Comics/Graphic Novels

Your Go-To Guide for How and Where to Read Manga

Patricia Thang

Senior Contributor

Patricia Thang is an educator located in Los Angeles. Though a native Angeleno through and through, her heart also belongs to Tokyo, where much of her family is from. Besides books, she is an enthusiastic devourer of many things, including podcasts, television, and J-pop. She realizes there’s not enough time in the world to consume all of that content, but she’s trying anyway. Other endeavors to which she has dedicated herself include cuddling her dogs until they’re annoyed and taste-testing every vegan ice cream she can find. Twitter: @aintnopthang

As the U.S. manga market continues to grow, it’s exciting to see more and more readers begin to explore the medium and find stories that they love. But when a whole new category of books is suddenly opened up to you, there are also some practical matters to consider. In this particular case, the questions of how and where to read manga are some of the top issues new readers are often curious about. So, to answer these questions, here is a quick and easy how-to guide for where to read manga to your heart’s content!

Where to Read Manga: A How-To

Step 1: Physical or Digital?

One of the first things manga consumers will want to consider is whether you want to read physical volumes or if you want to go digital. Because manga are so quick to read, and many series can run for a very long time, committing to physical definitely has logistical challenges. Those volumes will add up very quickly, and who has the space for all that? My personal advice is to consume most of your manga digitally, and you can reserve your physical shelf space for only those very favorite titles, if you’d like. Besides, there are also plenty of manga out there that are only released digitally, or that are released digitally a few months or so prior to getting released in print.

Step 2: How to Find New and Recommended Titles

Now that you’ve decided to take the leap into the manga world, there’s still one thing you must do before getting to the actual reading part: deciding what manga, of the infinite choices out there, to read in the first place! There are so many choices out there: how is one supposed to know where to begin?

For starters — and I hope you don’t mind this plug — you can certainly browse right here on Book Riot! We’ve got tons of manga content on the site with plenty of recommendations for all kinds of readers, including both backlist and new releases!

Otherwise, a surefire way to stay on top of what’s available and coming out is to go to the manga publishers themselves. Some of the major players in the North American manga scene include VIZ Media, Seven Seas, Kodansha USA, and Yen Press. All of these sites provide news of each respective publisher’s newest acquisitions and releases, plus VIZ and Kodansha have the added option to create membership accounts to be able to access all the latest chapters of your favorite series directly from the source.

An additional resource I like to check in on is Anime News Network, which has tons of up-to-date news and reviews about all the latest and greatest in manga. They even do weekly roundups of all North American manga (and anime) releases!

Step 3: Where to Read Manga Digitally

Now that we’ve determined what to read, it’s time for the most important question: where do we go to read it? There are various options out there, many of which are highlighted in our other posts about the best manga reader sites and apps and the best manga websites. Today, I’ll specifically discuss three strategies for reading manga digitally.

First off, it does have to be mentioned that perhaps the most seamless places to go for digital manga are the major booksellers: namely Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Both sell a wide variety of manga titles and have manga-specific pages on their sites, which makes browsing easy. As with any other books you’d buy from these sellers, you can choose to buy manga in ebook format, which will then be accessible to you via Kindle or Nook. If you’re already an avid reader of ebooks from these sites, this would definitely be the simplest way to also get started with manga.

Personally, the number one place I turn to for my manga reading is the site and app Book Walker. Book Walker is a global online store dedicated to manga and light novels. You can browse by popular rankings, genre, or publisher, making finding what you’re looking for a breeze. For myself, because I read most of my manga in Japanese, I like Book Walker because I can easily switch between the global store and the Japanese store with everything seamlessly staying attached to my account. All you have to do is purchase the manga you want on the site, then you can read either in browser or in the app. Book Walker has frequent sales and promotions, plus you earn coins with every purchase that can be redeemed on future orders, so it’s also not too tricky to keep your manga habit affordable if you can find the right deals.

At this point, some of you may be wondering, “Is there any way to read manga online for free?”. Many sites may offer free sample chapters here and there, but as with most media content, there is no way to legally consume unlimited manga for free. Any legal manga site will require individual purchases or some sort of regular subscription/membership fee. But for those of you on a budget, fear not! I may have said there’s “no way” to legally read manga for free, but I admit that was a bit of an exaggeration, because our final option for reading manga is thanks to libraries! Both Libby and Hoopla are wonderful platforms that I love using to connect with my local library system, and both make reading manga easy in their apps. Of course, options may be limited based on the specific catalog of your library system, but this is an excellent option if you want to test the waters before committing your wallet, or are just looking to save for whatever reason.

And there you have it! I hope this guide about how and where to read manga provides enough advice for any style of reader on any kind of budget to be able to jump straight into the wonderful world of manga. Enjoy! And if you’re itching to expand your options even more, you can also explore these options for reading manhwa and webtoons.