Why I Bought a JManga Subscription

JManga, a 100% legal digital manga distribution site, is an interesting phenomenon. Good intentions mixed with a hodgepodge of titles and a bizarre pricing structure, which I can basically describe as paying the site to give you an allowance, have made it questionable as to whether or not anyone should try it out. Ultimately I decided to subscribe myself (the $10/month deal), and there are two major reasons for my decision.

The first reason is that it is now available in Europe. Up to only a few months ago, JManga as a service was restricted to the US and Canada, and so I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway. With their roll-out into Europe, however, I wanted to at the very least support that decision. Even if I don’t get terribly many manga on there, I wanted to encourage the idea that regional restrictions for books in digital form is nonsense. Though I know that I’m only one subscriber, I also want other similar services in the future to follow suit.

The second reason is that JManga actually has a feature that I have not seen on any other manga site, legitimate or otherwise. Sure, tons of scanlation sites exist and they provide easy access to thousands of titles, but JManga actually gives you the option to switch back and forth between Japanese and English. One click of a button and the page you’re on changes into the other language. For someone like me who wants to read more manga in Japanese but might have trouble with particularly difficult phrasings or unknown vocabulary, it’s a far simpler solution than constantly running to consult good ol’ Jim Breen. It’s even more convenient than owning the physical books in two languages in certain ways, though the load time between versions can be a bit long, and the interface itself still needs some work.

I’m well aware that this utility really only helps readers with strong (but not perfect) Japanese literacy skills, people who can read a manga in Japanese for the most part, people with a good grasp of kanji, who have a firm enough understanding of the grammatical structure of the language to know what specific part of the sentence in a potentially quite liberal translation corresponds to the original, and who can spot when a joke has been localized for the English version. For beginners, it may be too much of a chore to consult the Japanese versions, and for someone who’s fully fluent or even a native speaker, there’s simply no need to switch to English at all, unless perhaps that person wants to learn English. I happen to fall in that “sweet spot” though, and in that respect I’ve found it quite useful. If you do too, then maybe it’s something worth considering.

By the way, it seems like the most popular manga on JManga are yaoi titles, yuri titles, and Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru. Makes sense to me.

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12 thoughts on “Why I Bought a JManga Subscription

  1. I think they still need to fix their player a bit and change how they price things (which is why they’re doing a survey), but yeah, it’s been ok so far…I just wonder if it’ll get better…

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      • I support it in concept and I did, for a while.

        I subscribed for two months and in that time read a few genuinely good titles – Hiromu Arakawa’s Farm Noble Diary was worth the subscription overall as was that Oshigoto office comic – but after that, there really wasn’t much else for me to keep me there. Not to mention the added annoyance that the few other titles I wanted aren’t available to the UK. The refrigerator analogy is fairly apt!

        Not their fault, sure but I’ll unsubscribe until anything else appears. Other than endless Saito / yaoi titles.

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  2. I subscribed to JManga as soon as I saw their English-translation of Soredemo Machi Wa Mawatteiru. I love that book and I still want it in physical form (American manga publishers, are you listening?). Manga on a PC just isn’t the same as a book, what with all the zooming and scrolling… and of course I despise DRM.

    They have some other good stuff, but much of it can already be found elsewhere.

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  3. Pingback: » Why I Stopped My JManga Subscription Omonomono

  4. I subscribed to JManga to support the yuri titles when they started publishing yuri, but they only have the digital equivalent of tankoubon, and they need the digital equivalent of cheap, disposable serials. I’d think like the equivalent of 1/4 of the points to rent a chapter for a week.

    But the reader is very much oriented to people with big screen laptops or desktops ~ the zooming does not function for a 10″ 8:5 ratio netbook, let alone a 7″ 8:5 ratio skinnytab like my Nook Color. They need:

    (1) A setting to lock zoom in two-up and one-up display mode
    (2) a “control-free zone” in the top quarter and bottom quarter of the screen so touch screen users can pan and scan and use the controls without accidentally triggering page turns
    (3) and split up the control zone into thirds right to left, next page, zoom, and previous page, with the on-screen zoom going to the three basic starting points ~ full height, full width, and 100%. Sorting these three out in size order (which will be different depending on screen dimensions and portrait vs landscape) gets the zoom right about where you need it very quickly, with the pop-up control available for fine-tuning.

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  5. Thanks for taking the time to write an article with your thoughts regarding JManga! We do freely acknowledge that the site hasn’t been the best designed, and the pricing structure could use some change – so we are addressing these concerns and more this summer, during the JManga 2.0 overhaul, with our first changes rolling out next week.

    We realize that it hasn’t always been the fastest at adopting changes or such, but we want to thank you for your show of faith in us. It takes time to change an industry, but we are listening, and with your support (a general statement to our users) we can help make many more volumes available worldwide.

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  6. Pingback: JManga Needs Exposure « OGIUE MANIAX

  7. Pingback: On JManga’s Closure, and the Movement of People and Technology | OGIUE MANIAX

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