The Japanese e-book publisher Bitway has made a $750,000 investment in the San Francisco-based media distribution Website Crunchyroll. Bitway is a major distributor of electronic books and manga in Japan. Earlier this year Crunchyroll announced that TV Tokyo had made a $750,000 strategic investment in the company and that the company was expecting a second tranche of investment from an “undisclosed group of major Japanese publishers” to close soon (see “Crunchyroll Gets $750K”).
According to the Anime News Network, Bitway is looking to “work with Crunchyroll to build a comic distribution platform overseas, with an emphasis on the United States and Canada.” There is already a lot online manga reading (see “Pirate Manga Site Makes Google’s Top 1000” and “Manga Publishers Form Anti-Piracy Coalition”), and it remains to be seen if manga publishers can create a viable method of digital distribution that can provide an attractive alternative to piracy. If successful, Crunchyroll’s efforts to digitally distribute manga might even blaze a trail for online distribution of other types of comic book material.