Digital Reads: Ebookjapan

December 20, 2013 |  by

One of the things I dreaded when I moved to Australia was how I’m going to weed my precious manga collection. By then, my collection has blown out of proportion and to choose which ones to part with tore me apart. Quite literally, if you ask my heart.

Painful as the process was, it had to be done. Thankfully, my uni’s Japanese department was willing to adopt some of them. And to fill the void of my lost manga, I turned to ebookjapan.

Ebookjapan is a repository of Japanese digital reads: from novels, anthologies, to comics. The entire site’s in Japanese and only distributes Japanese language texts. It’s quite useless for those who don’t speak moon runes, but it is a treasure trove for those who can. Also a great learning tool for those studying Japanese.

No geolocation restrictions

The hardest part about purchasing digital manga, Japanese or English, is location restrictions. As someone who doesn’t live in Japan or in the US, it sucks big time that I can’t access some titles. Viz-released titles are available only to US readers. On the other hand, some sites like Honto requires a Japanese phone (and for some, they can only rent a manga for a period?) while Amazon Japan requires a Japanese credit card and address to purchase manga via Kindle.

Ebookjapan doesn’t have those kinds of restrictions. Simply register and log in their website, install their program in all your devices, and start purchasing titles from the website.

Save on Digital?

I was really hoping that going digital saves a lot of cash but no. Not in the case of EbookJapan. Books in ebookjapan are sold individually. There’s no subscription service which is great and it makes you choose to buy the titles you’re interested in. Its prices competes with printed text which makes you want to buy the actual manga. However, if like me, you live in at the ends of the earth and shipping just one book actually costs thrice the price of the book, then Ebookjapan is a good compromise.

Alternately, you can also wait for specials which sometimes halves or even dramatically lowers the price of a manga you’re interested in down to 100 Yen. They also have a point system which makes you earn points per purchase and use those points to lower the price of manga you’re reading.

Manga interface

I’ve been using ebookjapan’s various programs over different devices over the years and I’m quite amused how ebookjapan’s technology’s changed and adapted with the times. For many reasons, really. Protection from pirating mostly.

The Ebookjapan Mac Application Interface for downloaded books

For one, I find it interesting that it has its own file format, .ebi. For novels, they already have the .epub format but comics still have ebookjapan’s own format, guaranteeing that no other program can read their files but theirs. You can now view the books you’ve purchased either via the browser, their app (IOS/Android), or their program (Win/Mac).

The Ebookjapan Mac Application Interface

When purchasing comics, they immediately put your manga in a trunkroom (their version of a cloud) and it allows you to just download the manga that you want. Just a note: when a manga has been downloaded to a device and you want to get rid of it because it’s taking space: DO NOT DELETE IT. Deleting it will remove access to the title. Instead, you have to reupload back to the trunk so that you can redownload it again if you need it.

Interestingly, you can’t take a screen cap of ebookjapan when you’re using it in Mac, but you can using the browser and their Android app. It’s quite convenient for me since I can just cap when I do reviews and share my reads via instagram, tumblr, or twitter. That said, the quality of the screen cap is not big or smooth enough for scanlators who have plans in using their raws for distribution.

Android Menu interface for Ebookjapan. All these menu things disappear when you tap the middle area

Reading interface on all devices is straightforward with easy intuitive controls and a menu that’s not intrusive until you call on it. The browser and PC/Mac platform has more zoom, reading, and review options. It’s actually quite nice and competes even with Amazon’s Kindle. And it’s browser option is far superior compared to Jmanga or Crunchyroll’s.

The Chrome Browser Menu Interface

All the awesome manga

Perhaps my true joy with ebookjapan is that it has a lot of titles. A whole lot of titles, even out of print titles (which is awesome!) They started with smaller publishers and authors but now, even Shueisha has added their titles in Ebookjapan!1

The Chrome Browser Reading Interface

Ebookjapan’s release date of some titles may be a few months late but if you’re not in a rush, you can possible wait out those few months and hope ebookjapan releases those titles. I think it’s perfect for transients like me who’s not sure when I’ll be packing my books again or if I even have sufficient space to keep my comics.

While I pine for manga that I cannot have, Ebookjapan fills the empty void in my manga heart. It’s all right. In fact, I’m quite happy with it. I’m not sure if I’ll try other digital options like honto but given that this company has been going on quite strong for the past 13 years, I have less worries about losing the titles I’ve bought. So far, it seems they’re going strong with their repository of Japanese comics growing larger by the day.

Now, here’s hoping something similar will be done in English. Will it be Crunchyroll? Amazon Kindle? Kobo? Who knows.

  1. They used to have it locked to smanga before. They also have it in Amazon. However, you notice that if you’re living internationally, you can’t purchase Shueisha titles via Amazon Japan. But you can purchase them via Ebookjapan! []
 
  • illdrinn

    Where are you living in Australia? There’s a large Kinokuniya in Sydney which stocks a large range of English and Japanese Manga and Comic serials

    • khursten

      I live near Sydney (I’m at the Wollongong area) and yeah Kinokuniya’s all right and I buy there from time to time but when I think how cheap prices are sourced in Japan… I tend to do Amazon deliveries instead.

  • KanjiTomo

    I agree that ebookjapan is currently the best site for reading digital manga in Japanese. They have a nice reading interface and very good selection of titles. If fact ebookjapan was inspiration for me to write a program http://www.kanjitomo.net for identifying kanji with mouse; rikaichan doesn’t work with images.