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Digital Manga: Saving Space One Title at a Time

Crunchyroll manga.

Crunchyroll manga.

Google the term “manga collection” and get a look at readers who collect hundreds or thousands of it. It’s often stored on bookshelves — sometimes double-stacked to make room. I have no hate for people who want to collect that way, but the thought of doing so myself gives me anxiety. I couldn’t imagine moving a lot of books. Good thing for digital options — I keep everything on my iPad.

Now that digital books are popular, more options are available for users. U.S. Publishers see digital manga as a practical way to sell manga. I think scanlations played a part in this. The scanlation community filled in a demand that publishers weren’t offering. But now we’re finally getting somewhere with legal options. English publishers and online stores that sell digital manga include Amazon via Kindle, GooglePlay, Viz Media, Sublime (part of Viz Media), Yen Press, Digital Manga Publishing, and Dark Horse.

There still aren’t as many digital titles available as physical manga, I’ll admit. But it’s growing. Visit a site like Amazon or Barnes and Noble to see if the manga you want is available. If you don’t mind owning Japanese manga you can use Bookwalker.jp to fill in gaps. It’s a web store I recommend because most of its catalog is available to people outside Japan. They have manga magazines, fashion magazines, and books available. Bookwalker’s prices are cheap compared to digital manga or physical manga from either country. For example, the physical version of the magazine Baila, costs $10-$30 depending on where you buy it. Yet on Bookwalker, you can get it on digits for less than $5. The same is true for their manga and light novels.

Translated front page of Bookwalker.JP. Google Chrome.

Translated front page of Bookwalker.JP. Google Chrome.

Bookwalker has an English store. You can read Bookwalker’s purchases on your phone, tablet, or computer. They also have deals where you can read manga for free for a limited time.

For me, reading digital manga has its perks. You get the gratification of reading what you buy as soon as you order. No one has to see your large collection. You need not worry about running out of space. Yes, a media device can die. But with proper backups and the ability to re-download purchases makes the point moot. Instead of having to re-buy a lost physical item, I can download it again at no extra charge. If you have DRM-free copies, like with Sublime, you can make extra backups.

There are a few downsides to digital manga. I’ve mentioned that not everything is available in a digital format, but the gap is closing. Perhaps the biggest trade-off is DRM. The downfall of JManga is a good example of why digital manga with DRM turns off potential consumers. If the company shuts down a service or closes, you run a huge risk of losing your money. You don’t own the manga — at least not the way you own a physical copy. Larger publishers and stores such as Viz Media and Amazon are less likely to close their doors soon. I’m willing to invest money with stable companies while being more cautious with startups.

Sneak peak of a few of my wishlisted items from Bookwalker.

Sneak peak of a few of my wishlisted items from Bookwalker.

If you aren’t willing to go 100 percent digital because of the trade-offs, there are a few options. Try going to your library, using sites like PaperBackSwap, or online groups that trade manga. Crunchyroll is steadily growing its manga catalog. You can also buy and resell manga you’ve read on eBay or GarageSaleJapan. These options offer non-digital alternatives with no need to keep manga.

Buying digital manga is not for everyone. I know people like to turn the pages or like the smell of books — no way I can talk you out of that. But I like it. It’s good way to collect manga while saving space. Hopefully, digital manga will find its permanent place with readers the same way ebooks have.

Adrienne

Adrienne

Current News and Trends Writer
Writer/photographer obsessed with villains and megane. Hobbies include watching anime and dramas, gaming, eating Korean food, and reading.
Adrienne

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12 Comments

  • Great post that everyone has definitely been wondering about. I like the fact that digital manga is much more convienient but it hurts my eyes and gives me a headache. This is partly why I stopped scanlations. I just want a huge library that’s taken care of. Just like my books, I want my manga to shine. I know it’s materialistic and dumb to some people, but seeing a full shelf makes me happy:)

    If digital manga works best for you, then great!! 🙂 As long as everyone is happy about their collection, I say it’s a great thing. Just so long as digital doesn’t replace the print.

  • This a great post. Digital manga are something I’ve always struggled with; I’m a big fan of print books. That being said, I recently moved, and carting bins and bins of books, regardless of how much I like them, is a real pain in the butt.

    For now I sort of have a mental split: I might check out digital for series I’m mostly just curious about, but if I really love the series I can’t resist having a print copy.

    • I have a couple of manga left because they are important to me, so I understand. :D.

  • Thank you for this awesome post. I’m gradually moving to digital. I’ve been wondering about “Bookwalker.jp” Japanese and English stores. Can I have 1 account and access both store, or 1 for each? In case, that 1 account is needed, how does one navigate japanese store in English? Thanks again.

    • You can use one account on both sites. I bought a manga from the Global store and it downloaded to the same app as my Japanese manga. To view the Japanese store, if you don’t know Japanese, I suggest using Google Chrome. Its auto-translate feature will help you. The translations are accurate enough to let you move around the site. If you want to look for a specific manga, you can look it up by its English title (or romanji title) on Wikipedia or Mangaupdates. They usually list the Japanese title alongside the English one. Then just copy and paste the Japanese title into the search bar. Hope that helps ^_^.

      • Great. Thank you for your detailed reply. So it sounds like, one would buy from the web and download to app or read from browser, right? I have another question, hope you don’t mind. How do you like the app for reading experience, say comparing to Viz, kindle, or Crunchy roll (for ex: navigation, page turning, zooming, book marking) ?

        • They have apps for Windows and Mac, so no need to read from a browser with Bookwalker. I use Amazon Kindle app for everything except Japanese language manga. It’s been awhile since I’ve tried others so I can’t give a fair opinion, unfortunately. Maybe I can revisit different manga apps and do a post on it?

          • Thank you for your replies. I’ll check out the app on ipad, then. You’re awesome 🙂

        • Forgot to add that you can purchase manga in the app or from a browser from your phone. Although if you use the app and want to look at the global store, it will launch in the web browser (from the app). Although, this is what happens on the iOS app, I’m not sure about non-iPhones.

          • Thanks again for your post. I bought 3 japanese volumes on bookwalker yesterday, it’s great. I also like that the app allows more than one bookmarks per volume. The navigation is smooth and zooming is awesome!!! I notice that there are 2 bookshelves available and only 50 books per shelf. Do you know if more bookshelves can be added? There are lots of interesting series and I don’t have to worry about physical shelves 🙂
            Happy Holidays.

            • Sorry for the delay in response. I did this from my iphone, but if you go to your bookshelf and press “edit” at the top, it will give you the option to add another bookshelf. So if you fill up the two default ones you can go back and add another bookshelf. It should be the same or similar for a tablet.

              • Thanks so much for your reply. Happy New Year!

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