Manga is an expensive hobby in two ways. The first is in the way it consumes hours of your time but I view this as a good thing. I believe a day where all I did was read manga is a day well spent. The second way that manga is expensive is in the price tag. Yes, most manga is hosted online and you can read it for free. But what are you going to do when you want to read manga but you don’t have access to the internet? What if you like having a physical copy? If you think that you have no choice but to buy manga you would be correct in thinking so. Yet there is no need to grimace at the thought of an empty wallet. In part one of this two part series I will explain to you the wonders of used manga, together we will weigh the pros and cons of this idea and I will direct you to reliable ways to buy cheap, cost effective, manga.
Note: The word, “cheap,” has a negative connotation so I will attempt to use the words, “cost effective,” instead.
Although it is possible to buy cost effective new manga in special deals the most cost effective method to buying cost effective manga is to get them used. First, we need to decide if getting used manga is right for you. Let’s start off the the pros. I am sure you have seen numerous books that were in horrendous condition over the course of your life. But you don’t have to worry about buying used manga and products in horrible condition. Have you ever went to a used bookstore and found books in poor condition for sale? No, you have never seen such a thing. Online bookstore are the same way. They won’t sell something consumers don’t want. Better yet, used bookstores also tell you the condition of each book you are looking at, sometimes they even post pictures of them. Used volumes are obviously cheaper than new ones. How much cheaper? Well, using the sites and the methods I will explain later you can get used manga in perfectly good condition (but paper yellowed by age) for roughly four dollars a volume*. We established that the pros are that you don’t have to worry over the quality of the product and the price is but a fraction of its price new.
Now for the cons of buying used manga. Buying used manga does not support the mangaka who wrote the manga. Is this a big deal for some people? Yes, and with reason. Obviously, the mangaka won’t be getting any of the proceeds of the selling of used manga. Thus they will be making less money than if you bought your manga new. The next problem is that shipping takes a long time. Yes, you can get faster shipping if you want but shipping is often expensive (I will explain how to lessen the cost of shipping later). By the time you add the cost of faster shipping you will question if it is even worth it. I will go ahead and tell you that it is not worth it and you should just buy the manga new at a bookstore or online. These are the only two cons that I can think of, and honestly, the pros far out weigh the cons.
At this point I am going to assume you are good with buying used books. There are numerous websites that can sell you used manga. I use Abebooks.com. Why? For three reasons. The first is that they offer a wide range of products since they act as a middle man. If you go on Abebooks you will notice that various stores posted their wares on the site and that Abebooks does not have any products themselves. That is what makes them a middleman. Abebooks is a convenient site where you can order products from multiple stores through a single site. Another reason why I use this site is because of their simple and intuitive format. The most notable aspect of this is seen when you get a list of search results. The results are listed by price from lowest to greatest. But what is special is that they are listed by price of the product and by shipping cost. Thus what Abebooks claims is the cheapest product is in fact the cheapest product, there are no hidden costs. Lastly, Abebooks is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Abebooks is just as safe a site as their parent site, Amazon.com. If you trust Amazon you can trust Abebooks. Abebooks guarantees that every book you buy is in the same condition as it was described as. What more could you ask for in a site? It is safe, reliable, and has a large selection of products.
The next part of the guide will be step by step. I advise you follow my steps so that you can get the gist of the system and learn a method to save time searching for a large number of volumes in a single series.
- Go to Abebooks.com
- Search for the Manga’s name in the title field
- Click find book
- In the “Search Within These Results:” field enter the volume number that you are looking for. Ex: “10”, “34”, “3”
- Control+Left Click (on Windows) or Command+Left Click (on a Mac) the button “Add to Basket” next to the product you wish to buy which will open your shopping cart in a new tab
- Either close this tab or return to the original tab and click the next to the number volume you searched for. What you need to click should look like what I have circled.
- Next you repeat steps 4-6 until you have all the volumes in the series you need.
- Now you can either repeat steps 1-7 for a different series. Please note that we never searched for the manga’s title in the keyword field. Or you can click the “Proceed to Checkout” button at your shopping cart page and follow the instructions to order your items.
Sounds simple right? Well things get more complicated. Although this is will allow you to buy most volumes for cheap there is a way to get things cheaper but this requires some intuitiveness on your part. When you are looking at your search results do not simply pick the cheapest choice. Look at all the reasonable prices on the page keeping note of the seller and the shipping cost. If you see a seller that comes up multiple times buy as much as you can from them. Many sellers will charge less for shipping for every additional item you buy from them. Doing this will make shipping cheaper than if you bought from a large number of sellers. But some sellers don’t do this thus you need to use common sense and be careful when doing this. A good rule of thumb is if you see a seller that offers free shipping and reasonable price for their product buy as much as you can from that seller. Again, use your common sense. A different seller might be selling the product for even cheaper (shipping price included) but might only sell one or two volumes in a series. Do not miss out on good deals such as those. When you are doing this I advise keeping track of which volumes you put in your shopping cart on a sheet of paper because no single provider has every volume in a series, most of them have sporadic collections. This avoids a lot of unnecessary confusion.
Unfortunately, when the manga you are looking is no longer in print, there is high demand for a specific volume, or the volume you are looking for was recently released you will not find any used manga or if you do they will be unreasonably priced. What do you do in this situation? Go looking for new volumes that are on sale or have a discount. For instance, Amazon.com has a 4 for 3 deal for many books. Take advantage of deals such as those to make up for unreasonable priced new volumes.
Another great way to get cost effective manga is to go local bookstores and get discounted manga from there. Big name bookstores tend to shy away from selling their wares cheap. Thus I advise either going to big bookstore that specialize in selling used products or going to smaller more local bookstores. Book Off, which is a Japanese used-bookstore chain, offers great deals on their manga with bundles for new manga and extremely cheap used manga.
If you follow my advice you should be in the same position where I am. I am at the point where I don’t buy manga for over five dollars per volume when I go to bookstores because I know I can find the same volume cheaper somewhere online. I honestly hope this guide will help you in your pursuit of manga as a hobby. If you have any questions or have tips for me I would be glad to hear them, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, go and enjoy cost effective manga like every hobbyist should!
*I was able to find the entire Lone Wolf and Cub series for roughly four dollars a volume. Some volumes were more expensive than others and some volumes were cheaper than others but that is just how the market is. I also base my average from what I remember when I bought the entire Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation series and the other countless number of volumes I looked up but never end up buying for various reasons.