In mid-April, we published our third Community Survey here on Manga Planet asking about habits surrounding physical copies of manga specifically. The survey was open for one week, receiving 143 responses, and asked questions like whether the respondent bought or borrowed physical copies of manga, where they go to get them, and how much they were willing to pay for them. Additionally, there were questions of Print-On-Demand manga, usually sold at conventions or similar events.
As always, we were open to free word responses so that respondents could fully explain their reasonings and trains of thought. We have included some of these views and opinions in this report.
Where do you currently reside?
Over a week, we received 143 responses from 26 different countries. The largest population of respondents at 44.1% live in the United States, followed by 9.1% of people residing in the Philippines. The most populous region, in accordance with the United Nations geographic divisions, is Northern America at 49% of the respondents. Northern America is followed by a close call for second most populous with Southeastern Asia and Northern Europe at 11.9% and 10.5% respectively.
What is your age?
In response to how old each respondent is, we find that 42% of respondents are aged 25-30. Combine with the 18-24 range of 29%, and those under 30 make up 71% of the population. Those over 41 account for 5% of the overall number.
Do you read physical copies of manga?
When asked whether they read physical copies of manga, 98% responded “Yes” while only 2% said “No.”
How do you get physical copies of manga?
Of those who do read physical copies of manga, 2.1% of respondents exclusively borrow manga, 66.4% exclusively buy manga, and 31.4% of respondents both borrow and buy physical copies of manga.
Where do you buy physical copies of manga?
We proceeded to ask those who buy manga, where they go to get it. From the results, looking at the services, we calculated that the ratio of online locations to physical locations was 41 to 59. The names of retailers are specified under “Online” for online retailers and under “Physical” for physical retailers. The size of boxes indicates the number of times the retailer was mentioned in the responses.
If you borrow physical copies of manga, where do you borrow them?
Similarly, for those who borrow manga, we asked from where they borrow. The majority 52.3% of respondents borrow from libraries in their school, community, etc. Respondents who borrow from friends account for 46.7% and the remaining 0.9% of respondents use comic rental services.
Which genre of manga do you read?
We asked respondents the genres of manga they read. As usual, this question had the option to fill in free word answers. Therefore, as most respondents chose more than one genre, the numbers written above each genre indicate the number of times the genre was mentioned. Boys’ Love (BL) came first with 114 mentions. Shonen, shojo, seinen, and josei were fairly similar spanning from 92 to 82. Several other genres were mentioned like girls’ love (GL), horror, fantasy, and so on. Genres mentioned only once were put into “other.” Some of these genres are historical, mecha, and sports.
How much are you willing to spend for a physical copy of a manga?
Next we asked the willingness-to-spend on a physical copy of manga. Surprisingly, 52.1% of respondents said they would pay $11 and above. However, many people said they would spend $11 upward until a certain point, some say around $16. Several respondents explained that if the copy was a special edition or a hardcover, they would be willing to spend even up to $50 for a copy. Others mentioned it depends on the quality of the manga and their interest in the title.
In which language(s) do you read physical copies of manga?
We asked respondents which language or languages they read physical copies of manga. Again, many respondents replied with more than one language, therefore the sum of the shown values will not match the actual number of respondents. 134 people responded that they read in English. The second most read language was Japanese followed by Spanish, French, Italian, then German. Languages mentioned only once were renamed “Other.” These languages are: Indonesian, Finnish, Chinese, and Portuguese.
Will you buy print-on-demand (POD) manga?
Print-on-demand (POD) manga is manga that is printed in small quantities and sold only during a certain period such as during an anime or manga convention. 57.3% of respondents said they will buy POD manga while 2.8% said they will not. Lying somewhere in between, the remaining 39.9% answered “Maybe.” Many explained that it depends on the pricing and whether the title or genre interests them or not.
How much are you willing to spend for a copy of POD manga?
On the issue of pricing, we asked how much the respondent would be willing to spend on a POD manga. Although the question states “If yes,…” those who replied “Maybe” to the previous question were also asked to answer. Exactly 50% of respondents said they would pay $11 and above for POD manga. The other half was split between $7 to $10 at 36.2%, $4 to $6 at 7.2%, and $1 to $3 at 1.4%. The remaining 5.1% responded that, again, it depends on whether they are interested in the title or not.
Which genre of manga do you want to be printed-on-demand?
We proceeded to ask which genres interested the respondents for POD manga. The size of the boxes on the chart indicate the number of times the genre was mentioned. In the “Other” box, genres mentioned a limited number of times, such as historical and sports, were included.
In which language(s) would you like to read POD manga?
There was little different between which language or languages respondents read physical copies of manga and which language they wanted to read POD manga. However, the number of languages in “Other” reduced to Indonesian, Finnish, and Portuguese.
Are you satisfied with official releases of physical copies of manga? Why or why not?
Next we asked about respondents’ satisfaction levels. 71.3% of respondents said they were currently satisfied, 15.4% were unable to say either yes or no and were somewhat satisfied, and 13.3% said they were not satisfied. Below each section are the reasons for their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Again, the size of the boxes indicate the popularity of that answer. For example, the most common reason for being satisfied was that the quality of the official releases of physical copies of manga was good, followed by the frequency of releases, price, permanency (the fact that it exists and can never be “taken down” like some digital releases), availability, then quantity of titles and volumes being put out. The reasons under “Somewhat” and “No” are all negative factors. For instance, whereas “Quality” under “Yes” means sufficient quality, “Quality” under “Somewhat” and “No” mean insufficient quality.
How can official releases of physical copies of manga be further improved?
We asked both satisfied and dissatisfied respondents points for improvement and gathered the results. “Covers & Pages” include aspects like spine alignment, durability of covers, paper quality, having some color pages, and so on. “Speed & Quantity” refer to things like improvements on the frequency of releases, simultaneously publishing content in Japanese and English, and simply, more number of not only popular titles but more alternative works. “Editorial” mentioned the printing and production elements of manga like leaving a sufficient gutter so readers do not have to stretch open the book to be able to see the full page near the spine and better typesetting and proofreading for mistakes and incontinuity issues. “Affordability” simply means lowering the price of each single volume. “Accessibility” improvements indicate that there are not enough means to actually obtain the copies and searching in libraries and bookstores is hit or miss. “Quality” is the general printing quality of copies and the translation/localization quality. The term “Goodies” refers to respondents wanting extra author’s notes or little gifts when buying the physical manga like keychains and postcards, which is a common practice in Japan. “Advertising” includes the promotion of titles as well as providing some sort of way to preview the titles before buying them. “Consistency” deals mainly with the issue of publishers dropping a title or terminating printing of a title, leaving readers on an eternal cliffhanger. Other improvements include things like having other size options for books and more omnibus options for more extensive titles.
Which manga genre do you want to be physically released?
Lastly, respondents were asked which genres they wanted to see more of. Overall, Boys’ Love was mentioned the most. Other genres include Romance, Romantic Comedy, Fantasy, Slice of Life, etc.
What do you think?
We received many comments from readers and appreciate the responses. The information in this report has been simplified but we are aware of individual reasonings and explanations submitted to us. Furthermore, we are always open to listen so please let us know what you think on Twitter!
Were you surprised with the results? Do you use other services to buy physical copies of manga? What do you think about POD 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!
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.