For the past decade, humans have found themselves bombarded with different handheld gadgets. From mobiles to tablets, there’s just no stopping the incoming notifications!
Since the technological era also prompts collectors to buy digitally, can we justify how a digital manga set is better than a physical one?
To those dedicated collectors who only purchase and collect physical mangas — listen up! You may be collecting physical mangas, but I hope this blog will enlighten you to go digital as well.
10. Inability to Return/Resell
Returning/reselling digitally is impossible because a copy of an e-manga is authentically associated with the buyer’s digital ID. These identification tags are likely encrypted/secured so they can only be associated with the buyer’s e-reader account.
Digital mangas are not tradeable nor shareable, which sadly minimizes the monetization opportunities for sellers who pre-owned second-hand mangas (some of which they’ve outgrown already).
9. Bundle Deals
Affordable Humble Bundle Deals, like the ones offered by Kodansha Comics and Vertical Comics, make digital collecting a painless experience.
Unlike DRMs (non-tradeable or non-shareable “Digital Rights Management” e-mangas), Humble Bundle Deals are cool because you can just do whatever you want with them!
But the deals are only offered by a few manga publishing houses; furthermore, they’re only available to buyers for a limited time!
However, during Spring 2021, over 11,600 Kodansha e-mangas were sold through bundle deals (worth $240,000+)!
However, during Spring 2021, over 7,600 Kodansha e-mangas were sold through bundle deals (worth $240,000+)!
Not only does this program help buyers save money, but Kodansha also donated some of the proceeds to charity; it’s a win-win situation!
8. Non-appearance of the Centerfold
The centerfold or “gutter” splits the two leaves of a double-paged spread so comic strips can flow fluidly.
A glorious illustration sometimes utilizes a double-paged spread. In doing so, it disabled the mangaka from using the gutter. The gutter still exists; however, it appears to be “invisible” when the user flips the digital pages.
Since the gutter isn’t often digitally visible, mangakas can present their impactful double-paged illustrations seamlessly!
But gutters on physical mangas sometimes force the readers to pull and stretch the front and back covers; thus, wearing and tearing the book!
Doing this to my physical mangas irritates me. But I’m glad I can read digitally so I can see the enticing double-paged illustrations without any distractions!
7. Digital Subscriptions
Digital subscriptions mean that collectors can add as many e-mangas as they like on their devices provided, they pay monthly digital subscriptions plus taxes! They can also read mangas even without Wi-fi (meaning that users can read e-mangas offline anytime and anywhere)!
Furthermore, if you subscribe for the first time because you’re a new user, your first month of e-reading will be for free! Then, afterwards, the subscription fees will approximately be $10 monthly! What a deal!
Acquiring e-book subscriptions mean access to multiple mangas that users can binge-read and leave “open” for a month!
But users must add the eligible books to their e-readers so they can enjoy access to over 1 million mangas while reading anytime and on any device!
But the e-mangas you added during your subscription will not be accessible anymore after you cancel your monthly payments.
Thus, users can only access the ones they downloaded (via Kindle, Kobo, etc.) during the period that they are subscribed. Harsh!
In effect, your e-mangas became leasable only because your rights to them expired. You don’t have access to them anymore since the monthly subscriptions already finished.
Manga “leases” also expire because some e-manga subscriptions are only exclusively available to limited regions. Furthermore, if there are no effective backup strategies, you won’t access them regardless of the storage devices you used!
6. Absence of Physical Damage
E-manga collectors never have to worry about wear and tear, water damage, and discoloration of the manga pages to yellow!
Discoloration is the worst! When sunlight and the oxygen in the air hit the lignin molecules of the wood pulp (a material that paper is made from), the paper becomes exposed to the lignin oxidation in the air (slowly transforming manga pages to yellow)!
In this instance, we can safely claim that digital mangas are better because they can virtually last forever. Absence of lignin oxidation means discoloration avoidance!
If you accidentally delete your e-manga volumes from your e-reader’s digital shelves, you can always download them from the website that you purchased from (e.g., eBooks, Google Play, etc.).
The portability of digital manga is thanks to its Multiple File-Formats (MFF) features which help the collector saves physical space! Fans can read e-mangas on their gadgets via their e-reader apps (Kobo, Kindle, etc.)
Thus, they save physical space because digital sets do not consume bookshelf spaces; but the avid e-manga collectors must enlarge the digital storage of their gadgets if they constantly purchase e-manga box sets (which they can do by purchasing storage spaces)!
A Viz Media manga volume averages 200 pages. This means that a single 200-paged e-manga volume occupies approximately 140 MB (megabytes) in a mobile Kobo app and 150 megabytes in a desktop Kobo app.
In other words, the more e-mangas the collector purchases, the steeper the prices they must pay so their One Drive, Apple Drive, or Google Drive can accommodate the large storage of their digital manga collection! Yikes!
4. Release Frequency
Digital mangas come out faster than physical mangas. And sometimes, the physical mangas become delayed because of bottlenecks in the supply chain.
Bottlenecks simply hinder the smooth flow or transition of a manga series’ distribution within the supply chain.
But with digital mangas, it’s possible to finish collecting the e-manga sets quickly for less than a year because they’re immediately available within 3 to 4 months on several e-manga reader platforms like Kobo, Amazon, etc.!
Meanwhile, physical mangas are slower to collect. This is especially true for rare manga series which may take up to 5 years!
Those rare manga series may not be that popular which makes them harder to find on the market. They’re difficult to find on local book shops and may not be available in BookFinder!
If that rare manga series obtains an anime reboot, the series could revitalize its popularity. It’s only then that those rare manga series warrant re-prints of newer editions because they finally become on-demand.
The truth is: release frequency depends on the demand of the series. Many popular and on-demand mangas are available digitally and physically. Meanwhile, those that don’t cut are only available digitally but not physically.
Some unpopular mangas also remain unpopular because they are only available digitally; they are rarely distributed through the physical media!
3. Digital Releases Only
“Digital Releases Only” refers to how some series can only be released in digital formats, especially ones that are unpopular or subpar.
Many “good-enough” manga/light novel titles failed in acquiring third-party licenses and print releases rights, “Those titles do not earn enough money and only obtained below-average public ratings.”
Kodansha Comics (publisher of many CLAMP titles, Fairy Tail, and Attack on Titan [AoT]) is prioritizing digital releases before print ones as far as I know.
Who knows whether this policy has changed! But it’s justifiable why Kodansha prioritizes digital chapters: they can legally sell them online, especially when Kodansha’s bread-and-butter is the massive AoT franchise!
Back when AoT was releasing monthly, many fans prefer catching up to the latest chapters (which become digitally available first before being sold through a physical AoT volume).
If you only keep up with the physical AoT volumes, you are way behind already! You miss out on hot online discussions, and might even get spoiled because you see AoT meme spoilers on Twitter, on a YouTube thumbnail, etc.
It’s sad to say that the unpopular/average titles don’t get print releases because they’re not on-demand. But a bigger factor could also be subscription paywalls which hinder a variety of genres (some of which are popular for adults, but unpopular for the massive kids-teens-and-youth demographics).
Two examples are “Josei” (adult women demographics) and “Boys’ Love” or “BL” (transgender, bisexual, etc. demographics).
As far as I know, BL titles neither have physical nor digital nor any other “pay-to-own” legal options! Meanwhile, Josei titles are not published as quickly as their Shōjo or Seinen counterparts.
It seems unfair from a buyer’s perspective but reasonable from a seller’s viewpoint. If you don’t make money on the series’ printed releases, it’s better to discontinue them. Just release them digitally since it saves costs in the long run.
Still, there are very few fans who’d like to own the physical copies of these not-so-popular genres just so they can give variety or flair to their physical manga collection!
2. Digital Recent Chapters
The latest manga chapters of an ongoing series are only available digitally. The paperbacks won’t come out until after a year or so!
Good examples are One Piece, Demon Slayer (when it was still releasing), My Hero Academia, Black Clover, Jujutsu Kaisen, Choujin X (a NEW Shōnen title mix with “body horror” genre), and Blue Box (another NEW Shōnen title mix with “romance” and “slice-of-life genre).
These titles are weekly serialized in Shōnen Jump; hence, you cannot legally find them anywhere else unless you read them on official sites (Viz Media, Manga Plus, Shōnen Jump+).
Dandadan (a manga focusing on “body horror” but also promotes a “dystopian society” theme) is another good example because this series is mature. As such, weekly chapter releases must only be digitally (ensuring kids won’t have access to it).
1. Spoilers Avoidance
Get caught up to the latest chapters of your favorite manga to avoid spoilers!
When fans catch up to their favorite mangas digitally, they avoid the risk of spoilers showing up on several social media platforms!
We cannot say the same thing for physical mangas because the latest digital chapters are way ahead of the physical releases. So, fans who are cautious of treading into spoiler territories avoid the Wikia sites of their favorite manga series.
They also block social media accounts of users who rave about the latest chapter releases. Spoiler manga pages can even be seen on the video’s YouTube thumbnails!
If fans continue to avoid spoiler territories, fans who are NEW to the ongoing series may not even run into people who have already read far ahead!
They become blind to theories and discussions of the series’ recent arcs that have been floating around the internet (resulting in greater delight in the series’ plotlines and narratives).
Mangas are graphic novels, Japanese comics, or Japanese cartoons. Most of their art style was developed during 19th century Japan.
However, manga’s historical art has long been known since pre-history or ancient Japan. Around 2007, manga’s influence on American and international markets exponentially grew; henceforth, manga become a mainstreaming medium.