One of the more common criticisms aimed at the whole process of scholarly publishing is that it just takes too long. The period between when an article is first submitted for publication and when it actually appears in a journal takes several months at the least, and may very well be year or more. For example, the authors of Are Australian fans of anime and manga motivated to learn Japanese language presented it for publication in the Asia Pacific Journal of Education in February of 2013. It was accepted that September, but did not appear online until June of 2014 – almost a year and a half later – and only now had made it into an actual issue of the journal. Similarly, the publisher of the Journal of Youth Studies received the manuscript for ‘Growing as a person’: experiences at anime, comics, and games fan events in Malaysia in November of 2014, accepted it in September of last year, and made it available to readers online the next month – but the article is yet to appear in an issue of the journal.

What the length of the publication process means is that scholars are often simply not able to “react” and respond in a timely manner to new developments in the fields that they are interested. If commentary on a particular event or issue does not appear until two years after the event took place or the issue first came up, by the time it does, such commentary may be largely irrelevant – words spent on a long-forgotten topic – to say nothing of the possibility of other, interceding events or issues that may make the commentary itself obsolete.

In fact, academic publishers have largely acknowledged this issue, and have been searching for ways to mitigate it. For the corporate, for-profit publishers, one way has been by allowing electronic access to articles as soon as they have been accepted for publication, regardless of whether nor they have been assigned to a particular issue of a journal – one example of this is the list of “latest articles” in Japan Forum. Non-profit publishers of open-access journals are beginning to forgo the concept of “issues” altogether, and are publishing articles on their journals’ websites continuously – this is the approach taken by Animation Studies and The Comics Grid: Journal of Comics Scholarship, among others.

KickstarterHowever, these kinds of options are meaningless unless scholars who are interested in anime/manga make sure to pay attention to new developments in the field. One such development has been the use of crowdfunding to bring anime to audiences outside Japan. In fact, Western anime companies have been experimenting with crowdfunding (primarily via pre-order campaigns) long before the practice became widespread, but the emergence of major crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo has certainly made these campaigns more prominent. (more…)