I was going to respond in a reblog, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to link right to her post, and I felt that keeping it in-line was unreasonable given the length*, so you get a brand new post.
(*Sukesou always goes all-out when you ask her an interesting question. :P
This is a translation of sukesou's response to durendals's question. You can find the original Japanese at the link above.
As a general note, the actual use of the word “doujin” in Japanese is fairly different from the meaning it’s acquired as an English loanword. What we think of as doujin is often referred to as “manga” in Japanese, with its status as fanwork implied by its context. But of course, we tend to think of “manga” as a word reserved for original works. So I’ve neutralized the word into “comics” in my translation, which I think is easily understood as a medium independent of fan status. Note that I am not generally referring to Western comics with that word. Similarly, I’ve neutralized “doujinshi” into “fanzine” because it’s used here to refer to all sorts of “fan magazines” (which is literally what that word means in Japanese). Note that these “magazines” are often closer to a prim and proper published book in form—I’ve written “fanzines” at some point here where the original word was “book,” because I don’t think we’re so accustomed to referring to fanworks as books even when they take book form.
In 2011, the administrators of Comic Market*, Japan’s largest fanzine sales event, released a report about Comic Market.
[*Note: You probably know Comic Market by its contracted name, Comiket.]
According to the report, the ratio of goods for sale at Comic Market are as follows: for female fancircles, comics*2 at 70.4%, novels at 31.9%, artbooks at 7.1%; for male fancircles, comics at 57.7%, artbooks at 24.2%, novels at 11.8%. These numbers do not distinguish between original works and derivative works, but I believe that the numbers would be quite similar even if it were fanworks alone.
Comics are probably so prevalent because Japanese people love comics, and historically speaking, fandom’s growth owed itself to fanworks in comic form. (The fanzine sales event is called Comic Market after all!)
The percentage shares of novels and artbooks are quite different between male and female fancircles. I think the reason for that might be because fangirls get their moe from stories, while fanboys are inclined toward getting their moe visually…?
The rest of the share goes to comics. They sell best, so I imagine that a lot of people want to sell comics for that reason.
There isn’t a stigma against selling fanfiction in Japan like there is in the west, but something I hear a lot is “fanfiction doesn’t sell (as well as comics).” When it comes to female audiences, artbooks—excluding those done with considerable skill—don’t sell very well either. (Of course, collections of popular peoples’ and professionals’ art sell quite well.)
In the same report, the percentages of available goods bought by shoppers are as follows: among women, 96.6% for comics, 73.4% for novels, 43.0% for artbooks; among men, 88.4% for comics, 62.8% for artbooks, 38.4% for novels.
When you look at the sales figures, a reasonable proportion of novels and artbooks sell. I think the perception of what “sells” or “doesn’t sell” is solely due to the way people are examining things. For example, if you bought five comics and one novel, framed this way you’re only considering how many comics and novels you bought. People who go to Comic Market usually buy a lot of books. As such, I think they tend to end up having bought a ton of manga, and just a few novels and artbooks.
When it comes to selling fancomics, fanfiction, and fanart, in Japan (save for a few cases which I will cover later) it’s considered a gray zone and hasn’t become taboo. This is because fanzine sales do not translate to lost sales of the original work (rather, there are cases when they boost sales) so it seems to frequently be the case that Japan’s copyright holders think it over and tacitly accept it. In Japan, while characters and worlds are things you can borrow, a derivative work’s story, composition, and layout are generally believed to be the original artistic work of its creator. I think this is another part of the reason.
However, despite what I’ve said, it’s important to be cautious about derivative merchandise. Some Japanese copyright holders who leave fanzines alone will send warnings over derivative merchandise. (For example, a warning about “Uta no Prince-sama!”[=The Prince of Song] derivative merchandise: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2140033062359539901)
When it comes to things that compete with officially released merchandise (for example, if a fan made rubber straps when official ones are on the market), and things involving designs that incorporate the anime/game’s logo (such as a uniform or item), official producers view this kind of behavior as interference. (But there are still people who make them, and they’re always making a fuss.)
A situation where copyright holders crack down on fanzines is when the category of those zines is itself taboo in Japan. (In these cases, comics, novels, and artbooks are all stigmatized.) A good example is Disney. Disney fanworks, including those for the game Kingdom Hearts, are taboo. Many fanzine printing companies refuse to print Disney-related fanzines.
Works with foreign copyright (such as Harry Potter), which are strictly controlled, are—though not as much as with Disney—also a type of work where one must be careful in their fan activities.
There are volumes out there, but one type of work where one must tread lightly is are “real person” and “semi-real person”* works. “Real person” works involve characters based off real actors, while “semi-real person” refers to derivative works of dramas and action shows that use real actors. Unlike works involving characters that don’t actually exist, since these works are based off of real people, these derivative works must strictly be kept hidden where they will not attract the attention of the subjects themselves and normal fans.
[*Note: As I’m not well acquainted with this part of fandom, I’m not sure if a word for this already exists in fan culture, so I’ve transliterated the Japanese term. I have a hunch it does, but if so, I’ve forgotten it.]
This got pretty long. It must be a lot of work for Ammie-san to translate… ><
[Note: I told her not to worry about it in the Japanese up at the top. :P]