It is safe to say that the majority of people who love to read manga also love to read a good book. Sure, there are people who prefer to read one thing over the other, but most manga readers won’t hesitate to jump into the original light novel just to know what happens next. Likewise, if our favorite light novels announce a manga adaptation, we’ll certainly devour that version, too.
That being said, despite how closely related both mediums are, there aren’t many manga that talk about books. Sure, characters who like to read books are basically a universal trope that exists in almost every manga out there. But the ones where the story itself is centered around books are surprisingly quite rare. With that in mind, here are five manga for book lovers!
5. Mahoutsukai no Insatsujo (A Witch’s Printing Office)
- Authors: Mochinchi (Story); Miyama, Yasuhiro (Art)
- Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Seinen
- Volumes: 6
- Published: Dec 2019 - Jul 2022
Mika Kamiya is a hardcore otaku who dies on her way home from a Comiket and is transported into a world filled with monsters, magic, and intelligent beings from all sorts of races. And just like any other character in an isekai story, Mika also possesses a special skill upon her arrival to this mysterious world. Her power is Copy Magic. These skills allow her to copy any transcribed magic spell and paste it to another piece of paper.
At a glance, it might not look like useful magic, but Mika decides to leverage this skill by opening the first ever printing company in this magical world. And to promote her services, she also holds the first ever “Magic Market”, or Magiket for short, where witches and wizards can buy and sell their original magic spells. Sort of like the Comiket in Japan. It’s an instant hit among magic users, and works begin to pour into the printing offices. As Mika enjoys her chaotic life as a business owner, she also hopes to stumble upon a magic spell that allows her to go back to her old world.
There are tons of different aspects that contribute to creating and selling a book. This manga decided to discuss a side that is rarely talked about, which is the publisher. And to spice things up even further, the author also adds the elements of isekai and magic to the story. That makes this story so familiar to most book lovers, and yet it also offers something unique and interesting that keeps us glued to the pages.
4. Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san (Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san)
- Authors: Honda
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life, Shoujo
- Volumes: 4
- Published: Jul 2019 - May 2020
Now that we’ve covered the publisher, another interesting side of books that we should talk about is the book seller. After all, they are the bridge between the publisher and the book lovers. Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san is one of the rare manga that gives us an insight into the world of book retailers.
This manga is actually a dramatic retelling of the author’s real experience working as an employee at one of the biggest bookstores in Japan. To make things more interesting, Honda-sensei decided to change her and her co-worker's face into skulls, mummies, and all kinds of strange masks/characters. But other than that, this manga is pretty much an accurate representation of what the day to day life of a bookstore employee looks like, particularly in the manga/fiction department.
From the back-crushing job of restocking super popular manga multiple times a day to trying to find an obscure manga title for customers, and even to negotiating with a publisher’s representative over the placement of their books, you can find everything about being a bookseller here. Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-san will let you into a world that may seem boring at first, but turns out to be super interesting and has tons of hilarious moments.
3. Isekai ni Kyuusheishu to shite Yobaremashita ga, Around 30 ni wa Muri na no de, hissori Book Cafe Hajimemashita (The Savior’s Book Café Story in Another World)
- Authors: Izumi, Kyouka (Original novelist); Oumiya (Story); Sakurada, Reiko (Art)
- Genres: Romance, Fantasy, Slice of Life, Shoujo
- Volumes: 3+
- Published: Dec 2021 - Present
As you can probably tell from its mouthful title, this is yet another isekai fantasy manga. What makes it different, however, is the fact that the main character, a woman named Tsukina, is very reluctant to go to the new world and be its savior. After all, she is a woman in her 30s, so rather than fighting against the demon king, she prefers to sit on her comfortable sofa and read her favorite books.
After haggling with God, Tsukina finally agrees to go to the new world, but in exchange, she wants the power to easily master all kinds of magic, and she also asks God to build a book café for her, among other things. So begins Tsukina’s mundane adventure as she serves the customers of her new café, and occasionally saves the world when she feels like it.
At some point in the life of every book lover, we all want to open our own book café where we can read good books all day, and also help people find their next favorite books. All while sitting in a comfortable chair and eating delicious foods. If that describes who you are, then you should read this manga. Because not only is this the embodiment of your dream, but there’s also an interesting story involving romance and political intrigue weaved throughout.
2. Toshokan no Daimajutsushi (Magus of the Library)
- Authors: Izumi, Mitsu
- Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 5+
- Published: Jul 2019 - Present
Other than book sellers, the other place that we could go to in order to read some books is the library. This is a manga that tells the fantastical life of a librarian who lives in a fantasy world. But not just any librarian; the characters in this manga are librarians who work in the biggest library in the world, and one of their most important jobs is to find a new book from across the world and add it to the library.
The main character in Magus of the Library is a young, half-elf orphan boy who loves to read books. However, as the only elf in a town full of humans, he receives endless harassment every day. When he’s being bullied in the street one day, the boy accidentally meets a group of Kafna - the librarians from Aftzaak, the City of Books. It is said that the biggest library in Aftzaak holds every copy of books from all around the world, and it is the job of the Kafna to hunt for each new book. Unbeknownst to him, that meeting with the Kafna will change his life forever.
The story of the largest library in the world that has every piece of knowledge from across the globe is certainly an allusion to the historical Grand Library of Baghdad, so a story about being a librarian for such a mythical library and also participating in an epic book hunting expedition is pretty much the pinnacle of awesomeness in the world of books. If you consider yourself a book lover, then you should read Magus of the Library.
1. Honzuki no Gekokujou (Ascendance of a Bookworm)
- Authors: Kazuki, Miya (Story); Suzuka (Artist)
- Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 10+
- Published: May 2019 - Present
We’ve talked about the publisher, the bookseller, the book café owner, and the librarian, so now it’s time we talked about creating the book itself. The main character in this manga is a college student named Urano. Just like the other characters on this list, she also loves books very much. And like some of them, she dies and is transported to a new world.
Unfortunately for her, she is reincarnated as a little girl named Myne who not only has a weak body, but also comes from a poor family. What’s even worse is that, in this medieval-like world, most of its citizens are illiterate. That’s why books are considered a luxurious item and only nobles have access to them. Not one to give up on the one thing that she loves the most, Myne decides to challenge herself. If there are no books in this world, then she will make one.
From learning to read and write to creating a cheap and reliable paper, experimenting with different kinds of ink, and all the way to assembling a simple mass-printing process, this manga goes through every single step needed to create a book as we know it today, but using only the limited technology that is available at the time of the story.
That alone should be enough to hook every book lover out there, but combine that with an exciting and heartwarming story of Myne and her intriguing life, and then this manga becomes a must-read.
Despite the fact that there are so many bookworm characters in manga, stories where the books themselves take center stage are quite few and far between. Thankfully, from publishing to creating books, the manga on this list are some of the few titles that truly focus on different aspects of books. That is why you can find stories about characters who love books told through different lenses here, and all of them are interesting to read. So be sure to give any one of them a try.
Have you read any of the manga on this list? If you have, which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.