Note: This post is undergoing a revamp and the update will better reflect the current ebook market once completed.
I used to buy physical copies from Kinokuniya (they had a one to two-week waiting period for out-of-stock titles and that my twin and I pretty much ran out of physical space) but now, you can simply buy the e-book right from the Internet, wherever you are.
Some sites might give away extras like points or digital signed illustrations and occasionally the chance to participate in their raffles to get an actual signed illustration (サイン入り色紙). But you still have to have a Japanese address to receive it, haha.
Note: This post only covers what I’ve looked up as well as from personal use. If I’ve left anything out, let me know. Not an exhaustive list.
PC, iOS and Android.
Some titles has unlimited access while some has expiry dates; both are differently priced. It’s stated in their terms and conditions that overseas users are not allowed to use their service, even still, it’s accessible.
PC and iOS. Android version is limited to Japanese-made devices.
Their webstore is an alternative for those who don’t have Kinokuniya to buy physical copies. I like how they show availability for physical items.
eBook services are meant to serve users in Japan so those outside the region aren’t qualified for customer support. See this post for more information.
Internet browsers, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Windows phone.
Payment via credit/debit card and WebMoney. Has a wide variety of availability for different operating systems and it’s very easy to browse and read the samples, especially on smartphones/tablets. Overseas users shouldn’t have a problem purchasing from them unless it’s a problem with your bank for overseas transactions. eBookJapan not only has manga but also various genres of Japanese publications. It’s become my go-to app to buy manga and browse for new titles.
eBookJapan has merged with Yahoo! Bookstore (Japan) and at time of this update, isn’t very receptive to users outside Japan, unlike its previous incarnation. – March 28, 2019
iOS and Mac (OSX 10.9 and up)
iOS – Available on iTunes (set to the Japanese region), the viewer is also satisfactory. Purchases are done in-app.
Mac – Readers with iBooks on MacOS can send in their thoughts!
Some rated titles might not be available on iBooks due to restrictions by Apple.
Thanks to Anny for telling me about iBooks on Mac!
iOS and Android. Must have Japanese iTunes/GooglePlay account. Purchases made are in-app with LINE coins.
The viewer it a little troublesome because when you are in free-scroll mode, you can’t turn to the next page without exiting the free-scroll mode orz
I mentioned previously how their viewer ‘fills’ the page and it seems like this has been fixed. The down-side is that there’s a minimum purchase for LINE coins and that’s not very buyer-friendly (especially when I only wanted a 108 coin one-shot xD). There’s also an expiry date for the coins you’ve purchased.
They also have free serialisations. Talk about competition! xD
Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
Some titles might not be available for overseas users. Payment methods include PayPal and WebMoney. Being able to pay via PayPal might be an attractive feature for some.
I think the iOS app detects your location because I couldn’t find any titles from major Japanese publishers (Shueisha, Shogakukan and Hakusensha) despite downloading it from the Japanese AppStore.
But purchasing from their website might work?
(August 18, 2017) My twin purchased a few books from BookWalker Global (their international ebook store retailing English releases) and it shows that BookWalker’s ebooks are significantly higher resolution than eBookJapan. She zoomed in at 200% but it isn’t grainy yet. I am still trying to confirm this but it will take some time.
Dokusho no Ojikan
iOS and Android (smartphone browsers).
Service provided by Ameba/CyberAgent, Inc. Payment is made with ‘coins’ and can be bought with WebMoney or exchanged with Ameba DotMoney.
There are options to customise the viewer. Also has free serialisations which you can subscribe to. I felt the viewer wasn’t very user-friendly but their free serialisations is a nice perk.
Straight from the publishers
There are also free serialisations that you can read on the app (similar to
HanaLaLa Online LINE Manga, MangaPark). The viewer is also satisfactory, I find no trouble with it but only to ask for the pages to be provided at slightly higher-resolution ww
PC browser, Windows, iOS and Android
I used WebMoney, making it a little costlier to buy from them. Sometimes there are lotteries/raffles to get limited stuff or additional points that you can use at their site. It’s also possible to buy using a foreign credit or debit card. Occasionally releases before other retailers. Also releases Shueisha’s shoujo and josei titles.
Their e-reader app is also revamped (iOS, Android and Windows) and you can now buy books right from your smartphone!
Their iOS viewer is book-in-the-box and in order to read them, you have to login to Hakusensha e-net! on your smartphone browser, then link it back to the app in order to get them on the viewer. It’s a very good viewer, has options to customise the viewer and is really comfortable to read with. The downside that it might come across as troublesome. The PC browser viewer is, however, always a viable option. I wish Hakusensha releases an app like Margaret Bookstore’s *__*
Shogakukan releases at Sokuyomi
Shogakukan-dedicated Sokuyomi site. Shogakukan has their releases handed to various digital retailers so they are widely available (i.e., eBookJapan, honto).
You can check your device availability against each retailer here. They have a smartphone counterpart called Comic Shogakukan Book (read below).
Comic Shogakukan Book
PC, iOS and Android.
Mainly for smartphones. Has a dedicated viewer for Android devices but if you access the site via iOS or PC, you can only stream your content through your smartphone browsers.
Payment methods also include Rakuten, WebMoney and BitCash. There are different charges, monthly or pay-as-you-read, one thing that I find interesting from the rest is that certain one-shots are also available. That’ll be useful when finding one-shots that you missed from the magazine issues or those has not been collected into a volume.
Overall, eBookJapan tops my list with their many offerings and functional, no fuss viewer. Margaret! Bookstore comes next with their app-only offers.
Do you only buy digital copies, hard copies or a mix of both? Which site do you usually go to?
(The original post has since been edited and updated with new information. – First revision on July 26, 2015. Second revision on April 12, 2016.)