We published our second Community Survey here on Manga Planet to understand how fans read manga. We asked several questions on scanlations and officially licensed manga to better grasp how readers use and view them. We want to mention that we are aware of the controversy surrounding scanlations. We would like to start a respectful conversation on the matter and provide a space for discussion.
“Scanlation” is a portmanteau of “scan” and “translation.” Scanlations are Japanese manga or Korean manwha that have been scanned, translated, and edited by fans (usually in scanlation “groups”) and are often made available online free of charge.
We asked respondents questions such as whether they read scanlations, which official services they use, etc. The responses have been analyzed and summarized in this article. Also, we asked readers to share any comments and questions they might have for publishers.
Where do you currently reside?
We received 94 responses from 25 different countries. Our team categorized the countries in the chart below by United Nations geographic divisions. 12 regions were represented with the largest population of 43.6% of respondents in Northern America. The second populous region is Southeastern Asia at 12.8%. Southern Europe, Southern Asia, Northern Africa, Eastern Europe, Eastern Asia, and Central America account for less than 4% of respondents each.
How often do you read manga?
Almost 60% of respondents read manga daily. 29.8% of fans answered that they read manga weekly or a few times a week. 11.7% of respondents consume manga less frequently, with some responding they often read titles in a short time, with long periods in between those times.
Which device do you use to read manga?
The survey allowed for multiple responses, explaining why the values in the graph do not add up to 100%. Over 73% of users responded that they read physical copies of manga. Almost 60% use smartphones with the choice of desktop PC and tablet PC (including e-readers) in third and least popular, respectively.
However, further analysis of the responses showed that respondents reading physical copies of manga are more likely to combine it with another device. We found that the most popular combination (16% of respondents) is to read manga on desktop PC and smartphone digitally, and read physical copies as well. Around 4% of respondents use all three devices as well as read physical copies of manga. Approximately 29% of readers use three means of reading manga; roughly 40% of readers use two means, while almost 27% use only one.
Do you read scanlated manga?
Next, we asked whether users read scanlations. Over 73% of respondents answered they do read scanlated manga while the remaining 26.6% answered they do not.
Why do you read scanlations?
For those who responded “Yes” in the previous question, we asked why they read scanlations. Respondents answered in free-word responses to this question. We categorized responses into three groups. “Affordable” means that the respondents read scanlations because they are the cheaper alternative. “Preview” includes respondents who explained that they test read the scanlated versions of manga to decide whether they are interested in buying the official release. The third category, which was the biggest reason for reading scanlations was that it is accessible. The Accessible pie slice shows the details on what “Accessible” entails. Most readers stated that the titles they read are not licensed nor officially translated in their region. The speed and ease of access to scanlations were also significant factors. Many answering there was “no other source” included explanations that there were no local manga stores or they do not own a credit card, which is often required when shopping for manga online.
Where do you read scanlated manga?
We followed by asking where respondents read scanlated manga. Respondents were able to choose multiple answers as well as add their own, if it was not already included. The percentage of users answering that they “don’t read scanlations” decreased by 1.1%. However, the “unspecified” category may include the difference. Evidently, many respondents read manga through aggregator websites, which are websites that serve as a platform for users to upload and read scanlations from different groups, all on one website. We proceeded to ask which sites respondents frequented. Mangadex and Manga Rock took the lead followed by Mangakakalot, Kissmanga, and Mangago.
Do you buy official releases of manga?
We proceeded to ask whether readers buy official releases of manga. 85% of respondents answered Yes. 3% responded “Occasionally” while almost 12% stated they do not. Those who responded “No” were asked to state their reason, using free word responses, for not buying official releases. Respondents answered “No” primarily because the official releases are not available in their region. Some users responded that they read legally free manga, meaning they go to monthly subscription services that offer free content (like Manga Planet!) or go to their local library to borrow and read manga.
Which services do you use to read official releases of manga?
Next, we asked which services respondents use for official releases of manga. Readers were able to pick multiple answers as well as add their own answers. 17.4% of users responded Viz (or Shonen Jump) and 16.7% responded Manga PLUS.
Are you satisfied with official releases of manga?
To assess official releases of manga, we asked whether readers were satisfied with them. 55.2% of respondents replied “Yes,” while 27.7% replied “No.” 12.8% of respondents were caught in between, expressing that they understand the complexity of releasing a title but would still prefer some improvements, and 4.3% were “Neutral.”
The top reasons for user satisfaction are the quality and frequency of official releases, as well as the price and the fact that users can directly support the artist. The top reasons for respondents’ dissatisfaction were the lack of frequency of releases, too high prices or unlocalized pricing, and the quality of the releases despite the wait and the cost. Others stated that many of the official releases were only accessible digitally but not physically, or vice versa. Respondents were able to pick multiple answers as well as add their own.
How can official releases of manga be improved to serve you better?
Lastly, we want to know how publishers can improve meaningfully. So we asked how official releases of manga could be improved to serve readers better. The free word answers were categorized into seven groups: Speed, Accessibility, Affordability, Variety, Consistency, Quality, and Quantity.
|Accessibility||More digital/physical options, more magazine-style releases, availability in different languages|
|Affordability||Lower prices, more subscription models, convert prices to local currency considering purchasing power|
|Consistency||Provide proficient information (i.e., hiatus), finish a series until the end|
|Quality||Improve typesetting, translations, and volumes’ appearance|
|Speed||More frequent releases, simultaneous releases to Japanese schedules|
|Variety||More variations in genre and titles, release more than just the popular titles|
23.3% of respondents answered that the accessibility of official releases must be improved. Some mentioned that several services have region blocks which prevents them from reading manga. In terms of quality, 18.9% of users stated it should be improved but many also explained that the quality depends on the publisher. 17.8% asked for improved speed, saying that many releases move too slowly, driving them away from official manga. 14.4% of respondents stated the affordability was an issue and that the costs rack up, forcing some to have to choose between titles to support. A similar 14.4% thought that variety could improve as many readers have particular interests other than the mainstream titles. 7.8% of users want the consistency to improve so that they do not waste their time and money on inconsistent releases. And finally, 3.3% of respondents want the quantity to improve so that there is more to enjoy.
What do you think?
We received many questions and comments from readers for publishers about manga that is currently officially released. We hope to reflect on the feedback in order to bring you our best service. We are always open to listen so please let us know what you think on Twitter!
Were any of the responses unexpected? How do you read manga? What do you think are the implications of scanlated manga? Those who want to elaborate on their response or did not get the chance to fill out the survey, check out our Twitter and let us know!
We will be back soon with another Community Survey. In the meantime, be sure to swing by the Manga Planet Library if you want to read more manga and support artists!
Featured image from Pakutaso
About Manga Planet: Read manga, support artists
In 2012, Manga Planet started as a joint project between Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and FANTASISTA, INC. to research and explore the ways manga is read throughout the world. Aiming to bring new manga to fans from all over the world and support artists and the industry, Manga Planet pushes for affordability and access to manga through a subscription-based service.
Readers who subscribe to Manga Planet and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.mangaplanet.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.