Should people rely on bookstores as a source of new reading material to the point where they never buy manga?
Now here’s a unique quandary:
…If you want the manga or the book then buy it. If you don’t want it then leave it alone for other customers to buy if they so desire. It’s rude to all involved to sit there on the floor and read without buying. It’s one thing to open a book and flip a couple pages to check out a new title to see if you might want to buy it or not…but it’s not a library. – ANN user AkumaChef
So, the question is: should people use stores that sell manga to sit on the floor and read the content without paying?
I’m kind of torn on this. On one hand, I know that #brokestudentlife (if that’s a legitimate hashtag) and that, paired with my experience volunteering for libraries, means I see no problem with capitalising on any opportunity to get your hands on a niche product for free. On the other, buying physical volumes keeps the manga ecosystem going and you own whatever you buy in Entertaining Dead Tree Format, so it’s a win-win…if you have the money. Manga these days ain’t cheap and ain’t that easily yellowed like the days of Borders, y’know.
You also hear about people sitting around reading manga in stores in Japan, so I think it might be a difference in consumption culture on that part. Manga, as a product, is made to be consumed easily on public transport and other places where you might get bored on (normally) a weekly or monthly basis. This encourages people to keep up with the story in case they fall behind, which feeds back into the idea of “broke people gotta pay for other stuff, too”. By the time it’s published in Dead Tree Format, it’s already a few months behind – or even worse, the next volume doesn’t come at all…
On a related note, you can’t flip open those shrink-wrapped or plastic-wrapped books (which happens with yaoi/BL titles such as A Strange and Mystifying Story). Thus, you really need to know what you’re after for those affected titles.
Sidebar: I’ve never seen a shrink-wrapped yuri/GL/other adult manga title before – I am merely speaking from my own experiences and observations of bookstores – so if you have anything to contribute on those, then feel free to.
However, the culture around reading, whether it be manga, comics or novels, seems to be changing – the local manga store for my area has a cafe that sells small cakes and the like. It even offers chairs right next to the artbooks and the manga, as if to incentivise reading without paying (and even possibly offers a way to capitalise standing in a bookstore when your feet ache). Just as a point of contention though, it is also about 15 minutes’ walk from the nearest library, which also offers manga and takes requests from members…
So should booksellers crack down on readers who loiter around the shelves simply because they want to read the new manga, or should they invite people in with the knowledge they might be getting new customers? Should libraries fulfil this role instead? I don’t think anyone’s ever posed this question before, so it’ll be interesting to see what you guys think.