Barely two years after its launch, JManga.com, a digital manga retail site organized by the Japanese Digital Comics Association, comprised of 39 of Japan’s biggest manga publishers, will be shut down for good effective May 30. The site halted all purchasing on March 13 and currently all member accounts can be accessed for free. But any manga purchased at JManga.com cannot be downloaded and members will eventually lose access to any manga purchased through the site.
According to a notice posted on the JManga Site, unused JManga points (JManga members buy points and the points are used to buy access to manga) can be exchanged for Amazon gift cards based on the amount of unused points on March 13. But more important, JManga was strictly an online service. Titles could be read on a laptop or via its app, but any manga purchased at the site will simply be lost completely after the service shuts down for good May 30.
The service was launched with much fanfare at the San Diego Comic-con two years. Last August they launched JManga 7 a companion site that serialized a number of manga titles seven days a week before making them available in a complete volume via the JManga.com site. As late as June last year, JManga’s business manager Robert Newman said the site had nearly 300 volumes available through the site and was planning to have 1000 volumes by late summer.
JManga was an effort by the 39 publishers to address illegal scanlations, scans of manga titles posted online almost immediately after publication. Scanlations and giant web sites that aggregate them have been blamed for contributing to the dramatic decline in sales of print manga in the North American market. Despite the belated effort to address this issue with JManga, at the time of its launch many in the manga community thought it was too little too late and complained that the site’s prices were too high, the point system awkward and confusing and that the site was not offering the level of quality that would attract manga fans.