Here’s the tl;dr version:
- Best online store for paper and digital manga: honto
- Several shipping options available.
- Site offers plenty of coupons, discounts, and points which cuts down the cost of your order, more for digital books but they do offer promotions for paper books as well.
- Helpful advice for registering at honto: Without Restraints
- Digital readers are available for PC, iPhone/iPad, and Android devices; however you need to register at iTunes Japan or Google Play Japan to install their digital reader.
Here’s my detailed post for anyone interested in the long version:
This is obviously just my personal opinion, but I highly recommend honto for buying both print and digital versions of manga, light novels, magazines, and other books. I’ve been a customer for almost three years now and have placed over 40 orders (printed materials)… yes, that’s slightly over one order per month, lol. It’s always a good day when my order arrives each month.😉 Out of the 40+ orders that I’ve placed, only one got mixed up in the mail and I got a full refund when it was returned to honto.
The honto site has an extensive variety of manga, light novels, and magazines, both print and digital. Not everything is available digitally, but it seems like the trend towards digital is starting to catch on. Several shoujo and josei manga magazines, including Dessert, Bessatsu Friend, Be Love, Aria, and Kiss are now available in digital, yay! The digital version of Nakayoshi starts in June.
There are several different shipping options available, so you are able to weigh the shipping cost vs. the delivery time and decide which option works best for you. I started off with the cheapest option, shipping by boat, but I now use SAL instead. It’s about double the shipping cost, but a lot faster than by boat, which took around 6 – 8 weeks to arrive. On average, I pay around 1200 – 1400 yen to ship 6 – 7 manga/light novels and my order usually arrives in 10 – 14 days (I live in the United States).
I buy a lot of digital books as well… latest count is 539 books, lol. Well, some of them are free, promo versions, so the count is probably closer to 450. Besides saving on shipping costs, the digital books are usually cheaper than the same paper version and honto has so many discounts, coupons, and points tied to digital orders which can really bring the price down. For instance, several months ago, they ran a 99 yen special on light novels (digital), so I ended up buying over 20 books for the cost of less than $18. Right now, they are running a Golden Week special, where you can earn 20x the points each day from May 1 – 7 (different category of books is selected every day). If you purchased books on at least three different days, you will get another coupon for 50x the points to use later in the month. Normally, it’s 1 point for every 100 yen, so 50x the points adds up!🙂 You can use the points you earn as “cash”… if your total order is 2500 yen and you have 800 points, you can deduct that from the total amount to equal 1700 yen. So what are you waiting for? lol
I heard that it can be tricky to register at honto, because you need a Japan address. I was a former bk1 customer, so when bk1 and honto merged, my account info carried over. Fortunately, there is a very helpful guide on how to sign up at honto, which can be found here: Without Restraints.
As for reading the digital books, there are readers available for PC, iPhone/iPad, and Android devices. Installing the PC version is a no-brainer, just download from their site and follow the installation instructions. Unfortunately for iPhone/iPad and Android devices, the digital reader is only available for download in their Japan stores. However, there are ways around that! For iPhone/iPad, you need to set up an iTunes Japan account… you can do that by signing up with a different email address from your regular iTunes account. I forgot the exact instructions, but if you Google how to set up another iTunes account, there is plenty of helpful advice available. For Android devices, I downloaded the TunnelBear app (easy-to-use VPN client) to access the Google Play Japan store.