I am a person who really enjoys physical manga over digital manga. Maybe a bit too much. There’s just something magical about getting my hands on a brand new manga with those beautiful colourful covers. Running my hands along the printed pages and marvelling at them as they line my bookshelves. I think a lot of you are like me. There’s nothing wrong with reading manga on your tablet or phone but it’s just not the same.

Ok, so full disclosure, this list is mainly intended to convince me to read digital manga rather than any of you. I have been meaning to make the switch for a while now but I just can’t seem to shake the habit of collecting manga. So I’m writing down a list of all those good and wonderful reasons to switch to digital manga. Here we go!

breathtaking picture from Shiomachi Kona 

5. Space

A tiny phone or tablet can hold millions of titles. Countless libraries that can fit in your pocket. And you may think that doesn’t count for much but you’ll be surprised how quickly bookcases get filled once you get started. And even if you are willing and able to buy new furniture on a regular basis you need an actual place to put it.

I’m lucky enough to have a place that is more or less littered with bookcases so I still have some shelves I can give up for the cause. However, once I get filled up, I’m either going to have to move or build an extension. And that is quite a commitment.

4. Portability

This is tied with my previous point (and these are my weakest points by the way so don’t give up on this list), but there are times when you might want to read manga outside. Like on the bus or subway and yeah, you could just throw the manga in your bag, if you have the space for it. But well, you don’t always want to carry a bag.

But I do. I always carry a bag. A huge one at that. But I still hate risking my manga getting creased or the corners getting worn because it’s rumbling around with all my stuff. I bring my phone everywhere anyway and I keep it protected. The manga on there will never get damaged in any way!

you try to illustrate variety…

3. Variety and Availability

This is a major reason to go digital and it should be enough all by itself. The fact is, there is more manga available in digital format. First of all, it means that thousands of volumes are at your fingertips at any given time, you don’t have to go out and buy them or wait weeks for them to get delivered. That is if you even find the physical manga. There are a few series that I really want to read but they had been out of print for a while I literally cannot find physical copies but I can get the full series digitally any time.

Moreover, there is so much manga out there but very little makes it to Quebec. This isn’t a big deal, the internet exists and I can order most things, as long as I know they exist. Browsing virtual manga makes it much easier to discover new titles or try things I would not have otherwise. Digital manga leads to much greater diversity in my reading habits.

maybe we can come to an…understanding

2. Price

I don’t know about where you are, but around here with taxes and all a single volume is usually between 12 and 20 bucks. So you know, something with 40 volumes or so will set you back between $500 and $800. That’s an impressive investment. Especially when you’re reading a dozen series at any given time. Digital copies are half price and Amazon often has free volumes 1 and 2 of popular manga for promotional purposes.

and just as an example, my digital shonen jump subscription gives me access to a huge archive of digital manga for 2 dollars a month. Technically, those mangas aren’t mine per se and if I cancel my subscription I will lose my access but in practice, it means that those 2 dollars give me more manga than I could afford. Crunchyroll also has a free library of manga with every subscription although the navigation isn’t all that great. In short, digital is so much cheaper than manga that it’s hardly worth comparing.

early – as in morning…

1. Early release

I’m an impatient girl s for me the number one reason that would push me to pick up the digital version over the physical one is publishing timelines. Digital releases are usually available a few months before the physical release and that’s when volumes are in place. For stuff I’m reading chapter by chapter in Jump, for example, there are series that are dozens of chapters in but have not yet been collected in volumes at all so I can read them occasionally years ahead if I go through digital.

In the end, when you are deeply involved in a manga and you get to the end of the last available chapter it’s torture no matter what. But if I can wait a week instead of a month, I’m gonna jump on it.

See all those great reasons? I really should be reading manga digitally. And I didn’t even get into sustainability and ecological reasons which are super important to me. What am I doing? Why did writing this post make me want to put in an order for a huge box of paper manga? What is wrong with me? Don’t answer that last one.

Instead, let me know if you read manga mostly digitally or paper and which do you prefer. Also why?

31 thoughts

  1. Both digital and physical have their perks. It’s always exciting to get a parcel of physical manga or a library haul of something you’ve wanted to finish for a while (assuming you remember the plot still… *sweatdrop*), but it’s also fun to just carve out a few hours (if you have the luxury to) and just power through chapters of a digital manga.

    To go off what Aaron said, it helps as a translator to compare raw versions with official translations (sometimes you have multiple, as it was when I blogged about Kaiju No. 8), observe where the letterer did their magic (occasionally there is a white squiggle where there shouldn’t be) or spot what the editor missed.

    1. It is a great luxury that we have easy access to multiple versions like that. I only have a few actual JP paper versions most of the raws I see are online so they have already been retouched unless it’s a Pixiv comic

  2. I got tired of reading digital manga after 2 years. So, yesterday, I borrowed 11 volumes of Horimiya and Death Note (two manga series I have been putting on hiatus for over a year now!)

    I started reading these series digitally, but kept on postponing them and never get to finish them (was always stuck midway) because I am jumping to other new manga series.

    So, I made a commitment to borrow only a manga series from the library so I can finish reading them or re-reading them once and for all.

    The only gripe I have with physical manga is that the chapter covers are black-and-white, whereas, sometimes, in fan translations, they’re colored! Bummer.

    That’s why, whenever I read, I have the physical volumes (the ones I borrowed from the library) and my desktop ready so I can compare the translations between the physical volumes and the digital fan translations.

    I do read free chapters from Viz Media, but only for the series that are my favorites and ones I’m up-to-date (example is an ongoing series like My Here Academia).

  3. I’m definitely a paper guy first and foremost, but I do think a big incentive is being able to read things quicker. Usually I go through these questions. “Is it licensed?” If not, I jump straight to digital. “Does my state library system have it?” If yes, then I’ll just reserve the book. It can be tough waiting sometimes weeks but unless it’s something I just need to read right away I’ll wait. If not, then online too.

    A quick exception to this is anything Shonen Jump related. I just read those on the Viz site immediately since I can’t wait for those volume releases

    1. Viz’s online platform is actually pretty great. I wish more distributors would invest in that.

  4. I prefer to save some trees and declutter a bit. I already have more books than I’ll be able to read in my lifetime it seems

  5. I have to agree, reading in digital is a lot better. Since I lie in a country where mangas aren’t that popular, it’s hard to get them and moreover they’re really expensive since it’s from overseas. Even though I prefer digital, I would love to have a physical copy so that I can hold it as a special memory.

  6. I just love the tactile feel and portability of hard copies. I can read digital manga, and will if I have to, but prefer physical copies. Of course, I can afford them, too 🙂

  7. Basically the same arguments/benefits of all digital media. Which, though I will always *prefer* physical copies of my own, I must admit are pretty substantial.

    1. I have zero issue with not buying physical anime. That doesn’t appeal to me at all. But manga and books in general, I have a weird addiction to

  8. I’m so glad physical is booming. I know digital is usually cheaper (and less annoying about having to deal with space!), but I love having my things in hand versus a digital version.

    Ideally, I wish books could be like Blu-ray movies or how Amazon has the Autorip for most music in which you get a free digital version with the purchase of a physical. That would be amazing.

  9. I think it’s easier to pick up a digital manga. When I read physical manga (which I do for a couple of running series) I always feel like I have to read the entire volume at once. When reading digitally I can pick it up for a chapter and then put it away again (or read for two hours straight).

    When I was still teaching earlier this year (I miss leaving the house) before my internship ended I read a lot on the train and bus. Mainly webtoons like Tower of God and God of Highschool (I highly recommend both by the way). It just felt easier to read digitally in that case. You already have your phone on you wherever you go (at least I assume most people do) and you can quickly put it away when you need to move to the next train. I feel like I get more reading done when I’m reading digitally.

    Having said that, nothing beats sitting outside in spring/summer with a nice cup of coffee and manga volume. So (as I think is true with most things in life) a bit of both is probably what I prefer. Some physical manga to collect, and then the rest digitally for convenience/lack of money.

    1. Huh, I think I’m actually the opposite. I’ve lost my page at digital manga a few times and I feel like I just want to finish it so I don’t have to keep a tab or something but I have no issue sticking a bookmark in a book.
      It’s interesting how different reading habits can affect our appreciation of the medium.

  10. I prefer the physical version, however, since I can’t afford to spend that much money and SPACE, I read the digital one. I still buy the physical thing of those mangas I particularly like, though! 🙆‍♀️💖

  11. I find it easier for me to read manga digitally because otherwise I zoom through it without feeling too guilty about it I guess? I have purchased some manga and read each volume in about 10 minutes in the past and it feels like a waste to me in some ways. I don’t have that problem as much with digital. I have also been reading slower so I can take chapters in more, but that isn’t a digital thing by itself…

  12. I think digital is more practical in most cases. Same for any type of book, movie, even video game, but I just have a hard time getting behind it. I love the collection aspect of it, and I absolutely cannot get the same experience reading a book on my phone than holding it in my hands. Maybe it’s all in my head, but it just doesn’t feel the same. Even if it isn’t the best, physical is where my heart is.

    1. I do love seeing shelves brimming with books. There’s somehting comforting and joyful about it

  13. One other advantage to digital manga over physical manga is when you are studying manga to create manga. It’s the ability to zoom into frames and witness every line, every tone, and every possible “imperfections” that the manga-ka may have felt insecure about, but included anyway, as a deadline had to be met. There is something very human about finding them, and exciting at the same time. It can make creators more fearless of their mistakes and get back to enjoying the creative process.

    1. I hadn’t even thought of that but it’s an excellent point. even for those that don’t draw manga

Leave me a comment and make my day!