Let’s be honest, a lot of folks aren’t doing too well financially right now. While news and social media are filled with increasing worry over the economy and cost of living, it’s incredibly natural to dive into our favorite hobbies to escape from reality.
Unfortunately, if you’re a manga or light novel reader, that hobby can be pretty hard on the purse strings. From novels to manga, almost all publishers have raised their RRP by about 10 to 20% over the course of 2022—and if you’re reading multiple serials a month, that’s an entire manga you might have to skip!
If you’re looking for the cheapest way to read manga in 2023, we’ve gathered some helpful resources that’ll let you legally read manga while still supporting the industry. Join us today on Honey’s Anime as we talk about the Cheapest Ways to Read Manga in 2023!
Most of our readers will be familiar with the online options for reading manga, but you’d be surprised just how much you can save by switching to a digital experience—whether you’re streaming content or purchasing ePubs.
If you don’t have frequent access to a computer or internet, remember that your local library can often provide computer and internet access for periods of time, completely free!
1. VIZ Shonen Jump
The best bang-for-your-buck option for reading digital manga is VIZ Shonen Jump. Their website and associated app let you read a bunch of “vault” chapters for free in each series, and after that, you can read 100 chapters per day for just $2.99/mo.
This is a great way to binge-read huge shonen series like Bleach or One Piece, but also lets you stay up-to-date on newly releasing chapters that haven’t been bound into volumes yet, like for Kaiju No. 8 or Spy x Family.
Also—for Kodansha readers, the ‘K Manga’ app is due for release in May 2023 and is aimed at being a direct rival to VIZ’s offering.
Straight from the publishing giant Kadokawa, BookWalker is definitely the cheapest option for reading digital manga or light novels, with competitive prices that are far cheaper than Amazon’s ComiXology or Kindle. BookWalker also provides a ‘coin back’ program that allows you to earn points for your purchases and apply those to future purchases.
Unfortunately, BookWalker’s app leaves a lot to be desired, but if you don’t mind reading on your laptop or computer’s browser, BookWalker is really cost-efficient—for many series, you can even buy chapters individually for an average of $1.80. The storefront also holds excellent sales, sometimes slashing up to 90% off popular series!
Collecting manga physically is an increasingly expensive hobby. With the rising prices of printing and shipping, even a single volume is now pushing close to $14! While social media like TikTok and Twitter encourages readers to have huge collections, you need to be smart about your money in hard times—but that doesn’t mean you should go without reading manga entirely!
1. Local Libraries & Traveling Libraries
We’ll be honest, your local library will always be hit-and-miss when it comes to carrying manga. We doubt you’ll get the latest volumes of every series, but if you don’t mind reading some older or more obscure series, you might get lucky. You can also ask the librarians to order in series—if your librarians don’t know that readers want something, they won’t know to purchase it!
There are also ‘traveling libraries’ like the fantastic Carolina Manga Library, which frequently travels to anime conventions and colleges, offering a library of over 5000 manga that anyone can enter and read for free.
2. Online Marketplaces / Thrift Stores
Plenty of readers (ourselves included!) end up with too many manga and like to de-shelve by selling manga online via Facebook Marketplace or other online marketplaces. Most of the time, you can get physical manga that’s only been read once (or maybe never), for half-price, and you can also roll a saving throw for haggling the price down!
Thrift stores can be a treasure trove of manga, too! It’s a little more hassle than jumping online and buying from someone, but thrift stores often end up with manga and novels from people de-shelving or donating to charity. Some larger thrift companies, like Goodwill Books and Thrift Books, even have websites that list their manga offerings.
There’s no shame in admitting that times are tough, and financial strain can be a tough emotional burden to bear. You might need to make hard cuts on hobbies and other non-essentials, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon reading manga entirely!
We hope that these options for cheaply reading manga help you. If you’ve found other ways to read manga or light novels inexpensively, please let us know in the comments below—and as always, thanks for reading.