I’m taking a brief break from compulsively consuming British mysteries on TV (have recently blown through all of Agatha Christie’s Marple, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Vera, and most of Blue Murder) for a bit of comic reading. I used to buy a lot of manga. Because I’m a librarian, I feel duty bound to acquire things as legally as possible. The recent death of many manga publishers killed off a big chunk of my reading habits. When Borders closed, I stopped being able to wander around and check out new titles.
As much as Amazon enjoys bathing books and delivering them to my door for my pleasure, I’m afraid I suck at finding new-to-me manga on their site. Non-fiction, sure. Random food items and socks? Yes. But manga? No.
The only major manga publishers that I could think of were Viz and DMP. I knew Viz was probably still mostly focusing on mainstream stuff (they published Bleach, I think, although if I’m wrong I’m sure a thousand fiery fans will correct me…) and I’m pretty sure if I slouched over to Barnes and Noble, I could peer moodily at the shelves to see if anything of theirs would appeal. But DMP now, DMP I’d heard had bought most everybody else’s back catalog and also done…some kind of odd deal with scanlation groups or something. Not that I know any scanlators. Or even people who know people who know scanlators. Ahem.
Anyway, I have often enjoyed DMP books. Barnes and Noble never really carried them, which is another reason I shopped at Borders. So I decided to do a bit of Googling to see if what I’d heard was true and that I could lawfully buy my manporn online.
It is true!
For at least some titles, anyway. Which is why I immediately thought: I must tell the whole world about this! Readers of HU must know immediately!
But first, I had to test it out. For science! The things I do for this blog, seriously. My heart is deep and wide.
So I trotted over to DMP’s site, Digital Manga Publishing books. Although let’s be honest. DMP/Akadot have a bunch of related sites, and I’m not that great at keeping them straight. But this one seems to have all of DMP’s various imprints together, both regular titles (many of them with waaaaay more camel toe than I care for, thanks) and yaoi-themed.
I surfed around the different new releases and all the Vampire Hunter D stuff (it’s always bored me, sorry). I kept noticing a little green plus sign that says eManga.
So I wandered over there. It’s another DMP-run site and it has lots and lots of titles. A couple hundred at least. Some old manga that I’d enjoyed in the past and some new stuff I hadn’t read before. I poked around until I found a title that looked promising. (Blue Sheep Reverie Vol. 1 by Makoto Tateno, in case anyone cares.)
This is the basic screen. Yeah, pretty straightforward. On the regular monitor, it was nearly readable, but on my laptop (a fancy 17″ by the way, not a small netbook) it was hopeless. I’m ridiculously nearsighted, even with my glasses.
I tried zooming, and that works OK, but it made it hard to read the whole page, because you have to move down and up and then forward, blah blah blah. Easy in book form, harder in electronic.
They’ve got a neat feature that takes care of that, though. It’s in the upper right corner where it says 1 page. You can also read 2 pages (yeah right, with my eyes? please) or panel. When I picked panel, I discovered it grays out most of the page, and moves the clear, brighter (and larger, if you zoom) panel in the center. When you click ‘next’ it moves to the next panel and ‘prev’ moves back. It’s smart about the right-to-left and panel top to bottom, too. Very cool!
But this wouldn’t be HU if I didn’t complain bitterly about something, so I thought I’d say that while I enjoyed the preview, I was irritated to discover that one of the titles I’d seen on the DMP site with the eManga link and then tried to buy is not actually readable/purchasable on eManga. It’s there, yes, but you can’t buy it. Color me cranky.
If it’s coming soon, say so. If I can only purchase it in paper, tell me that.
Some of the titles available on eManga are from Harlequin. At first I thought it must just a similar name, but the colors are the same and it’s got that weird diamond thing going on. Startling. But whatever. I wouldn’t care except the copy-editing on the covers is off. The Amalfi Braide for the Amalfi Bride. In what appears to be Arial font. Yes, OK, it’s gotta be actual Harlequin because I recognized some of the authors from their romance titles. Do a better copy-editing job and get some nicer covers.
The other (small, honest!) complaint I have is that the books list ‘points’ beside them. At first I thought this was an ill-advised savings/coupon thing–you know, like buy so many books worth so many points and get a free read? No, turns out not. You buy “points” and then you spend “points” to read various titles. There’s probably good reasons for it (cut down on credit card fees, maybe) but it was odd to see it that way.
But overall, I’m glad to see this site. DMP is a company with a history old enough that I’d buy from them. They have a way to preview titles, and they’ve got a decent track record of actually continually to put out titles until a series is finished (bitter, who me?). I noticed that a couple authors I’ve enjoyed have a series there. I’ll definitely be getting some manga and enjoying them. I hope it’s a successful venture and that they’re able to make more titles available soon.