Finding Manga: Library Love

Support manga, support your library!

National Library SymbolI recently came to the decision to retire my bimonthly Library Love feature. With the slogan “Support manga, support your library!,” Library Love was a way for me to highlight manga that I was borrowing and reading from my local libraries. It’s time for me to finally say goodbye to Library Love in order to make room at Experiments in Manga for other features and reviews. In the future, I will be including my thoughts on my library manga finds in the “Quick Takes” section of the My Week in Manga feature. As I say my final farewell to Library Love (the feature, not my actual love for libraries which is eternal), I wanted to make one last special Library Love post that focused on actually finding manga in libraries. What I’ll have to say specifically applies to libraries in the United States and Canada since those are what I am most familiar with, but hopefully my comments will apply to library systems in other countries as well.

I adore libraries and I have since I was very young. I don’t think anyone was really very surprised when I fell into librarianship as a career. There are many, many reasons that I’m thankful for libraries which I won’t get into here, but I would like to say this: If it wasn’t for libraries, I would not have become the manga fanatic that I am now. When I first started reading manga, it was all borrowed from libraries. For one thing, collecting manga requires both money and space. Making use of libraries that are already doing some of that collecting is a good thing. It benefits you and it benefits libraries, too. Manga and comics tend to circulate well, and good circulations statistics help libraries in a variety of ways. Plus, by supporting manga at your library, you are also supporting the creators and publishers of that manga.

Manga can be found in all types of libraries: public, academic, school, special. Archives and museums get in on the manga action, too. It’s somewhat difficult to make generalizations regarding how to find manga in libraries because each library is different and serves a different population. Broadly speaking, libraries are organized in the way that best serves its patrons, which means that the same manga found in one library may be shelved in another area entirely at a different library. Some libraries will shelve manga and other comics by subject, mixed in with the rest of the collection. Other libraries will have an entire section devoted specifically to manga and graphic novels. In some cases, a library may divide materials by age group. There any number of ways to organize a collection, and each library is different. Familiarize yourself with your library’s system and be aware that you may need to look in multiple places to find all of the manga.

One of the benefits of a library is that it is a physical location that you can visit.  After you figure out where the manga is shelved, take time to browse! It’s a quick and easy way of determining what sorts of manga your library collects and sampling what it has. There’s also this wonderful phenomena called serendipity—you might discover manga that you didn’t even know you wanted to read. But don’t limit yourself to what you can see on the shelf, because the library will always have more manga available. Be sure to make use of the library’s catalog, too. Most libraries have an online catalog that supports searches by title, creator, subject, ISBN, general keyword, and more. Some libraries are even beginning to explore digital options for manga and comics, too.

Finding manga through a library doesn’t stop there, either. Many libraries participate in interlibrary loan programs which allow one library to borrow materials that another library owns. This is a fantastic way to track down copies of hard-to-find or out-of-print manga to read. Many libraries also accept and pursue purchase suggestions from their patrons. If there’s a manga you’d like to read or that you think would be a good fit for your library, let someone know! Generally, libraries want to provide access to the materials that people want or are excited about; they want to spend money on materials that will actually be used. Which brings me to my final point about manga in libraries: Don’t be afraid to talk with the librarians and other library workers! Make suggestions, ask questions, and give feedback. We really are here to help.

Quick Tips for Finding Manga in Libraries
1) Manga might be kept in multiple areas, you may need to look around
2) Browse the shelves, but search the catalog, too
3) Check to see if your library participates in an interlibrary loan program
4) Many libraries accept purchase suggestions. Don’t see what you want? Ask for it!
5) Don’t be afraid of the librarians and other library workers (We’re here to help!)

Finding Manga: Right Stuf

Believe it or not, Right Stuf, one of North America’s largest anime and manga specific retailers, started out as a business focused on the buying and selling of telescopes. It’s thanks to the 1960s Astro Boy anime that the company turned its attention elsewhere. In 2012, Right Stuf celebrated its 25th anniversary as a publisher, distributor, and retailer not only of anime, but of manga and related merchandise as well. Since I discovered the existence of Right Stuf, it has quickly become one of the primary vendors I use to acquire new manga and anime. As one of my favorite retailers, I’d like to share a few tips on finding and buying manga through Right Stuf.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, the best way to search for manga on Right Stuf is by title. For newer manga you can also search by the thirteen digit ISBN (without hyphens) since it is what Right Stuf generally uses for the item code. For the most part, there is no author or creator search which I find disappointing. But to make up for it, Right Stuf has one of the most easily browsed catalogs that I’ve encountered online. Right Stuf also has one of the most complicated and comprehensive advanced searches that I know of, and I am a huge fan of it. The advanced search includes options for genre, publisher, age rating, year of creation, price range, and more. Just remember to check the boxes for any of the options you want to search.

One of the many options available in the advanced search is product availability. Each item page includes this information. If you need a particular item in a rush, you’ll want to take note of its availability status. If something is listed as “In Stock and Available” you should be good to go since it will be able to be shipped immediately. Other possibilities which take longer to ship are “Pre-Order, Not Yet Shipping,” “More Arriving Soon!,” “We’ll Get It for You!,” and “Special Order.” Each of these are still expected to be fulfilled within a certain period of time. (More information can be found here.) Product availability is updated on an hourly basis and will affect how quickly your complete order will be shipped.

Right Stuf has a ton of ways to save on manga. In addition to any current sales that are going on (and there’s always a sale going on), the store has Daily Deals, Weekly Specials that are updated every Thursday, multiple Bargain Bins, and special Bargain Bundles that are only available through Right Stuf. Even if something isn’t currently on sale, Right Stuf generally offers at least a 25% discount off of the cover price for manga. Out-of-print and hard-to-find materials are often in stock at Right Stuf even after they’ve long been gone from other retailer’s inventories with absolutely no price gouging.

Larger sales, generally based on a particular publisher, usually overlap by one day. I like to place my orders on that day in order to take advantage of both sales at once. It makes it even easier to reach the $49 needed for free shipping within the U.S. (An order of $250 is currently necessary for free shipping to Canada.) Right Stuf also ships internationally and is currently investigating ways to offer better and cheaper shipping options to overseas customers. Currently, international orders require a credit card. Domestically, purchases can be made with a credit card, check, or money order.

There are several different methods I use to stay informed with what’s going on at Right Stuf and what’s on sale. If you’re on Twitter, the Right Stuf account can be found at @animetoday and is updated regularly. Right Stuf also sends a weekly e-mail newsletter to those who sign up for it. There is even an option to receive press releases. But my favorite way of keeping track of Right Stuf is to regularly check the Recent Changes page. In addition to items with price changes, the page also lists newly added items and items that have been removed from the inventory. Following the newly added items allows me to stay on top of any preorders that I’m interested in. It’s also a way to learn about licenses that I might have missed. If something is removed from the inventory, it’s a good sign that it has gone very out of print and that you should find a copy sooner rather than later if you want one.

Another great way to save money is through the Got Anime? purchasing club. Right now, a yearly membership only costs $12. Once I started regularly purchasing manga and other goods from Right Stuf, a Got Anime? membership was one of the first things I bought. The membership provides an additional 10% off of almost everything that Right Stuf carries and stacks with other coupons and discounts. If you think you’ll spend at least $120 at Right Stuf over the course of one year, a Got Anime? membership is a must. In addition to the 10% discount, you will also receive exclusive coupons, special promotions, and an extended period for returns should you need it.

The final thing I would like to mention about Right Stuf is its customer satisfaction team. Right Stuf has the absolute best customer service that I have ever worked with. The team members are prompt, courteous, knowledgeable, and extremely helpful. On different occasions I have contacted Right Stuf by phone, Twitter, e-mail, and through the online contact form and have been very satisfied with the service that I received each time. During business hours, live chat is also available. The team is more than happy to answer general questions about the store’s inventory. They also take suggestions and requests, and go above and beyond to find solutions to any problems encountered with an order. Seriously, in my experience, the customer service at Right Stuf has been amazing.

Quick Tips for Finding Manga at Right Stuf
1) Pay attention to product availability when ordering.
2) Time purchases to take advantage of multiple sales and offers.
3) Keep an eye on the Recent Changes page and weekly newsletter.
4) If you buy enough, consider getting a Got Anime? membership.
5) Have a problem or question? Don’t be afraid to contact customer service.

Finding Manga: Akadot Retail

If you’re a fan of yaoi, I’m sure that you are already well aware of Digital Manga Publishing. But did you know about its affiliate Akadot Retail? For the longest time I didn’t, but now it’s my go to place when I’m looking to buy a title published by Digital Manga.

Of course, Akadot Retail actually sells much more than just manga from Digital Manga, including merchandise directly from Japan, art supplies, artwork, and more. Poke around the site a little and you’ll see what I mean. A lot of what they sell is outside of my personal areas of expertise, and so I’ll just be talking about finding and buying manga here. More specifically, I’ll be covering the manga available in English. Akadot Retail carries and imports plenty of Japanese manga, but my Japanese isn’t good enough yet to take advantage of that.

While many people hear “Digital Manga” and automatically think “yaoi manga,” the company actually publishes plenty of non-yaoi material, and non-manga material for that matter. This is also available to purchase through Akadot Retail. For example, I picked up quite a few volumes of Berserk (which Digital Manga co-publishes with Dark Horse Comics) from Akadot Retail. Akadot Retail also stocks a limited amount of manga in English from other publishers; oftentimes these titles are out of print or otherwise hard to find.

The prices Akadot Retail are some of the best that I’ve seen. This is especially true for the Digital Manga titles, which is understandable, but it is not limited to those. The discounts can be tremendous—there are plenty of books available for only $4 and hundreds that are 50% or more off their cover price. And this isn’t just the backlist I’m talking about here—even the newer titles are available at a significant discounts. Often, the newest books from Digital Manga are available at Akadot Retail before they’re available at other retailers, sometime even months in advance. Akadot Retail also puts together some nice bundles. One of the best ways to stay up to date with current sales and newly available items is to sign up for Akadot Retail‘s weekly newsletter.

For some reason, the search function at the Akadot Retail website does not work nearly as well as I want it to. I don’t really trust the searches at this point—I’ve done too many for books that I know are in the catalog that aren’t returned in the results. Fortunately, the catalog is small enough, and organized well enough, that it’s not too much trouble to simply browse. Unfortunately, you’re not able to browse the entire catalog all at once, but must start in a specific category. I don’t believe it is possible to search by creator on Akadot Retail (except for a couple of select creators who have earned their own categories in the catalog), but titles, product names, and ISBNs all seem to be indexed. I also appreciate being able to sort by Name, Discount, Price, or Newest.

One trick that I’ve discovered to finding things on Akadot Retail is to actually use the Digital Manga website since they are integrated to a small extent. Any book that is available to order from Akadot Retail has a link included towards the bottom of its description page. Additionally, it’s possible to search by creator on the Digital Manga website. Of course, this trick only works for books published by Digital Manga. You won’t be able to find titles from other publishers available at Akadot Retail using this method.

Free shipping is available for orders placed in the United States that reach a specified dollar amount. However, the target price changes on an irregular basis (today it’s $40, but I’ve seen less). Because of this, when I’m thinking of placing an order at Akadot Retail, I always make sure to check the amount that currently qualifies for free shipping on the FAQ page. Free shipping is only available in the United States, but Akadot Retail also ships internationally. Depending which country you live in, you may be limited in your payment options, but PayPal is always valid.

Quick Tips for Finding Manga at Akadot Retail
1) Remember, Akadot Retail sells more than yaoi, manga, and Digital Manga
2) The best place to get Digital Manga titles for the best price, and soonest
3) Sign up for the weekly newsletter to keep up with the latest deals and inventory
4) Browsing the catalog is often more effective than searching it
5) Check to see what the current target price for free shipping is

Finding Manga: Borders

JULY 2011 UPDATE: Borders is currently undergoing liquidation and all Borders stores are expected to close by the end of September 2011

 As I write this, it is no secret that Borders is in some trouble. The most recent developments include Diamond—the largest comic and manga distributor for North America—suspending shipments to the stores. (You can read more about this at Robot 6: Diamond puts Borders on hold.) Daniella Orihuela-Gruber at All About Manga has already written an excellent post called Get Thee to a Borders! about why you should consider buying at Borders (especially right now) and so instead I’m going to discuss a bit about how to most effectively buy at Borders.

I love Borders so I’m hoping they pull through, work things out with Diamond, and stick around for a while longer. Yes, it’s a chain (albeit a locally based one for me), but it’s also one of the few remaining physical bookstores that I have available to me. And with careful coordination of rewards and coupons, Borders easily has some of the best deals (20%-50% off on a regular basis), frequently beating out even Amazon, especially when it comes to buying manga. Borders stores have a great selection when it comes to manga and they’re not afraid to stock more obscure or mature titles. Most things you can’t find on their shelves can be ordered for you or can be ordered from them online. Lately, almost all of my new manga purchases have been from Borders stores.

Borders currently has two rewards programs—Borders Rewards and Borders Rewards Plus (A quick breakdown and comparison of the two can be found here.) If you spend $195 or more a year on books, manga or otherwise, you should definitely sign up for the Borders Rewards Plus program which costs $20. If you spend less than that in a year, you should probably just stick with the free Borders Rewards program although the Plus program might still be worth considering. What I love most about the Plus program (yes, I signed up for it as soon as I could) is free shipping on all online orders and the fact that I automatically get 10% off my book purchases in addition to any other coupons and discounts I might use. And even if you’re not using the Plus program, you can always get free shipping by having your order shipped to a local store and picking it up there.

One of the features of the Borders website is that it allows an inventory check of stores which indicates the stores near any given zip code that should have a particular item in stock. And once you’ve located a book you want at a store you want you can place an online reservation and have it held for you. I use this feature all the time when I’m in a hurry and won’t have time to browse in the store myself or if I’m worried they might sell out before I can get to the store. One word of advice: when searching the Borders database by ISBN, make sure to remove all hyphens, otherwise the search results returned will not be accurate. Searching by title or author usually works pretty well.

In addition to being an online retailer, Borders also has physical stores. This means you can actually see, sample, and touch the books, something that you can’t do very well or at all when browsing online. The potential for serendipitous finds it much higher, too. All off the Borders stores that I have been in have a pretty decent manga section and selection. If you’re having trouble locating the section, most of the stores have placed the manga and graphic novels near the teen/young adult department. Many stores have also started shelving anime near or with the manga. Light novels are sometimes shelved in amongst the manga but sometimes you’ll find them in the fiction or genre sections of the store. Generally speaking, manga at Borders is shelved by title although if you can’t find something you’re looking for, check under the creators’ names, too. You probably won’t see a lot of older titles (although there are exceptions), but most new releases and popular series are readily available. And as I previously mentioned, if you can’t find it in the store, you can order it online and still take advantage of most discounts.

Quick Tips for Finding Manga at Borders
1) Sign up for one of the Borders Rewards programs
2) Take advantage of inventory searches and online reservations
3) Remove hyphens when searching ISBNs online
4) Browse shelves by titles first, then by creators
5) Can’t find it in the store? Order it online and still get a great deal.

Finding Manga:

My first ever online purchase was made through and ever since then the site has been one of my favorite places to buy used and out of print books. (I also happen sell manga and other books through, although that’s a little beside the point.) was founded in 1999 and was purchased by eBay in 2000. Currently, requires the buyer to have a credit card in order to make purchases.

When it comes to comics, graphic novels, and manga,‘s product database leaves a bit to be desired. Often, titles do not exactly match up with their appropriate ISBNs; this is particularly problematic when dealing with a series where the individual volumes are identified by number rather than a unique title (which is usually the case for manga). Fortunately, the database has improved over the last couple years, but it’s still not perfect.

When I buy manga on, I always search by ISBN since it tends to be correct more often than the listed title. In my experience, sellers are also more likely to list a book by its ISBN rather than its title. If I don’t know the ISBN of the book I’m looking for, I usually pull the information from the publisher’s website or, which has a better (but still imperfect) database. takes the condition ratings of items very seriously and will crack down on sellers, so you can be confident that a book listed as “like new” actually is like new. However, it is still a good idea to read any comments a seller has made about a particular listing. It is also a good idea to look at a seller’s feedback. While is very good in helping settle disputes, it’s always better not to have to deal with a bad situation or seller to begin with.

One of my favorite things about is that it automatically grants combined shipping rates for multiple purchases made from one seller. The site recently introduced the Buying Wizard feature which makes finding these items even easier since it does the legwork for you. It’s still in beta, but in my experience it has been very accurate in most cases and saves a ton of time (believe me, I know.) can be a great place to find out of print titles for reasonable prices, which is what I usually end up buying through the site. The best manga prices on are generally going to be for older and out of print materials as well as for super popular series. Once you take into consideration shipping, newer manga will usually end up costing cover price or more. If you’re looking for new releases, I recommend buying through a local brick and mortar store first and online stores second to better support the creative teams and let the publishers know what’s selling.

Quick Tips for Finding Manga at
1) Search by ISBN
2) Read the comments about a listing
3) Pay attention to seller’s ratings
4) Take advantage of the Buying Wizard
5) Don’t forget to account for shipping