Today, I’ll discuss some ways to afford to feed your manga addiction while sparing your poor pocket book. If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear them! My ideas are targeted toward U.S. residents, so international visitors, feel free to share your favorite ways to supporting the manga market!
Free Digital Manga
Crunchyroll offers the latest chapters of several titles free. This includes popular titles like The Seven Deadly Sins and Attack on Titan. Chapters are published the same day as the Japanese issues go on sale.
Viz Media is currently offering chapters of Boys Over Flowers Season 2 for free. It’s also a simu-pub.
Manga Box offers free manga chapters for various series such as High School Ninja Girl, Otonashi-san and Shion of the Dead. You can read quite a few back chapters, too.
All three have associated apps allowing for reading on a computer or mobile device. Want more titles? Read these ones so that companies will want to keep releasing simu-pubs.
New Physical Manga
Right Stuf offers most manga at 25% off everyday, and 33% off during a studio sale. For $12 a year, you can get an additional 10% off most items, which means you can get print volumes for about 40% off. This is often cheaper than digital volumes! Right Stuf also has weekly specials with random volumes often being 50% off. Furthermore, during the holidays (and occasionally throughout the year), Right Stuf offers some manga bundles. I believe they have gone as high as 65% off for a complete series or 75% for one volume series. They’ve offered old Tokyopop titles and current series like a Kamisama Kiss bundle around Valentine’s day. Shipping is free on US $49+ or $250+ for Canada.
Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, Half Price Books, and other bookstores often have coupons available. Some coupons will be off a total-purchase ($5 off $25), and others will be a percent-off a single item (30% one book). Stores will also do promotions like 2 for the price of 3. Sign up for emails to get access to the latest sales information and coupons. If you have a local physical store, you can avoid the shipping and handling charges, and sometimes the coupon values are higher than Internet coupons.
Amazon prices have been hovering about 10% off lately, but I have seen titles go over 50% off, such as when Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon was being released. Pricing can be completely random: one volume can be 35% off while the previous volume is only 10%. Once in a while, usually around the holidays, they have released coupons like $5 off of $25 or 30% off one book. Use Camel Camel Camel or its associated Firefox/Chrome extensions to set up price alerts and see what the lowest price has been. Also, if you do see a cheaper price somewhere, use Amazon’s “Tell us about a lower price” button and submit the price. Encourage others to do so as well to increase the likelihood they’ll drop the price. Shipping is free with Prime ($99/year) or $35+. International customers will want to check their version of Amazon.
Places like Walmart and Target occasionally have some of the more popular series in store. They have a larger selection online at various prices. Walmart has free store pickup or free shipping on $50. Target has free shipping with their credit card (Red Card) or $25 purchase. Both brick and mortar stores will pricematch sites like Amazon, and Walmart.com will also pricematch if you contact them.
Rakuten offers many manga at about 36-37% off. They’ve also done coupon promotions ($10 off $30 with Visa Checkout, $5 off $50 purchase) and bonus/free points ($5 free points, spend $100 get $10 back). You can get free shipping on $40 in the books, music, and movies categories. They also will try to pricematch other online retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
Also consider book outlet and warehouse sites like Book Outlet and Bargain Book Shop. They are technically new, but they typically have marks (black line on bottom book) to indicate they’re overstock. It doesn’t affect the readability. Some manga can be found for about $3 to $4 a volume; this can be lowered with coupons. Many titles are out of print.
Sometimes, the best strategy is to wait. Many popular titles get released as omnibuses. Some omnibuses include bonus features like color pages, but, more importantly, you can get two volumes for about $15 MSRP or three for $20. With discounts at various stores, you can drive this price lower. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee a series will get a rerelease, and some omnibuses have been canceled mid-series. Waiting too long may also make a series (or at least individual volumes) go out-of-print. Then sellers will hike the price well beyond MSRP.
Along this same line, Viz Media has released boxed versions where they offer a complete series in a special box. They’re usually not offered at a huge discount (only about 10% off individual volumes MSRP), but you get a box and usually a bonus (mini artbook, stationary, etc.). Combine this with discounts at other stores to get it cheaper.
If you don’t always need to have the latest series or have to have everything brand new, buying used is a great way to save money. The downside is that the secondary market does not directly support the companies or creators.
While prices can vary wildly, if there’s a series you’re interested in, you can sometimes get a really good deal on eBay. Sellers will often put various volumes in a lot, making these sets dirt cheap compared to buying a complete set. It could be a good way to test a bunch of series. Full series (or nearly-complete or all current volumes) in a lot are significantly higher. Individual volumes are usually a rip-off because of shipping charges and the seller trying to recoup eBay fees. I recommend not paying more than 50% of list price with shipping factored in for used, unless it’s an out of print title. Out of print title prices can vary from as low as $1-$2 a volume all the way up to its list price of $10, and sometimes higher! The popularity of the series, number of copies printed, and what the publisher does with unsold stock all play into the selling price. Make sure you check sold listings in order to see the average selling price and factor in shipping, condition, and seller reputation. You can also earn eBay bucks on every purchase. Once in a while, eBay will send out special offers. Lately it’s mostly been earn 2-5x eBay bucks, but they send out 10% off one item or similar coupons occasionally. Note that eBay coupons are seemingly sent out randomly. Some people seem to get coupons all the time, and others hardly ever.
Go Hastings also has a big selection of used manga. They have had coupons up to 50% off their used price, but I haven’t seen one that high in a long time. I saw (and posted about) a 41% off coupon, however. With shipping included, you can get manga for up to 75% off retail. Prices can vary in a series; one can be listed at $4 and a other at $6. All the used titles are in readable condition, but the older the title, the less likely it is to be pristine. Most of my titles have been in very good condition, but some are just good and show clear signs of use. As long as you don’t care about perfection, for the price, it’s a good deal. Be aware that books may be out of stock after you order.
Other secondhand marketplaces include Half, Better World Books, and Amazon Marketplace. Again, prices can vary wildly. Even the same seller on these used marketplaces can charge different prices due to fees. Half hasn’t done any new coupons outside of new customer recently, but Better World Books often has promotions like 50% off select titles. Compare and search the web for coupons.
Digital volumes retail for less (usually around $6). You can get instant access to titles, and, in some cases, read the volumes before the print versions are available. Digital sales can also provide a way to get some out of print series. Other titles are only being released in digital versions.
Viz Media has their own catalog but has also been adding many out-of-print Tokyopop titles. First chapters of series are available to read for free. They have offered digital bundles, such as selling the first 10 volumes of NANA for $20.
Most of the other US publishers have many of their titles available on various e-book platforms: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, and iBooks. The first two are available on both computer and mobile devices. Again, watch for sales and promotions.
Digital-only sites include Renta and eManga. Note that some niche titles at eManga can cost $15 to $20. They have released coupons for 40% off all titles. For Renta, they use a ticket system. You can get bonus tickets for purchasing ticket bundles.
If you want to read the older chapters of Crunchyroll titles, for $7 a month you get access to all their manga plus anime and drama. You also get perks like early access to anime (simu-cast), mobile/console streaming, and discounts at their store.
Amazon’s Kindle store offers manga volumes for as low as $3 a volume, and I’ve seen digital omnibuses for around $15 for seven volumes. But they also have Kindle Unlimited: for $10 a month, they offer a wide range of books and audiobooks, and you can read as many of them as you want each month. They offer a 30 day free trial.