The digital manga site JManga will launch a spinoff site in October that will serialize a number of manga series one chapter at a time, allowing readers to stay current with series and then purchase them as complete volumes on JManga.
The new site, named JManga 7, will be updated seven days a week with new material. In an interview with Comic Book Resources last month, JManga business manager Robert Newman said that the site will carry a variety of genres, including shoujo (girls) and shonen (boys) manga, some old, some new, some that are well known in Japan and overseas and some that are not. When all the chapters in a given volume have been released, that volume will be removed from JManga7 and made available for purchase at JManga.
Like the anime site Crunchyroll, JManga7 will offer a great deal of material for free, but users can upgrade to a paid subscription option that would allow them to access some material earlier than free non-paying users. Some series might be available only by subscription, Newman said, and while the site may carry some ads, subscriptions will be ad-free. JManga7 will be available on the web and on Android and iOS devices as well.
Pushed by fans who want to see their manga in weekly installments close to the Japanese release dates, manga publishers have been experimenting with online serialization in the U.S. for some time. Viz's weekly digital magazine Shonen Jump Alpha publishes chapters of Naruto, Bleach, and other Shonen Jump series two weeks after they appear in print in Japan. Yen Press's monthly magazine Yen Plus publishes chapters of Soul Eater NOT simultaneously with the Japanese release. Subscribers must pay for both magazines, however. Viz did have a free manga site, SigIKKI, which released some series chapter by chapter, but it has not been updated recently. GEN Manga, a monthly online manga anthology, began publishing original manga material simultaneously online in Japanese and English in 2011. The anthology is also available in print in English in the U.S.
JManga is a web portal sponsored by 39 Japanese publishers, so the potential pool of material is vast. Furthermore, unlike Shonen Jump Alpha, which is available only in North America, JManga is available worldwide (although some series are restricted to particular regions), and presumably JManga7 will be as well.
Online serialization allows publishers to present manga as a "live medium," with readers staying engaged via weekly updates. This is one of the chief attractions of scanlation sites, which present unauthorized fan translations of manga. In the CBR interview, Newman said, "I think the reason that scanlation sites thrive is because they release content on such a fast schedule. I think the nature of entertainment on the internet is to have something pretty much instantaneous. It has to be there when you want it. So I think it is important for services like JManga and other services, such as Shonen Jump Alpha, to provide a legal alternative to that."
In addition to luring readers away from bootleg sites, JManga will be looking to expand the audience for manga by offering series that might be of interest to readers who don't usually follow manga and anime. The precedent for this is Vertical's Drops of God, a manga about wine tasting that has found an audience with wine connoisseurs as well as with manga readers.
JManga is kicking off the site with a contest in which readers who pre-register now can win a Nexus 7 tablet or a free one-year subscription. The titles that will appear on the site will be announced in September.