’re mistaken. This is new technology, new business models.You’re impatient – and deluded.
    8. @RyuSheng You’re at the VERY first stages of a new thing and you want it to be developed. Oh well. It’s not. Get used to things shifting.
    9. @Yuricon wow talk about swift judging. do you know anything about yen plus in the uk? have you looked at how it was handled?
    10. @RyuSheng We’re talking about two different things. You’ve got an ax to grind with @YenPress, perhaps you should address them directly
    11. @Yuricon again your’re assuming, who said i have an axe to grind? just because i ask pointed questions dosent mean i have an axe to grind

And that was that. This really managed to get under my skin for several reasons. Firstly, we have an American commenting on the british aspects, but what’s more irritating is that after just a few posts she decided I’m deluded and have a grudge against Yen Press.

I’ve always loved that saying (though for the life of me I can’t remember what movie it’s from) “Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups” excuse the language please.

This is especially true when you’re dealing with twitter which doesn’t really afford you the space to really say a lot, that’s not what it was meant for, though it’s fast heading that way.

So. I’ll get back to Yuricon in a minute, first lets look at the facts surrounding the collapse of Yen Plus in the UK.

In short Yen Plus has had the following:

  • Four different prices
  • Four Distributors, then finally NO distributor
  • Dodgy and over priced subscription, with no refunds
  • No set release date
  • No promotion

Okay now into the long bits. Yen Plus over it’s life time has had four different prices in the UK. At it’s release it was sold for the ridiculously cheap £3.99, this price was doomed to be changed. Considering that Yen Press were shipping the magazines from the US to be sold, a £3.99 a copy cover price would mean that there was no profit in it.

So no one was really all that surprised when the price almost doubled up to £6.99. Which put’s it on par with the average manga volume. Then suddenly the UK price was removed from the covers of the volumes, giving the first hints of Yen’s pulling from the UK market.

After the cover price was removed it went up again to £8.99, this was due to the new distributor. Finally after yet another distributor change, the price changed again. Now depending on where you go to buy it, you can expect to pay anywhere between £8.99 and £12.99 an issue, and chances are the prices fluctuate month from month.

For you Americans that’s around $13.45 to $19.42 at today’s exchange rate.

Now, the distributors, this was fun looking into. When Yen Press came to the UK they looked for a distributor, and choose what they thought was the big guns, a company called Comag. In a way they are the big guns, however they only distribute to major cities.

When we went and talked to Comag they were rather forth coming about it. Apparently Yen Plus was getting a limited distribution in three cities, London, Manchester and Birmingham. What’s more it was limited even further with less than sixty stores being able to order the magazine. When asked why the limited distribution, their reply “It was the instructions we were given by the client”. Oh joy of joys.

Next distributor was the Magazine Cafe. They are sort of tied to Comag, but the link is kinda weird and I could never get my head around it lol. However Magazine Cafe did the subscriptions for Yen Plus in the UK. When this was announced I like a lot of people got really excited and rushed to subscribe. Only to find that they were ripping us off in the process.

Usually when you subscribe you get a cover price reduction as a sort of thank you for subscribing. Not with Yen Plus, in fact with Yen Plus you had to pay a premium to subscribe. Yup, you had to pay more than the cover price, it worked to be about 13% extra on top. Nice subscription service guys!! But wait it gets better!!

Yen Press decided that Comag wasn’t working and switched to Diamond UK. Diamond of course being the US and UK’s largest comic book distributor. This had the knock on effect of killing the subscription service as well. So did all of the fans who subscribed get their money back? Did we nelly!! Although some people did apparently in the end get a refund on the outstanding amount most of us were told the balance would be transferred over to a subscription to a new magazine, and no refunds were being offered. So not only were we over charged for the subscription, we also ended up having to buy the magazine twice (first with the subscription and then again from the new distributor).

Diamond UK were the distributor for all of two months before it was finally passed back to the US Diamond. Which now means there is no UK distributor and because comic shops in effect are paying twice as well, prices increased. However because of the currency exchange costs are shifted even more. Hence the now fluctuating prices.

It is worth noting that if you order it monthly from your local comic shop, then they do usually tend to stick to the single price. Some don’t however.

The release date in the UK was fluid as hell, with some months it being released early in the month and others later, and on two occasions no releases for a month and the next month two.

And finally, no promotion what so ever in the UK. If you didn’t know it existed already or found it by chance, through a friend, you’d never have known it was released.

So, with all of that going on, is it any surprise it never really took off in the UK, or that UK fans are wary about new announced digital versions? I’d say we earnt the right to be cautious after being screwed over as much as we have.

Now, back to Yuricon:

  • @RyuSheng Never took off…? You’re mistaken. This is new technology, new business models.You’re impatient – and deluded.

Okay, last I checked Yen Plus was not new, it’s what, almost two years old now? That’s not new by any standard. As for it not taking off, I think that’s covered above, and I don’t see how that makes me deluded.

I then asked if she knew anything about the UK market, which she didn’t answer, which probably means no. So we have an american who knows nothing about the market here, or how the releases were handled, calling me deluded……

  • @RyuSheng You’re at the VERY first stages of a new thing and you want it to be developed. Oh well. It’s not. Get used to things shifting.

No I don’t want it to be developed, I never said that. What I said was I wanted information. Yen didn’t just announce the change to digital version on a whim, they must have looked into it (I’m hoping so at least, but looking at the UK events I wonder >.<).

However the information is pretty important now since the last print version of Yen Plus is due out shortly. So asking for information on how it’s going to be handled from now on isn’t a big issue. And given the way subscriptions in the UK were handled previously I think it’s a valid question to ask how that will be handled this time round.

As for me having an axe to grind, wow i’d love to know how in my few 140 character tweets she came to that assumption. Do I have an axe to grind? Nope, i’m not happy on the inept handling of Yen Plus i’m not going to deny it. But in the long wrong I like a lot of other fans reported the dodgy subscription as credit card fraud, since in effect it was. We paid for a service that wasn’t delivered. Some of us (me included) eventually got our money back, but it depended on the credit card company.

However this is a PR nightmare for Yen Press since UK fans are going to be cautious over any offered subscription, what if it gets cancelled on them again? What’s the costs? etc etc. All questions that are solid and need answering IMO.

I don’t have a grudge against Yen Press, I neither like nor dislike them. I only have like two or three titles that they publish so how could I judge??

I can’t help but wonder though if Yuricon’s defence of Yen Plus and apparent hostility towards me, above, isn’t down to the fact that she herself is a publisher, and that it’s an “all publishers stand united” sort of thing.

I do think it’s sad that people can take a few sentences and then jump to assumptions and start name calling. Especially when they themselves don’t seem to know about the topic in question.

Just because someone asks questions doesn’t mean they’re deluded or have an axe to grind, it just means they have questions.

Also, for the record, I most likely will buy Yen Plus in it’s digital form, since the few Yen Press titles I get are serialised in it 😀

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