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So You Want to Be a Manga Collector?

A simple manga buying and collecting guide


(NOTE: I am based in the USA so this is a USA-centric outlook and guide, but many of these tips can be applied to those residing outside the USA!)


shelf of assorted manga
Look at all this manga!

Alright, manga collecting isn't rocket science. It takes a few simple steps, and they are:

  1. Find and choose a manga to buy.

  2. Buy the manga.

  3. Congrats you're now a manga collector! Read and enjoy your manga with pride!

Whether you have 1 manga or 1000s, you're now a manga collector, and if anyone tells you anything different, tell that person to go touch grass. The point of buying manga, nay books, is that you will read them and enjoy them for years to come. Manga is not an investment. (Don't let the ridiculous out-of-print and out-of-stock prices fool you.) If your collection does not "spark joy," then you should yeet or purge manga from your shelves. With that out of the way, let's get to some nuts and bolts.


Step #1 - Finding & Choosing a Manga to Buy


Finding a manga is easier now more than ever. You can simply walk into the nearest big box bookstore and browse the aisles. You can watch mangatubers. You can watch unboxing and review videos. You can check out blogs (like *ahem* this one). You can check out Goodreads, Amazon, and other reviews to see what people think. (Pro Tip: There is an art in teasing out reviews to see whether a book is good for you. Look for keywords, repeated sentiments, and the like. You see people emphasizing content you know that's gonna trigger you, then stay away from it.) Check out what people are reading and collecting on social media. Look at what's on each publisher's release calendar for the month, and check out their socials. Ask your otaku friends and family. Go to panels at anime cons. Read the manga of your favorite anime. Check out the most popular manga on MyAnimeList or Anilist. Search anime and manga related databases like for recs. Finally, there's always brute forcing your way to a decent rec through a Google search.


Google.com search "good manga to read" and the predictive text that pops up
Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?

My point is that finding manga, any manga, to read is easier now more than ever, and there's so much "good" or "decent" manga out there to read, collect, and enjoy. Just because a manga doesn't have reviews or "nobody" is talking about it, doesn't mean that the manga isn't good or, more importantly, that you won't enjoy it. If a manga doesn't have a review, be that person to discover it and sing its praises. That latter part is why I started a manga blog in the first place. It feels good to see a manga you enjoyed and reviewed gain steam.


My amazon review of Boss Wife v. 1
An Amazon review by yours truly. Guess the manga.

Okay, finding a manga may be easier now more than ever, but buying a manga certainly isn't.

"What manga should I buy?" is a common (and annoying) question. You can find it across social media and forums. I get it. You only have so much money to spend and you want to know if the manga you're buying is "worth it." Well, here's the thing. Only you can determine if you like the manga or not, and the only way to do that is to read it. Thanks to the numerous subscription services out there and perhaps visiting your local library (online and off), you can read more manga now than ever. Read first, buy later if you wish to save money. But, how can you choose? Easy. To choose a manga to read and buy, ask yourself these questions:

  • What genres do I enjoy?

  • What themes do I enjoy?

  • What am I in the #mood for?

Let's talk genre. I know manga (and anime) can be weird, but they have the same genres as literally every other medium on the planet. Here's a list to get your brain going: western, historical, drama, comedy, romance, sci-fi, action, adventure, fantasy, slice-of-life, horror, mystery, etc. You can narrow it down further to romcom or isekai. Once you got your genre(s) selected, you can think about themes.


What themes do you enjoy? Or, put more simply, what is the main idea or underlying meaning that pulls you in to a particular story? There's music, food & drink, coming-of-age, lgbtq+, sports, revenge, kaiju, forbidden love, etc. Ever pick up a random book off the shelf, flip it over to read the synopsis on the back, and go, "Yo! That's my jam!"? Yeah, I'm asking you to do that. Take a chance, and roll the dice. You know what you like. You may strike out, even on the surefire popular stuff out there. It happens. To mitigate that, refer to the reviews and list of stuff above to see if it's worth it to you. Worst case scenario is that you return your book to the store or resell the book. No big deal.


Finally, what are you in the mood for? I think mood is important. It can be the reason you start, drop, or finish a series. I'm not always in the mood for horror, but I can be when fall and Halloween roll around. So, what are you in the mood to read?


Now that you have found and chose a manga to read, it's time to move on to step 2.


Step #2 - Buy the Manga


There are plenty of stores that sell manga. While not a comprehensive list, below is a list of stores from where you can buy new and used physical manga.


Big Box Stores

  • Amazon

  • Barnes & Noble

  • Books-a-Million

  • Target (limited selection)

  • Walmart (limited selection)


Manga in English, Japanese, and other languages

  • Book Depository (based in the UK; ships to the USA and multiple countries)

  • Book/Off

  • Kinokuniya


Discount New/Used Manga

  • Better World Books

  • Bookoutlet

  • Goodwill/Goodwill Auctions

  • Half-Price Bookstore

  • Instocktrades

  • Thrift Books


Anime/Manga exclusive stores

  • At anime conventions

  • CheapManga.com

  • Directly from the publisher (ex: Glacier Bay Books, Juné, etc.)

  • RightStuf Anime

  • Robert's Anime Corner Store (despite the 90s-looking website, it is a legitimate online retailer)


Local and independent book and comic stores

  • Bookshop.org

  • Comicshoplocator.com

  • Local stores in your area

  • Powell's Books


Non-Retailers

Proceed with caution when buying from non-retailers on these platforms. Personally, I think these should be the last resort when looking for new or used manga.

  • Ebay

  • Facebook Market Place

  • Craig's List

  • Mercari

  • Offer Up

  • Reddit (r/mangaswap)


Buying manga new can be expensive, especially if it's a long series, but there are ways to minimize costs. You can buy used or ex-library books. Shop at discount stores or buy only during a sale. Pre-order your books. Price aggregators like Honey and Camel, Camel, Camel can help you find the best price. Broke Otaku is great for looking at anime/manga prices. There are quite a few Twitter accounts devoted to notifying you of deals and restocks too. Basically, shop around. Be patient, and be prepared to sign-up for alerts and e-newsletters. Don't over spend! Budget your money. I'll write more posts about saving money buying manga later, but this will get you started for now.



Now, note that the above list is for physical manga. What if you want to buy manga digitally? If you're buying digitally, the list of stores to buy from is much, much shorter. Each store has its quirks, pros, and cons, but the main thing to keep in mind is that buying digital manga is dependent on your device. In other words, it's dependent on how you want to read your manga.


Digital Manga Stores

  • Amazon Comixology & Kindle

  • Apple Books

  • Book Walker

  • Directly from the publisher (ex: Glacier Bay Books, Juné, Star Fruit Books, etc.)

  • Fanatical (randomly; sales are dictated by the publisher)

  • Google Play

  • Humble Bundle (randomly; sales are dictated by the publisher)

  • Izneo

  • Kobo (owned by Rakuten)

  • My Anime List

  • Nook (owned by Barnes & Noble)


Unlike their physical counterparts, sales at digital stores are dictated by the publisher not the stores. Follow the publisher across social media and subscribe to their newsletters to stay on top of sales. VIZ and Kodansha have randomized weekly sales. Most e-books are half the cover price of physical manga, but there are exceptions. Kodansha's e-book prices are high, just two dollars or so short of the cover price so the weekly sales (and occasional Humble Bundle deal) offsets that. Remember to spend wisely and budget your money! I'll go into more depth later about collecting digitally, but this will do for now.


So, now that you know where to buy manga from, all you have to do is go forth and do it, which leads us to the final step...


Step #3 - Enjoy Your Manga


You found and bought some manga. Now, it's time to enjoy your spoils. You don't have to read your manga as soon as you get home, but you should plan to read your books, sometime before the Climate Wars. (Before you're forced to burn them for heat.) When you're not reading your manga, store them in a safe place out of the sun. You can store them on a bookshelf. The popular go-to is Ikea's Billy Bookcase line. Personally, I rock the Ikea Gersby shelf, a Target cubbyhole, and a thrifted seahorse cabinet. (You can learn more about my shelves and see more of my collection in this post.)


a closed 3-tiered white seahorse cabinet with a Yuri On Ice keychain hanging off the handle. The keychain shows Victor and Yuri as chibi mermen, and they are hugging each other.
Behold, the yaoi cabinet!

You don't have to store your manga on a bookshelf, but that's like, the default. Some people store their manga on floating shelves or shelf trees. Others go full library and store their books on carts. You can be the oddball that stores your manga in drawers or in plastic boxes to slide under the bed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Here are some posts from Instagram to get your creative juices flowing.


The Inspiration





To wrap-up on book storage, just do you. Whatever floats your boat and fits your space. As long as you keep your books safe from dust, dirt, and the sun, you're good. There are plenty of affordable shelving options. Here's a short list of where you can buy your shelves (or other book storage stuffs) besides Ikea.


The List

  • Amazon

  • Big Lots

  • Department stores (ex: JC Penny, Macy's, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx Homegoods, etc.)

  • Furniture stores (ex: Ashley, Overstock, Wayfair)

  • Flea markets

  • Hardware & home improvement stores (ex: Home Depot, Lowe's, etc.)

  • Office supply stores (ex: Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, etc.)

  • Pick it up from the curb or from side of the road

  • Second-hand stores (ex: Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.)

  • Target

  • Walmart


If you don't like what's out there, you can always build your own bookshelf. Just stay away from "media" shelves. Those hold cd's, videogames, and blu-rays/dvds. You'll need to find shelves that can hold some weight. Got it? Good.


Conclusion


Alright, now you've found and bought your manga. You took it home to enjoy it, to read it, and when you're done, you store your manga someplace safe. That's it. You're a collector now. Rinse and repeat the steps until you no longer want to collect manga or you die, whichever comes first.



Now, go start your manga journey, and share your spoils with me in the comments below or on Twitter or Instagram at @ThatMangaHunter.



Happy travels!



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