You surely are familiar with this news. (Sorry for the slowness in posting this. Was under the weather earlier this week, and the original draft of this thing was kind of messy and all over the place, so I decided to wait and come back to it.)
In the comments of my previous post, on JManga, I commented on how, even though I like and appreciate JManga, I would have liked it more if their titles had been available as download to own- even knowing that licensing manga is a complicated process that I know little about, having never worked in it, and there's only so much a licensor has control over when negotiating with the (not necessarily forward-thinking or reasonable) company that holds the rights it wants. I know, even typing this, that I'm just an armchair quarterback commenting on the pros.
ALC did with the excellent yuri manga Rica'tte Kanji!? what I (and many others) consider the ideal means of selling manga digitally- making it available as a downloadable, DRM-free ebook. The digital Rica omnibus (with more story material than the original print version) was priced lower than the original print version at $4.99 and $5.99, the $5.99 version coming with more nifty extras than the $4.99 version. With enough digital copies of the Rica omnibus sold, ALC could put out a print version of it, which is what a lot of people held off buying the digital version for. It's a catch-22 that didn't translate into good sales. (Btw, the Rica omnibus is still purchasable electronically, and one can still read it online for free.)
I'm focusing on the low sales for the digital release of Rica in my reaction to the news about ALC here because I- apparently naïvely- expected its sales to be better than they were, and saw it as a model for how manga (and books, period!) should be sold digitally. That is, as close as possible to what it is like to buy a print book, with your purchase not dependent on whether whoever you bought it from remains in business.
Anywho, thanks to ALC, I got to read some great yuri by mangaka who would not be sought out by other manga publishers, being josei and independent. I also saw Poor Poor Lips and a bunch of Yuri Hime titles licensed thanks to ALC's partnership with JManga. Yeah, it didn't work out, but better to try and not succeed than not try at all- something that a lot of people fail to grasp.
In short, I am thankful for what ALC has done during its years in business, appreciate the effort Yuricon has put into events in the past (a lot of people talk about wanting a yuri panel or event where they live, but few take action to make it happen; if you really want one and there isn't one in your area, stop talking and walk the walk, unless you live in an area where holding an event focusing on fictional lesbian relationships wouldn't fly), and look forward to continuing to read Okazu.