manga bookshelf

Manga Bookshelf Survey Results

A number of readers have expressed interest in seeing the full results of our recent reader survey, so here we are! We’ll talk a bit about what it all means in a moment, but first, the results:


Enough with the graphics! What does it all mean?

A general overview of the survey paints the following picture of the average Manga Bookshelf reader:

You’re most likely to be an adult woman: 90% of our readership is adults over the age of 22 (past college undergraduate age), and 48% are over 30. 65% are women and girls—that’s nearly twice the amount of our male readership.

You buy a lot of manga: Over 75% of our readers report buying between 1-20 volumes of manga a month, with 16% buying more, and just a few reporting that they don’t buy any at all in a typical month. Some readers reported that they borrow most of their manga from the library, or that they tend to buy sporadically, in binges, or mainly at conventions. One reader admitted to reading scanlations because manga isn’t available to buy in her home country (Pakistan).

You’re not yet sold on digital: Digital manga is a sadder tale, with over 60% reporting that none of their purchases is likely to be digital, though the number of digital buyers is still at 35%. Some “other” responses included readers who mainly buy their manga in print but go digital for other comics, and some who said that they don’t buy any now, but had JManga accounts before the site closed. Some are waiting for their favorite out of print manga to turn up digitally.

You’re probably not buying Naruto: In terms of manga demographic categories, shoujo and seinen are readers’ top choices, both beating out shounen manga, which tends to include the mainstream powerhouses (Naruto, Bleach), while categories like josei, boys’ love, and yuri all make strong showings as well. “Other” responses included classic manga, gekiga, “fifth column” and manhwa.

You probably are buying from Vertical: Publisher preferences skew pretty closely to the number of releases, with prolific companies like Viz Media and Yen Press coming out on top. Though it’s notable that Vertical, a relatively small publisher, is heavily patronized by our readership (and actually ranked above Kodansha Comics for quite a while over the course of the poll). One major omission on our part was Drawn & Quarterly, which received a number of “other” mentions, along with a few mentions of companies like PictureBox and Udon, some defunct North American publishers, European publishers like Carlsen and Tokyopop Deutschland, and imports straight from Japan.

It’s probably not surprising that our readership differs significantly from that seen in the recent poll at Comics Should Be Good, at least in terms of gender demographics, given our manga-specific focus and our female-heavy roster of contributors. It perhaps naturally follows that our readers are less hooked on the most mainstream manga series (shounen) than CBR/CSBG’s readers are on the closest western comics equivalent (superheroes), though clearly we’re all slow to take to digital distribution.

Did you miss out on participating in our reader survey? Do you have thoughts about the results? Leave your comments below!

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  1. Erica Friedman says:

    But what’s our name?

  2. Why the third option on the gender question? I didn’t understand why that was needed as if gender is that fluid than why even bother listing it I could just as simply list myself identification as house plant or something and it would make as much sense because you’ve just erased an defineing characteristic of a person.
    Again I just found that part of the survey odd and honestly unneeded as it’s just perpetuating the supposed normalcy of a deviant subculture. Although this all comes from one’s presuppositions my presuppositions come from The Bible those who would believe in the concept of a “transgender identity” are thus unbiblical and wrong to be blunt.

    • Hi Aaron. We at Manga Bookshelf believe that non-binary gender is perfectly normal and that it applies to a good number of people, who would feel that by forcing them to choose a gender that does not apply to them, rather than acknowledging them as they are, that then you would be erasing a defining characteristic of their person. That is our stance here at Manga Bookshelf, and we’ll stick by that.

      Calling people who do not fit into the gender binary “deviant” violates Manga Bookshelf’s comment policy, so please do not pursue this line of discussion any further.


      • Thank you for your firm-hand with modding, Melinda. I’m happy to count Manga Bookshelf as one of the few sites where “don’t read the comments” does not apply, and would be sad if that ever changed.

      • I have a feeling that some people picked non-binary without knowing what it meant.

  3. I can’t remember whether I chose that I buy digital manga or not, but I do hope for a time when I can buy entirely digital. I recently used a work-around on iTunes Japan whereby if you pay with an iTunes giftcard you can make purchases even outside the country (usually you have to pay by credit card and iTunes will only accept credit cards registered in the country in question). Unlike in the US where digital manga is scattered through a dozen websites and apps, there is a large selection of manga available in the iTunes store in Japan.

    While it’s a slight annoyance to have to ask my friend to buy me a gift card and then pay her back, the fact that the manga is so much cheaper more than makes up for it. I no longer have any truly local Japanese used bookstores near me (the closest is 20 miles away and I don’t own a car) and full-priced imported manga is close to $8 a volume now due to the dollar being low and Japanese manga prices having gone up somewhat (there was a time when even new manga was only $5 a volume, but alas, those days are gone), whereas the cover price is around 400 yen/$4, which is exactly what I pay in the iTunes store.

  4. I forgot to mention PictureBox when I took the survey. I should have since they put out the wonderful The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame this year that got my attention. I also didn’t bother with listing non-English companies in the other publisher category since this is an English language site, so I didn’t think it was relevant. I probably purchase the same number if not more non-English volumes every month.
    The results on digital buying habits don’t surprise me too much. I find few eBooks I would buy despite adopting the idea early. I barely purchase from VIZ because of their long history of censorship. Likewise Apple and Amazon both have unclear content standards that give a lot people, not just manga publishers and artists trouble in the U.S.. Vertical has just started out with eBooks but, has yet to release manga on Nook as far as I know. Nearly every manga publisher ignores the much more global Kobo platform. As for DMP and Gen’s digital editions, I’ve either stopped buying altogether or simply ignore them because of the quality. Yen Press does a good job but, with such nice printed versions for something like Thermae Romae I’m not going to purchase a digital edition. SuBLime is good as well but, a niche genre publisher. At least Animate U.S.A has used them to break away from publishing on Kindle exclusively. And I’ve never supported a model like JManga for the simple reason of exactly what happened. The company goes away and so does your library. Did I miss anybody publishing digitally? Still, I do wish for eBooks to be better and more popular for manga in the future. The format is a lot more convenient.

  5. I just wanted to say that I found this blog back in February and I really love it. It has done exactly what I was hoping for; it introduced me to new (and old) manga and manhwa that I would love to read. Unfortunately some of them are out of print. It was always hard for me to find new manga that I thought I might like and this blog has been fantastic. Not only does it have posts on what new manga are coming out each week, but it has interesting discussions, reviews, and much more. I love it.

    I really like this blog and I’m really glad that you keep it going. There’s always something new and interesting to read on this site and I’m happy that I found it. Thanks everyone for having a great blog/blogs on a niche subject. ^_^


  1. […] Who reads Manga Bookshelf, and what manga do they like? Melinda Beasi presents the results of their recent survey. […]

  2. […] online, Manga Bookshelf has published the results from its recent reader survey. I find this sort of data fascinating, so I was very glad that they decided to share it! Finally, […]

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