Now that I've given JManga.com it's first report card, I've also come up with a few suggestions to make it a little easier to browse and buy from this online comics website.
1. MORE LIVE, PURCHASABLE COMICS CONTENT
I know this is a given, but please JManga, at least make it easier for me to see at a glance what’s actually available to buy and read. Clicking through covers to find only a cover and a plot synopsis is a waste of my time.
I know you needed to show off a variety of titles that you have at your disposal, but come on, it's been almost 2 months that you've been teasing me with those covers of Deadman Wonderland and haven't given me a clue if you're actually going to publish this former TokyoPop title, or you're just going to taunt us with the covers.
2. POST DATES FOR CURRENT/UPCOMING RELEASES
Tell me when a volume was released on JManga.com (not what year it was originally released in Japan) so I can tell if it’s something new I should tell my readers about. If a series/volume isn’t live yet, tell me when I should check back again to read it. When I finish reading Volume 1, tell me when I can expect to read Volume 2, etc. Don’t leave me hanging!
3. HOW ABOUT A BESTSELLER LIST?
It sure would be nice to see what’s the top 10 best selling JManga titles on your site in a given week, because that would inspire me to check out what other people are reading / talking about.
4. GIVE READERS A PLACE TO POST REVIEWS
On Amazon.com, reviews posted by other readers is one way that I decide whether to buy a book or not. Give readers a chance to share what they like and / or didn’t like, and maybe give the manga-ka a chance to respond / talk about their creations. It sure would beat some of the dry plot summaries that are already posted. This could also be a way for readers to provide feedback about translation glitches too.
5. GIVE ME RECOMMENDATIONS
Another powerful tool on Amazon and Netflix is the “related titles” recommendations – you know, the “if you liked this, you might also like” picks. You obviously know what's on your site better than I do -- share a little of what you know, and point me towards something else I might enjoy reading. Who knows? Maybe this will make me spend more time (and more money) on JManga.com.
6. TELL ME HOW MANY VOLUMES THIS MANGA HAS
Tell me clearly if it’s a single volume story (like Star-Protector Dog) or if it’s a continuing series. It’s misleading when every manga is labeled as “Volume 1” even when it has no Volume 2.
It's just helpful to manga readers like me to have clear expectations of what kind of "commitment" I'm in for here -- is this a one-shot, or if I like this first volume, am I signing up for volumes upon volumes of story to come? I've been let down (and abandoned in mid-series before), so please understand why I'm a little cautious here.
7. GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
Who did the translation/localization? Who was the editor? Believe it or not, some people (like me) care about this stuff.
8. PROVIDE REAL LINKS TO THE U.S. PUBLISHERS
Almost all of the titles from Shueisha and Shogakukan posted on JManga are available for online purchase and reading on the web and iOS devices on VIZManga.com – but you’d never know from looking at JManga. They only offer a link to the general VIZ Media website, not directly to the website to read/purchase that particular title.
Several titles are also available from other U.S. publishers like Dark Horse (Trigun, Hellsing), Yen Press (The Betrayal Knows My Name), Bandai (Eureka Seven), and Digital Manga (ZE), but they’re either not credited or linked to the U.S licensing company’s corresponding page for the title. If I can’t buy/read it on JManga, at least lead me to a place where I can buy it, if it’s available in print in North America.
9. PROVIDE GUIDANCE ABOUT EXPLICIT CONTENT
Sometimes just a "mature" notation isn’t enough. Give me a little forewarning if a manga has sexually explicit content, fanservice, gore/violence, and/or nudity. Not everyone likes a surprise.
10. BOYS LOVE MANGA SHOULD HAVE ITS OWN PLAYPEN
Putting some boys love manga in the shojo section and some in the josei section is confusing and makes for a clunky browsing experience for yaoi manga fans. If I like BL, then show me all you’ve got in one spot –- don’t make me click to two different sections to find it.
Overall, JManga.com set some ambitious goals for itself, and two months in, it has done a pretty decent job of meeting some of them. There is clearly room for improvement, but I think they’re making an honest effort to listen to feedback, and that’s already step in the right direction.