Alex Yatskov has coded a piece of software that lets you create manga books for the kindle from scanlations (translations of manga into non-Japanese languages). Its quite a neat piece of software that lets you -
- Convert/Quantize images to grayscale to get a richer contrast.
- Downscale images to fit the Kindle’s screen better.
- Rotate the image to better suit the Kindle’s 800 by 600 aspect ratio.
- And other cool things.
I think this is a big step in expanding the functionality of the Kindle. And it’s the biggest step I’ve seen since Igor’s kindle hacks that gave us google maps, the browser, and other things like the picture viewer (which Mangle leverages).
There are a few reasons this piece of software, Mangle, is really interesting (even if, like me, you aren’t sure whether manga is even safe to talk about) -
- My first thought would be extending the software to be used for comics. Since my Kindle is still in Seattle I can’t test it yet. However, perhaps someone will and leave a comment.
- My second thought would be extending the Kindle to hold photo albums and as photo storage. Yes, I know it’s black and white – however it has a large screen, and works perfectly well for storing and looking through images. And Mangle does a good job of taking your images and converting them into Kindle friendly images – and stringing them together into ‘books’/photo-albums.
- Potential Commercial Implications – From Wikipedia‘s manga article, I found out that there is a $4.4 billion dollar manga market in Japan, and a $200 million dollar manga market in the US -
In Japan, manga are widely read by people of all ages, and include a broad range of subjects … Since the 1950s, manga have steadily become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry, representing a 481 billion yen market in Japan in 2006 (approximately $4.4 billion dollars). Manga have also become increasingly popular worldwide. In 2006, the United States manga market was $175–200 million. Manga are typically printed in black-and-white.
- The fact that most manga comes in Black and White is good – since we may not see color eReaders for another 3 years.
- The fact that even without access to Kindle as a platform people are already coding software to extend Kindle functionality.
So major props to Alex for coding Mangle – do give it a spin.
Edit: I’m not promoting piracy. Most manga companies are okay with scanlations since they are not going to release those manga outside of Japan anyways.