Proceed to checkout

And now, for no real reason other than I felt like writing about it and the subject kind of came up in the comments following Danielle Leigh’s latest Manga Before Flowers column, a brief look at what I buy where:

At the local comic shop: My most regular purchases at the local comic shop are books that I suspect won’t show up in a chain bookstore (manga that’s rated for mature audiences or books from smaller publishes that don’t seem to have quite achieved bookstore saturation). Most of my comic shop purchases are the result of pre-orders, just because the local shop is primarily focused on super-hero comics so I generally can’t wander in and find something to my taste. They’re very accommodating in terms of pre-orders and re-orders, which compensates for limited use as a place to browse.

At the bookstore: My purchases at Borders, Barnes & Noble, and so on are fairly random. I tend to either buy really mainstream shônen or shôjo titles, because I know they’ll be readily available and I can use my discount card. Sometimes I’ll special-order a particular book from the local Barnes & Noble if I really like it and want to trick them into ordering additional shelf copies. I’ll also buy other books from publishers like Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, and so on, usually based on word of mouth (or blog).

Online: I almost always use Amazon, as I like the discount and the free shipping. Amazon is kind of the “everything else” dumping ground… books I wasn’t sufficiently certain I’d enjoy but was later persuaded to look into via word of mouth (or blog), manga over the $10 point (but never under, because why pay full price when I can get it for 10% off at a brick-and-mortar shop?), stuff that I’d categorize as expensive (like One Thousand Years of Manga) and “when all else fails” books that I can’t find at a comic shop or a chain bookstore. (Yay! Amazon carries Shirtlifter!) Online shopping is convenient and often cheaper, but it still ends up being my court of last resort more often than not.

27 Responses to Proceed to checkout

  1. John Jakala says:

    Hmm, my preference for book buying venues is completely inverted from yours: I almost always buy online, simply because it’s more convenient for me, and I generally can find coupons for an additional 25% off at (which, on top of my member discount and cheaper online prices, ends up leading to some very good bargains). Next would be bookstores, and a distant last would be comic shops. I can’t even remember the last time I set foot in a comic shop, much less purchased anything there.

  2. davidpwelsh says:

    I’m sorely tempted by that Discount Comic Book Service, but I’m too prone to immediate gratification to commit to it. I like bookstores because I like browsing and, from time to time, cups of overpriced coffee. If I didn’t like the people who ran the local comic shop, I probably wouldn’t rely on it for much of anything, to be honest.

  3. Dave White says:

    Fortunately, Pittsburgh has several great comic shops, so I can afford to have weird buying habits. I tend to buy all my mainstream stuff at one comic shop, all my alternative/indepedent/European stuff at a different comic shop, and all my manga at Borders (it helps that one of my friends is the manager).

    I almost never buy anything online unless I a) I know I have to have it, and b) I can’t find it anywhere else. I like having the ability to leaf through books before buying them. It saves me a lot of aggrivation.

  4. Chloe says:

    I went and bought myself an Amazon Prime subscription..
    ..and that, of course, was the beginning of the end. All the freeb 2 day shipping I want makes it mighty attractive to sit home and wait for the books to come to me, not vice versa. Only downside is that I have to be absolutely sure of what I’m looking for, as otherwise it has to be shipped back. [This is the part where being a manga critic qualifies as a life skill.]

  5. danielle leigh says:

    *Before* I worked at a comic book store, I tended to divide my purchases between a local chain bookstore, an independent local bookstore and my local comic bookstore (resorting to on-line for manga over the 10 dollar price point to get a very nice discount via

    The local chain bookstore — superpopular Viz, Tokyopop, Del Rey titles.
    The local independent bookstore — mature titles (any yaoi title I read) or say Parasyte, Mushishi, Kurosagi, etc.
    The local comic book stores — titles that I want on shipment day!!! Like right now!!! (i.e. Fruits Baskets, After School Nightmare, Eden).
    Amazon — With the Light, etc.

    But now I work for credit at the LCBS so I pre-order everything from there. And occasionally allow myself an impulse purchase at the ind. bookstore or the chain bookstore. It is almost as if I am trying to discover how many local businesses I can support with my love of manga…

  6. davidpwelsh says:

    Dave: I like comic shopping in Pittsburgh, because the shop with the most interesting selection is only a block away from a really good Indian restaurant. And a short drive from a really good Thai restaurant. And a slightly longer drive from a Whole Foods near a Borders. It’s probably just as well that I don’t live there.

  7. Dave White says:

    Wait, which store – Eides, Phantom or Copacetic? All three could conceivably fit the bill…

  8. davidpwelsh says:

    Phantom, I think? The one near the museum? Now I need to go to Eides and Copacetic, don’t I?

  9. I started out ordering through Previews through my LCS, and getting back issues from and/or the Barnes & Noble. After our LCS screwed up our order for the 10th time, we went online and found a place that gave 30% off manga from the Previews orders. For that savings, I don’t mind waiting. and have become my places for back issues. I love the 4 for 3 deals at Amazon.

  10. thirstygirl says:

    I’m based in New Zealand so we have slightly different availabilities which affects my buying strategy.

    1-NZ based internet bookshop. Generally fantastic selection and good prices. CHEAP fast shipping.
    2-the local manga shop. i get all my manwha from there, most of my shonen series plus the occasional volumes that I know they order for me. Nice staff, good selection, stuff turns up quickly, downside is some of their books can cost 12NZD more than option 1. I go between supporting the local retailer and more manga for my money.
    3-Borders [think B&N] only if they have a really good discount coupon AND their large magnetic tags can be easily removed. This happens in 1 vol out of 4. Often I peruse the books and see if i want to buy a series nd end up purchasing from either 1 or 2 because the magnetic strips distort the spines AND cover up to a quarter of a panel.
    4-Amazon. Good for series which are largely out of print. [aka things published by CMP] The shipping, OW the cost and the slowness pains me and I can only endure it as a last resort.

  11. Huff says:

    Most of my shopping gets done at my comic book store, both American/Euro comics and manga. From Marvel to Fantagraphics and even the insanely obscure Picturebox and Fanfare they carry nearly every kind of comic imaginable, are incredibly newbie friendly (hell, most of their employees are girls) and have the best manga selection I’ve seen in Greater Boston. Rather give my money to this kind of store than a corporate giant. But when I’m in Borders I’ll often pick up TPBs if I’m not buying DVDs or books. Their weekly coupons makes the more expensive ones a lot easier on my wallet.

  12. Dave White says:

    Well, if you do go, Eides’ Entertainment is at the edge of the Strip district just out of Downtown – it’s best known as a record store but there’s a comic store in the basement. They’ve got a great back issue selection but they’re not so hot with the recent issues.

    The Copacetic Comics Company is a tiny, tiny store in Squirrel Hill that specializes in independent/alternative/art comics. It can be a deadly blow to your budget, because once the owner gets to know your tastes he’ll have several recommendations for you each time you visit. So you may go in to buy, say, the latest volume of Complete Peanuts only to walk out with a few other comics and a pile of minis as well.

  13. […] So where do you buy your comics: the comics shop, the bookstore or online? David Welsh ‘fesses […]

  14. davidpwelsh says:

    Oh, mentioning minis is really a draw for Copacetic. There are virtually none to be found near me, so I should definitely pay them a visit.

  15. Sebastian says:

    For me, in Germany, it’s like this:

    * German-language mangas and German comics I buy at my German LCS “Kult Comics”. They’re closest, but don’t carry a reasonable selection of imported US comics.

    * English-language floppies and English-language trades without ISBN I buy at my US-import LCS “Nic’s Comics”. Everything is preordered. I go through the complete Previews catalogue each month and make up a list for my retailer of the things I want to buy in 2-4 months. I pay 1 Euro for the Dollar there, which is not the cheapest rate around (current exchange rate is around 66 Euro-cents for the Dollar), but the store is located very conveniently and the retailer is very friendly and reliable. Things that Diamond forgets to ship (a regular occurrence, sadly) I order online from Midtown Comics later or directly from the respective publishers. I also sometimes order back-issues from Nostalgia Zone, Mile High Comics and German online retailer Black Dog.

    * English-language trades and mangas with ISBN I buy online through German retailer BOL or, recently, sometimes through the British sites bookdepository or (UK titles tend to be cheaper there, as well as some high-priced US-comics). I do not use Amazon Germany, since it’s much too expensive (and they do not discount). I save roughly 30-40% over Amazon by using BOL, especially if I can make use of one of their 10%-off coupons (I pay about 55 Euro-cents for the Dollar then, with free shipping). Amazon has a lot of foreign stuff in stock and ships very quickly, but you pay for that convenience (the Mile High principle, I guess). BOL has almost no foreign titles in stock, but they’ll special-order anything in 2-3 weeks and their pricing reflects that.

    * French-language mangas and bandes dessineés I buy at a multitude of LCS’s in Liège, Brussels or Lille. I will not order any French comics online since the shipping is very high on BDs and those manga dust-jackets that are industry-standard in France are very easily damaged. I make those shopping trips once every 2-4 months.

    * Japanese-language manga I buy online at YesAsia. I also buy 2nd-hand manga at a local asian supermarket.

    * I also plan to buy some more Dutch comics in the future, and I guess I’ll buy those online.

    * Self-published comics I buy online directly from the creators.

  16. Josh Olive says:

    As owner of a very small brick-and-mortar comic book store, I’m surprised to see so few people commenting here who pick up their comics and trades primarily at their local comic shop – though this explains why so many comic book stores are closing down these days. Local comic book stores certainly aren’t perfect – mine sure isn’t – but it’s hard to beat the atmosphere and the camaraderie of a good local comic shop.

    Wednesdays at my comic book store are so much fun; all our Wednesday regulars will be in at some point or another, and most of them hang out for an hour or two, with all kinds of great conversations going on simultaneously. Wednesday is definitely my favorite day of the week. I can’t imagine picking up my comics from B&N or Borders or having them shipped to my house; I’d miss out on the fun of talking comics with all those other people who share a passion for them.

    If you’ve got a local comic shop or two in your area, please consider supporting them, even if they can’t compete with the big discount you might be able to find at an online store. It would be a sad thing for all comics fans to see the local stores disappear.

  17. davidpwelsh says:

    thirstygirl, I must pester you with questions, because that press release about the Viz/Madman partnership has me wondering: have New Zealand and Australia really gone without readily available Naruto, Nana and so on prior to this? Are any of them available at a bookstore or comic shop without some kind of horrendous import mark-up, or have you had to order them on-line? Is that the kind of thing you’re talking about when you mention your local manga shop?

  18. thirstygirl says:

    Until recently- about 2 years ago- the only manga that came in was imported. There were a couple of shops that would bring things in and they also dealt in american comics/figurines/card-games -the whole Genshiken-type geek-crossover setup. Madman did all the distributing for anime in our region and branched out into manga, distributing the Chuang Yi range. So you get different editions of the same series as the Viz ones- often a bit cheaper and further along in the series but the paper and binding aren’t as nice as the Viz version.

    Then Borders came to town and there has been a manga explosion as suddenly shojo was widely available. It’s still pretty expensive, even from Borders. Normal price is $20-25NZD for a Viz book, $28-35NZD for yaoi titles. For example, I have all the Nana that’s been published, and I am shaking my fist with rage that Viz has 4 month delays between volumes of Bleach because they are so busy pumping out Naruto, but my wall of manga represents a pretty serious capital outlay. [So far I’ve managed to restrain myself from reading the scanlated Bleach but it’s getting pretty close with another 30+ chapters having been released in Japan between vol 20 and now]

    So the Viz series are available. I know from speaking with the owner of my manga shop that they have been skating on thin ice with Viz constantly threatening to pull out and not ship to Aus/NZ any more. Borders don’t seem to have a problem but their shelves are never as up to date as the manga shop. My hope for the Viz/Madman partnership is that suddenly the Viz series will get cheaper/faster/assured supply, my fear is that it means that the Chuang Yi versions will be pulled off the shelves and we’ll be stuck with Viz’s leisurely publishing schedule for some series- Ouran High is up to 10 in Chuang Yi and 8 in the Viz edition.

  19. kilmoonie says:

    I buy 97% of my comics (and 100% of my weekly “pamphlets”) from my local comic book store. DJ Universal’s Comics in Studio City, CA. He gives 30% off of new comics for any customer that walks through the door. And I get anywhere from 15-30 books a week, so it adds up.

    I use AMAZON (prime membership) for all the other purchases. USUALLY large items, like Absolute editions and the like. But often for other trades that my guy doesn’t stock. And although my guy does give a healthy discount on trades as well, with Amazon’s discount, and the free shipping its hard to compete. (And I do struggle with this, as my guy deserves all the support he can get, but I’m human, and my money can only go so far, and some decisions need to be made.)


  20. […] Welsh discusses where he buys his manga at Precocious Curmudgeon, and lots of people chime in with their […]

  21. jun says:

    My buying venues are separated by publisher. I should note I have a prime membership with Amazon, with free shipping.

    Del Rey, DMP, Go!Comi, and Dark Horse: Amazon. All volumes discounted $1-2 off their cover price.

    Viz: Amazon. There’s no discount off the cover price, but they get things in stock a couple of weeks before their official release date, and I am an impatient person.

    Tokyopop: No Amazon discount here, either, and they also don’t get them in stock early. Our local Books-a-Million does, though. They usually get them in the weekend before their official release date and, as stated, I am impatient.

    CMX: No Amazon discount, no early shipping, and a very scant shelf presence in big chain stores. I get my CMX titles (and there are quite a few I follow) from a local comic book shop, where I save 10% on preorders.

  22. Rena says:

    I sporadically order online from, especially since I’m an anime fan and I’m a Got Anime? member (10% off any order). They have regular sales on publishers and they have free shipping for $50+ orders, too.

    Otherwise, I go to my local manga shop, which only recently started heavily stocking regular comics. I don’t get a discount there, but I like supporting the business. They recently started buying used manga and now sell whole series of used manga at 50% off. It’s a great way to pick up a series that I’ve heard great reviews about– for example, I got all four volumes of Antique Bakery for $28!

    I used to go to Borders a lot, but found that I really hated walking over all the kids to get to my books. That and their stocking of certain titles is haphazard at best.

  23. Ryan says:

    Ryan from Same Hat here. Interesting for us to stop and think about where we get our stuff.
    Previously I was more of a online shopper, but do to now living in San Francisco (and working in the Peninsula) I’ve managed to move to purchasing almost all of my books and comics at brick & mortar, non-chain stores. For non-comics/manga I try to always do the same, but I realize it’s a luxury based on being in a independent bookstore-saturated neighborhood and city. Here are mine for the sake of comparison.

    + The local independent bookstore — I get my indie titles from higher-end publishers at Books Inc, because they stock stuff on New Book Day (tuesday) rather than New Comics Day (wednesday): New D&Q hardcovers, Vertical manga and MOME.

    + The local comic book stores — I got to Lee’s for mainstream comics and manga titles that I want on shipment day! This lately is stuff like Fantagraphics titles, Omega the Unknown, RASL, All-star Superman, Buffy, etc

    + My favorite place ever, KINOKUNIYA in Japantown — This is where I buy basically ALL of my English and Japanese manga. The best-kept secret is that with Viz in town, Kinokuniya regularly gets their new releases (and some Tokyopop too) about 7-10 days before the local comic shops. They also will take custom orders of japanese titles for very little overhead– I got volumes of Umezu’s Baptism for 6 bucks each, etc.

    + The local chain bookstore — The only manga I get at Borders or B&N these days is an impulse buy of a mainstream shojo/shonen title I feel like I should read to catch up. This is how I started reading Monster & Case Closed, in retrospect.

    + Direct from the publisher site — Indie/art comics and manga (such as PictureBox, PressPop, Last Gasp books). It would be cheaper (and probably faster) to get these from Amazon, but PictureBox and Last Gasp have very easy to use and capable webstores that I’ve found very reliable.

  24. Foggi says:

    Stores I support and throw my money at!!

    ~Borders/B&N- I buy 90% of my manga here. I pre-order and back-order some volumes through Borders, and occasionally shop at B&N
    ~local comic store- I buy manga single-issues here multiple times a year.
    ~Right Stuf- I bought anime and manga as part of an irresistible deal, and was satisfied with the results.

  25. allages says:

    Hey, Huff, what’s your comics store? I live on the North Shore and was pretty turned off by every store I went to until Hub Comics opened in Somerville last month. And then I was amazed at how much manga I never see in the chains where I usually shop.

  26. Yeah, there’s rarely anything I buy online that isn’t from Amazon. I heard Borders was going out of business though, and it better not be true.

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