The following is an interview with Josh Bakken, Senior Director of Monetization & Growth at Tapas Media, regarding Tapas’ recent partnership with U17, China’s largest digital comics firm. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Bakken about what drew him to Tapas, the incredible comic book titles that the company will bring to English-speaking readers from China, other exciting projects in the works, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: As the Senior Director of Monetization & Growth at Tapas Media, what drew you to the organization and its progress in digital publishing?
Josh Bakken: I think what really drew me to Tapas was how, from a business model perspective, it was just starting to embark on a journey into an uncharted territory, at least here in the US. The idea for independent story creators to have access to a free platform (both on the web and with a free dedicated mobile app) that would allow them to showcase their best work, build an audience, and immediately be able to start sharing in advertising revenue was something really unique.
On top of that, Tapas was also just getting ready to introduce the concept of virtual currency and digital micropayments for stories. That was something no one else was (or is) doing. So, the chance to be a part of all that, and to help lead these new monetization and growth efforts on behalf of indie creators, was just really exciting.
BD: Tapas recently announced its partnership with U17, China’s largest digital comics firm, to bring Asian comic book titles to American audiences and other English-speaking countries. What do you hope that the partnership will enable for both Tapas’ and U17’s readership?
JB: I think our hope is that by continuing to build partnerships like these, Tapas can strengthen its position as a global gateway through which of the best stories from Asia, and around the world, can reach American and other English-readers. Of course, we also want the gateway to go both ways. We are constantly on the lookout for breakout talent in America and the rest of the globe. We want to develop stories not only for Tapas but for other platforms and markets around the world, too. With that said, hopefully 2018 will also find U17 readers enjoying stories from Tapas, as well!
BD: What are some of the titles that Tapas will be bringing to its readers as a result of the new partnership?
JB: Well, right now we currently have 5 titles by U17 available to read including A Couple of Handsome Men and Death, My Love. By the end of Q1, we hope to have many more such as Heart of Cocoon, Honey Catch, and Hate You, Love You.
BD: What are the best ways for interested readers to access Tapas and the upcoming catalog of titles from U17?
JB: Sure! Readers with mobile phones can download the free Tapas app (iOS and Android), create a free account, and do a simple search for “U17.” They can start reading free episodes of U17 stories on their phone within a matter of minutes.
Those without mobile phones can head over to www.tapas.io, create a free account, and again, just search for U17.
BD: Are there any other developments that Tapas has in the works for 2018?
JB: Oh, yeah. We have a lot. Like a lot, a lot. For starters, we have a few print publishing deals for graphic novels with two of the top 4 book publishers in the US. These are projects that members of the Tapas community directly participated in and the first one is scheduled to hit store shelves in mid-2018.
We also just recently signed a few celebrity creators to Tapas that we’re super excited to be working with in 2018. We have YouTuber and Twitch streamer Lilypichu’s Lily’s Life as a Tapas exclusive, as well as the upcoming title from creator-writers Ki Hong Lee (star of The Maze Runner film series and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Chris Dinh (Single By 30, Crush The Skull), and James Chen (Wendy’s LookBook, Studio71).
So yeah, lots going on with us in 2018.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about Tapas?
JB: Just come check us out! Our website is free, our apps are free, and over 99% of the stories on Tapas are free.
When logged into Tapas, make sure to check out the forums. They’re a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about Tapas. We have new members, old members, members who sell their premium content. Even staff members have been known to show up from time to time. So yeah, definitely come check us out!