There is something about online shopping that appeals to me, and yet, doesn’t appeal to me at all.
I have no problem with shopping online for clothing, accessories, kitchenware and even sizable pieces of furniture. But shopping for physical volumes of manga online? Pshaw! Except for one year in college where I clearly remember struggling to get my packages from my dorm’s front desk, I’ve only sporadically bought manga online. Even when there’s a really good sale going on at RightStuf.
It probably started when I was a young teen getting stranded in Orange County Barnes & Noble stores while waiting for my mom to pick me and my friends up. Yeah, we were total manga hobos, but at the time we were only hobos blocking the aisles, so no one cared yet. That period ended when I got a car, which also allowed me to get a job and become a real manga consumer. (I like to think I’ve more than made up for my hobo days now.) Even when I was a busy college student, it was easier to hop on the bus or in my car and go down to the local chain bookstores than to order something online. And I worked in the on-campus mail delivery department.
Why? I really love browsing in bookstores and comic book stores. Lingering along the stacks, amassing a small armful of books. The spontaneous purchase of manga is very alluring to me. I’m probably some kind of dying breed of manga fan, but I don’t care. Browsing is important to me. I find it a really good way to legally preview a new series I might want to pick up. This habit started in the days before there was legal manga online to look at, so I find it hard to break now.
But now I have a problem.
Back in May, my boyfriend and I moved to a new apartment. It’s a lovely place, except for the overabundance of spiders, but there’s only one tiny comic book store around and they barely sell any manga. I could just order stuff from Diamond through them, but that doesn’t work out for new manga if I’m not so sure I want to buy it.
There’s no chain stores or other comic book stores around for 3+ miles, and in LA traffic terms that means you need more than one reason to go to that part of town. That really kills ability to spontaneity of casually going down to a bookstore and buying something just because I feel like it. It is literally easier (and more effective because they have more manga than most bookstores) to go down to a comic book store an hour away because it’s close to my mom’s house. But I’m always really busy whenever I’m down there visiting her. Talk about hell for a perpetual browser like myself!
Despite all the problems chain bookstores and comic book stores have caused for the manga industry, I really miss having more them around.
Says the girl who order a couple hundred dollars of manga at this year’s RightStuf holiday sale. (But I only bought two volumes of new stuff I hadn’t previously been collecting. So sue me!)
I miss certain bookstores also in NY, since you can physically evaluate a book, but with the competition from the internet, there is a steep loss of serendipitous experiences.