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Ayappi here (*☻-☻*)
I love manga. The stories are much more in depth, come out earlier than their animes (most of the time) and I could easily binge read a series to the end in under 2 hours compared to a standard 12 episode anime. It’s also cheaper compared to buying the BD and Blu Rays of our favorite series, if you’re not a fan of Crunchyroll or other websites.
“Other websites” (you know what I’m talking about) aside, some of us genuinely want to support the artists. Some of us want to buy the manga and read without facing moral dilemmas or legal debates with people online. Some of us, just really like the idea of buying manga. In this day and age, there are two primary options the average manga fan could buy his or her favorite manga series, eBook (through Amazon or eBookJapan, etc.) and physical printed copies. Personally, despite the convenience of an all eBook library, I still prefer buying physical copies of my favorite manga series. Please do allow me to explain why:
We all know the benefits of eBooks. They’re lightweight, are probably cheaper than their physical counterparts, are not susceptible to the elements, and are just plain cooler in person compared to a traditional paperback. The main problem I have with eBooks however, is that while I could easily read them on my iPad (which is a bonus considering how I use an iPad as my main school computer) on the car ride to school, without bringing a bigger bag to accomodate the manga, too many variables come into play that keep bothering me (and by extension my wallet).
One of my concerns is how selecting a certain service will lock you to their proprietary software and file formats, as well as lock you in their manga collection. In other words, this means I can’t read my eBookJapan purchases in my Kobo reader, or I can’t read the ones I purchased from Rakuten Kobo in the ebIReader app on my iPad. This limits what you could read, and it certainly in some cases defeats the “convenience” part of the eBooks. So this means, if you wanted to read Blend S, but it isn’t available in Kindle, you’re pretty much toast. While you could argue that it’s as simple as installing the apps for the individual services and making accounts for all of them, I would much rather save myself the frustration of remembering where I put this and that. This is especially when I get to a point when I have over 90 titles already on hand.
However, probably the biggest worry I have is really the possibility of how eBooks will not end up well in Japan. The country has a history of preferring physical over digital media, and I remember reading an article as to why Spotify will fail in Japan due to this exact reason. While yes, it hasn’t happened yet, and there is an increasing number of articles on eBooks in Hatena Blog (Japanese blogging platform), I would save myself the uncertainty. The eBook manga may be cheap sometimes (which I’ll get to in a minute), but losing all my purchases because of the shutdown of the servers hosting them, is not a good tradeoff. I’m pretty sure anyone would go bonkers if they lost even just JPY10000 worth of manga, which isn’t much in my opinion but still big. And even if eBooks become successful in Japan, that doesn’t mean the companies that host eBooks would eventually shut down soon. We’re talking huge money here after all.
Now let me get into why I prefer buying the physical copies of my favorite manga versus the digital ones. First and foremost, there are just some things you couldn’t get from a digital copy compared to when buying a physical copy. I’m talking about character cards, clear files, alternative covers, even something as mundane as those small strips of paper that advertise the manga or its anime after each volume. They’re very small things, but honestly, they make me happy knowing that I have something probably not a lot of people have or take for granted. Also, sometimes, at least in my experience, these art cards are things not easily found online, or sold in conventions and anime goods stores, so I treasure them personally.
Another thing is the long term effects of buying a physical copy. For one thing, physical copies could be a form of investment because you could resell the manga after you’ve read it if you want extra money in your pocket. You probably won’t be able to get all your money back (unless you’re lucky), but you at least get a fraction of it back. In some cases, the cost after reselling could be significantly less than discounts on eBook services. This is something eBooks can’t do, and is probably one of the big advantages of physical copies over eBooks, at least that’s how I know it to be. If you know of a service that allows you to sell eBooks, please do let me know.
Another long term effect, given you take really good care of your books, is that their existence is not bound by some company. Like I mentioned earlier, your eBooks are bound by the existence and operation of the company’s servers. With physical books, it’s all on you. Sure, it’s more susceptible to weather damage, or the occasional pest eating the paper, but I personally handle my books carefully so I have no problems so far. Well save for one Dengeki magazine, but really it’s just a chip on the end. Still perfectly readable.
Also, and let’s face it, it just looks cooler to have an entire library of your favorite manga. While yes, swiping on a screen or tapping on a keyboard to turn the page is cool and the future, personally I find the look and feel of a library more relaxing while still being really cool. Imagine it, a wall of manga, a recliner beside a window in a room lit by warm lighting. Probably a fireplace too, because I’m weak to the cold.
Now to be fair, this isn’t to say eBooks should be entirely avoided. There are some cases where eBooks could actually make lots more sense compared to importing manga or buying the physical translated copies of our favorite manga. One such scenario I could think of is if the customs office in your country is horrible, and you’d much rather jump off a cliff than deal with their corrupt ways, or if importing goods from Japan is illegal (never heard of it but who knows). With an eBook, all you need is a credit card and you’re good to go. No customs duties, headaches or missing packages and money.
Another scenario where the limited nature of eBooks might make sense is if we’re buying one of those “Monthly” or “Weekly” manga magazines such as everyone’s favorite Shonen Jump or Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh, or Weekly Sunday Champion. I’m actually considering doing this once I get more allowance (teehee). These are those really thick manga magazines you see in anime that could easily take up space at home. I’m pretty sure most of us throw out read, old magazines at some point in our lives, so this actually makes sense, especially if you’re lacking living space. You bought your monthly or weekly manga, got to read it, and you don’t have to worry about where to stash it until the trash collector comes.
It also makes sense given how these weekly/monthly manga are better read within a week of their release dates. I swear, importing a weekly or monthly manga is stupid in practice. By the time it arrives in your doorstep, next month’s or week’s issue is already out. You’re much better off importing or buying physical copies of volumes of manga.
So yes, that’s pretty much what I have to say on the matter for now! Personally I still prefer buying the physical copies due to the reasons I said above (and yes, I will be building my library once I move soon!). How about you? Do you prefer eBooks or physical books? Please do let me know your thoughts and opinions on the matter!
Until next time! Please remember to enjoy life and manga ❤