Reading Manga: Books or Online?



Free doesn’t have to = pirated
There are so many legal free books and mangas in my library cause 1st manga was offered for free, in hopes you will buy the next as well as other similar promos :wink:


As others said, if it is for free, make sure to make it so it’s not pirated, like Bookwalker and such.

Also, 4 a month for physical isn’t terrible considering shipping costs, but I know kinokuniya has free shipping for orders over 50 dollars (and manga is a bit cheaper than 10 dollars for members) so if that is your primary concern you can beat the price for sure, if the specific number of manga isn’t your primary concern.

I think what set @DaisukeJigen off here was the key word "many, " since their are only a few sites where you can do so legally while having a US address.


okay I’ll try this site and the one @slerched mentioned. I honestly think I’ll just go with physical copies. it’s more engaging I think. thank you!


right probably not “many” :joy:

Before buying a lot of manga, I think a few questions to consider are:

  1. How much grammar do you know?
  2. How easily (quickly) do you pick up/understand new grammar you learn?
  3. Roughly how many vocabulary words do you know?

If you are on the lower end of the grammar knowledge spectrum, and you want to start reading manga, I recommend buying a copy of Japanese the Manga Way, and reading through it first. It lightly teaches a lot of the most common grammar you’ll encounter when reading manga. It uses panels from actual manga, with full breakdowns of the dialogue, to show the grammar in action.

From there, I’d recommend looking into getting a manga that has been read (or is being read) in the Absolute Beginner Book Club. That gives you a wealth of grammar and knowledge targeted to a specific manga volume in the form of weekly discussion threads. And if you have any questions not already asked, you ask in the appropriate thread, even if it’s been over a year since the book club completed reading the manga.

At that point, once you have had exposure to the most common grammar you’re likely to encounter, and you’ve worked your way through one whole manga volume, beginning to end, you’ll be in a good place to decide what pace you want to go from there.

As for vocabulary, the fewer words you know, the more you’ll have to look up, and the longer it will take to get through each volume of manga.

If Box of Manga auto-bills monthly (I assume so as they refer to their service as a monthly subscription), then you could be in danger of getting more manga (over time) than you’re going to be able to read any time soon. If you can afford it, and if you’ll keep learning Japanese, this isn’t the worst problem in the world.


thank you for the detailed post !! I actually already started on Japanese the Manga Way. So I think I’ll go from there to the book clubs.

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I’ve been enjoying reading on my Kobo Forma ereader


eBookJapan, Amazon, BookWalker, pixiv, official sites for manga like Tzurezure Children, OPM, maybe even Jump…

I’m sure there’s more.


I would say online. I got some physical manga for Christmas and I have to say the printing is so tiny is a bit difficult to recognize the kanji sometimes. If you read on a PC, it’s going to be easier to read and to use tools like dictionary.

I know Firefox has a extension specially to help reading manga in Japanese, but I have never used it.

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I only read online. Many people suggested you try to read as soon as you can. I both agree and disagree with that statement. I agree that if you find what you like you will be able to enjoy it no matter how many times you translate/skip over stuff. Otherwise it will be a chore. Either way i would recommend having basic foundation of grammar. Other than that you can go around it. (Kanji furigana, vocabulary-dictionary etc…)

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I like tables, so here’s one:


Pros Cons
instant access (you don’t have to wait for shipping) can’t resell
zoom (for when furigana is suuuuper small) if you end up not liking something, it’s stuck on your account
portable (your whole collection is accessible through a phone) you’re technically paying for the right to access it on a site (not actually owning a copy)
images stay crisp


Pros Cons
you own the copy you buy yellows/wears/can get destroyed
can resell some kanji look like Rorschach tests (hard to distinguish)
time away from a screen takes up space which add up the more you own
physical comes with extra stuff in it sometimes, even used copies (in my last order of used manga, I found a bookmark and in another volume, a poster) constantly have to bookmark and put down the book when looking up unfamiliar words (which can get annoying)
manga collections look really nice displayed on a shelf (esp. if you add decorations like acrylic stands, figures,etc.)

I’d say financially it’s cheaper to buy used physical in bulk because the total cost per volume after factoring in shipping is still really cheap depending on the series you buy. And then there’s the added benefit of being able to resell.

Also, I’d advocate for buying series you want to read as opposed to stuff at your level. I bought しろくまカフェ and ended up reselling it without getting past the second volume. I could not force myself through it (and I tried). On the other hand, I just read the first volume of a historical fantasy manga and it was really tough to get through, but I did it cause I actually wanted to read it.


I’ve been wanting to get some of these for a while now. Didn’t know what they were called, making it hard to look them up. Thank you!

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I really appreciate this comment, for the tables and also because I too, bought しろくまカフェ and for the life of me am not interested in it at all. It still sits on my shelf though, haha…

I have lots of manga translated into English, but I just started recently browsing through the local secondhand shops for bundle packs of series and I’m really afraid I might buy too much and have a hard time sending it back home haha…

I’m also a physical copy supporter, but digital seems so eco-friendly (but isn’t buying secondhand pretty ecofriendly too? :slight_smile: )


by basic grammar do you mean n5 level?

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this was really helpful. exactly what I was looking for. i totally agree with you on the “time away from screen” part. thank you :grin: :grin:

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N5 grammar is pretty much the minimum to feel like you can keep your head above water when reading an easier manga. You’ll still be looking up a lot of grammar. Once you make your way halfway through N4, the amount of grammar you have to look up feels a bit more manageable. (That is, until you get to more difficult manga.)

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A lot of people have already answered you, but personally I have come around to online reading in Japanese. I used to really only read physical Japanese books since that was the only way I knew how to get them (shopping at kinokuniya) I recently started using Bookwalker which has been great because it has a built in dictionary. The dictionary isn’t perfect but at n3-ish, it’s practically impossible for me to read a light novel without a dictionary.

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I just want to add that you can always pause/cancel your subscription on box of manga if you feel overwhelmed with the amount you get. For me it was a great way to get into japanese manga and getting something shipped from Japan (to Germany) for the first time. I used the service for 2 months and now I order the specifics I want to read “manually”.

I can second every comment here on the grammar parts. I’m in between N5/N4 and I still struggle, nevertheless it’s fun and I like it :slight_smile: Always happy with every sentence/block I understand even if I have look up the rest quite frequently.
I can also reaaaally recommend the book club if your series is featured there. The vocab-sheets are a gift from heaven as a beginner.


N5 to N4ish . I am still N4 in grammar

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