Digital Manga company JManga has announced today that the company is folding and closing up shop on May 30th, 2013. This basically means all of the stuff you purchased will disappear completely and you will not have access to it. The company has also ceased selling its in-app currency, which is used to purchase content. Customers will have until March 26th use all of their credits to purchase manga, or exchange them for Amazon Gift Cards.
JManga was being run by Toppan Printing of America (a subsidiary of the Japanese Printer/Publisher Toppan). It was a project with 39 different Japanese Manga companies supporting it, but was only available in North America. The beleaguered company failed to attract really hot titles because of the lack of publisher support for its subscription model.
JManga was also very slow in adopting mobile apps for Android and never did a proper iOS version. The credit system often charged users exorbitant amounts of money for comics that never truly belonged to you. The ones you bought were streamed and not stored locally, which hampers users who purchased stuff from them, only to lose it all when the company goes out of business.
Manga users are accustomed to pirating their content. A Google search for “manga” returns seven “scanlation” aggregators and zero manga publishers in the top ten, while searches for “comics,” “books,” and “graphic novels” turn up stores and publisher sites, and even a search for “anime” turns up mostly legitimate sites. Many pirates are simply scanning their purchased copies and digitizing them, and most people tend not to pay the publishers directly. In retrospect, Gabe Newell said piracy is a service problem not a pricing problem and as its stands the service for providing manga outside of japan has been mostly complete garbage, it seems that scanlators have been doing a far superior job so far.
Many manga users and fans saw the writing on the wall with this company. When it shuts down, most users will tend to gravitate towards Viz Manga and Yen Press for their needs.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.