Exactly where and how does one buy Japanese e-books and digital manga? A lot of Japanese publications have gone digital now so no more hefty import and shipping costs!
This post is not comprehensive and while I try to cover key points for each website listed, let me know if there’s anything else you want to know.
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Want to read free manga? Read here instead.
Arranged in alphabetical order.
iOS and Mac (OSX 10.9 and up)
Some rated titles might not be available on iBooks due to restrictions by Apple.
Thanks to Anny for telling me about iBooks on Mac!
Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.
Registering for a BookWalker account gives you access to both Japan and global releases on one app. Note that some titles may not be available for overseas users due to publishing agreements.
Payment methods include credit cards, PayPal, BookWalker coins and WebMoney. Purchasing with Amazon Pay via Japanese or overseas Amazon accounts are accepted as well!
The app syncs both your Japan and Global bookshelves. They also have ‘unlimited’ plans for light novels and manga (+ magazines) respectively that you can subscribe to every month.
Read more about making my change to BookWalker.
iOS, Android. Terms of service state its service is limited to those in Japan but the website is still accessible to those overseas. Has interesting promotions!
Windows, iOS and Android.
Occasionally gets an early exclusive release compared to other ebook retailers. Has a read-all-you-want plan that is similar to Kindle Unlimited and comes in two variations.
Terms of service state its service is limited to those in Japan but the website is still accessible to those overseas.
Dokusho no Ojikan (Ameba Manga)
iOS and Android (smartphone browsers).
Service provided by Ameba/CyberAgent, Inc. Payment is made with ‘coins’ and can be bought with WebMoney.
iOS, Android, Windows and PC.
You now need a Japanese mobile number to register a new Yahoo!/ebookjapan account and there are no workarounds as of December 2020.
Check out BookWalker, they’re more friendly with overseas users.
They merged with Yahoo! Japan. Purchases made via mobile/PC browsers might be easier. (Tip thanks to @funkytachi on Twitter!).
March 2020 – My payment info were transferred from the old website and I didn’t remove it until the first auto-buy kicked in. Immediately removed it but months later, a new volume released and ebj charged me, won’t let me dispute it unless I have evidence of the before and after.
They don’t drop you an email about any changes made to your account (addition, removal of CC info) so just be vigilant.
Definitely dropping them like the hot potato they are.
Check out my post on ebookjapan. eBookJapan merges with Yahoo! Bookstore
PC browser, Windows, iOS and Android
Also available are Shueisha’s shoujo and josei titles.
There are also bilingual titles available but the formatting and translation could use a little more work.
Their e-reader app is also revamped (iOS, Android and Windows) and you can now buy books right from your smart devices.
PC, iOS and Android version.
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.
Kindle (Amazon Japan)
Windows, iOS, Android and PC.
May require a VPN and a Japanese forwarding address to properly set up. Occasionally has some awesome sales.
iOS and Android.
Must have a Japanese iTunes account. Purchases made are in-app but they require you to buy a certain amount of coins – which I don’t like. I reinstalled it but found myself region-locked out of the app. VPN doesn’t help, I wonder if a LINE account linked to Facebook could be a possible workaround.
iOS and Android. Hakusensha’s all-in-one app of manga, manga magazines, radio and video segments of Japanese voice actors and idols. You can read and purchase directly on the app.
MangaPark W, the English counterpart of the app is currently available in Kenya and Nigeria, basically distributing English releases of various Hakusensha titles. There are free serialisations with frequent updates.
Aspiring manga authors can also sign up and post your works at MangaLab where Hakusensha editors provide comments and a platform for you to reach readers.
iOS, Android and browsers. The Japanese counterpart of the English website known for its translated Harlequin manga. Overseas use allowed but depending on the terms of certain content providers, some content might not be available.
Ribomaga formerly Margaret! Bookstore
Offers shoujo and josei manga published by Shueisha and Hakusensha. In-app purchases are available.
Web purchases can be made via credit card and WebMoney (by your cellphone service provider too, if you’re in Japan).
PC, iOS and Android browsers.
All manga published by Shogakukan available here as well as the advance release of digital exclusive manga magazines, MobaMAN, Mobile Flower and &FLOWER.
PC, iOS and Android.
Some titles have unlimited access while some have expiry dates; both are differently priced. It’s stated in their terms and conditions that overseas users are not allowed to use their service but the website is still accessible.
iOS and Android. An app that allows you to read light novels in the form of chats. In-app purchases are available to purchase more story tickets.
Light novels of mainstream popularity to original and exclusive to the app available.
(This post is originally posted on October 17, 2014 with multiple updates over the years. The latest update was on October 30, 2020.)