With the “Not-so-sudden” exodus of Jmanga already announced, it has only reinforced my own preference for manga in physical bound form. While I have not made any purchases with Jmanga or see why it gained the support it did, I feel that the tangible realm still has a lot to offer over such legal alternatives and illegal ones like scans. In fact, there are many favorable and desirable reasons why I still purchase/read publications in their corporeal formats. In the end, it all centers around one word: Experience.
Difference In Experience (Virtual vs Physical)
I can not exactly say that I dislike digitized literature and some of its beneficial effects such as: faster releases, easier/less costly distribution, and maybe even more friendly toward the environment. However, with benefits their must also be noteworthy sacrifices. One sacrifice in particular might be experience, which might differ person to person. Like with attending a sporting event vs watching it on T.V/listening in on the radio, it is nearly impossible (for some of us) for the experience to be received through multiple formats in the same way. In other words: experiences can not be easily replicated or substituted depending on the medium in question and certainly is not the same for everyone. Besides entertainment such as: movies, games, and others, publication is a more poignant medium that has various challenges to make it more palatable in the digital realm as well as legal. Mostly likely, in Jmanga’s case, it seemed like a business started with the goal to bring about a new experience in how we read manga, but in the end, the challenges were not fully addressed. Regardless, this is not a post about Jmanga and my poor speculation of why it might have failed. It is a reflective look at how something as small as experience (that you may or may not think about) can have a huge impact on the way we interact with what we consume and more importantly, how we consume it.
Levels Of Interaction And Accessibility
First off, when you read a book, you hold it in your hands and turn the pages as you take in the words and/or visuals. No duh, right? The reason why I bring up the point so elementary-like is because this is one major factor that bridges the gap in experience. Compared to when I am reading a book online or my rooted Nook Color (vs something hard copied), the tangible moments such as flipping pages or shifting the position of the book becomes less of a superficial feature and more of a sentimental attribute that I discovered adds to both my overall engagement and how I read. In addition, reading online or directly to my computer, this process is usually stilted and frustrating: using awkward presses on the keyboard or mouse just to get to the next page and in the process; making the reading far less rewarding and tiresome. In spite of this, interaction on this basic level usually does not impede my reading experience, but I rather just go the traditional route in general. It is bad enough when I find myself adjusting lighting, zooming size (if I am not in a browser), and figuring out navigation keys (browser or not) when reading physically is an end all and catch-all solution most of the time.
As Intended. Mostly (No additions or revisions)
I would say that a large portion of manga that I read is split into the following: 75% in English and the other 25% mostly in French and Japanese. With the English area lacking far behind that of the French market, I once in a while enjoy reading a physical copy in Japanese or French (which I am surprised to learn that my library has both) or in rare cases, just go for scans in English that have a wide variety to choose from. However, whatever the language, scans versions have a tendency to be very messy. You can usually find: extra pages that draws attention for new recruits, awkward watermarking, the removal of or missing pages (I.E: Table Of Contents), and so on. While I am not and do not have the right to criticize the work various groups do, since I am extremely thankfully for their voluntary services (saves me time and energy), I rather avoid the fragmentation and support my respective market. More over, I want to read the manga as it was intended. Authenticity of material (manga especially) is key to enjoying to its fullest, so I rather see and read how it is intended rather than rely on what the net has readily available with slight omissions. In some cases, it is just not the same as you may believe.
Layers Of Depth: Gimmicks and Effects
Manga artists spend too many hours of their time and life just to write “manga”. Over the years, they learn various techniques and skills and surprisingly, they use them. In some cases, there are tiny, but noticeable differences that can be seen in physical format than digital depending on what type of series you might read. It is hard to explain in layman terms (obviously, since I am no professional myself), but there are just some elements that are more noticeable in print than they would be through the screen to put it bluntly. Reading light novels as I do, I find this especially true sometime. Being able to look at illustrations and reading the text simultaneously brings up a “motion picture” of sorts in my mind rather than just reading, scrolling to the next page, and then, viewing the illustrations. It’s not the best example, but the gist of the idea is nearly the same.
At the end of the day, these are ONLY MY preferences and personal interactions I have had with the two formats of manga/books and no one-elses. Their is definitely more that the digital realm offers, but still not attractive enough to ween me off the market I am accustomed to. Their is also definitely strong cases for both, but growing up as someone who loves to read, I think it will be a long time before I ever become acclimated to digital formats in general. In the near future, I am sure they will undoubtedly get better, but their will be no replacing print anytime soon. For me anyway…