This is something that frequently gets asked in my local Circle, so I figured I’d do a post on it.
Manga in the UK can be a nightmare to buy, mainly because most publishers don’t actively release in the UK. So we end up having to rely on imports an over charging comic shops. But that isn’t the best place to go, here’s a list of the places I use, and why I choose them.
Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.co.uk
This should always be your first stop. The Book Depository sell pretty much every manga that’s ever been released, and can even get some of the original japanese releases. Almost all of their titles are reduced usually anywhere from 10-35%, and they occasionally do voucher periods which can gain you an extra 10-15% off of your total order. Finally, and probably their best selling point, is they do free shipping. Whether your order is a single volume or thirty volumes, it’s free postage.
Sadly that is also their biggest failing. They rely on Royal Mail standard first class delivery, which is usually within 2-3 days. My experience is usually 3-4 days. I usually order Monday afternoon and they’d arrive Friday/Saturday. also sadly the mail service isn’t what it used to be, and so far 1 in 15 books ordered will not arrive. While BD can not be held responsible for that, they’re very slow at processing replacements and refunds, taking upwards of 3-4 weeks.
Overall though BD is always my first stop, and it’s only ever been a few things I haven’t been able to get from them.
Play.com – http://www.play.com
Is usually my second stop after BD. While their range isn’t as broad, they do tend to carry most new releases. They also have a market place for selling second hand copies, and also like BD offer free postage.
Unlike BD though they only take payment when your item is ready to be shipped, which can lead to confusion over the payments. Also the marketplace is very easy to manipulate, and you need to be careful when using it as the safeguards aren’t that safe.
Waterstones – http://waterstones.co.uk
Depending on your manager the local Waterstones can be a good port of call. However bear in mind Waterstones have a dodgy charging system. Rather than working out the cost of a title in the UK, they simply replace the $ for £, so if a volume is $9.99 you’ll be charged £9.99. However they frequently do 2 for 3 deals which soften that some.
Forbidden Planet – http://www.forbiddenplanet.co.uk/
Forbidden Planet (or any other comic shop) are a fair to average shopping experience. Since they get their supplies through Diamond, rather than a distributor, there are pros and cons. Firstly Diamond gets the manga quicker, so it reaches you more quickly. However it can cost you more, since it goes through several hands before getting to yours. Also price fluctuations are annoying since the price you were given at the time of the order can change when you pick it up, depending on the exchange rate at the time of shipping
Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk
I don’t like Amazon, I’ve never had a good experience with them, though I know others swear by them. Their range is almost as good as BD, and they also carry a lot of older and hard to find titles. Like Play.com they have a marketplace for second-hand copies, but their safeguards are a lot stronger, making it safer to buy on. Though as a rule of thumb you never want to buy anything from anyone with les than a 90% rating, and never from a new seller.
Unlike BD or Play.com their shipping is charged, and it’s worth paying the extra to get the priority delivery which will usually get to you the next day. The standard delivery is exactly the same as Play.com and BD’s free one, where as the priority one at least offers security.
Personally though, I’d only ever use Amazon as an ultimate last attempt. I’ve found their customer services to be abysmal, and they frequently charge for titles they know they don’t have.
There we have it, a list of the places to buy manga in the UK. Book Depository will have 99% of the stuff you want, and a reduced price, with free shipping. What more do you need? There are other stores of course, and this list is not meant as the be all and end all, rather these are the places I’ve used and found worth using again and again.