A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Building and Curating a Manga Collection to Meet Growing Community Demand

by on June 14, 2024

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, manga has surged in popularity in the United States. Barnes and Noble, the largest brick-and-mortar bookseller in the U.S., has prioritized expanding its manga section in redesigned stores. In 2022, manga sales nearly reached $250 million here, making up more than half of all graphic novel sales. How can librarians cater to the growing number of manga enthusiasts in their communities? Here are some ideas:

Ordering the Classics

Manga has exploded in popularity recently, but the genre has existed long enough to have its own canon. You wouldn’t start a British literature collection without Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and manga holds a similar group of titles considered to be essential classics. Many of these series include Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama, YuYu Hakusho by Yoshihiro Togashi, Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue, and Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi. Classic titles like these will serve as a stable foundation to grow a manga collection and popular manga titles will appeal to those who are interested in the genre, but don’t know where to start.

Ordering and Weeding Titles

Manga is challenging to collect due to the high total of long-running series. For instance, 105 English language-translated volumes of the series One Piece by Eiichiro Oda have been released in America. This should not deter you from ordering long-running series, as a series wouldn’t be long-running if it wasn’t popular. Yet there are two things to consider if your library decides to collect a long-running series: cost and shelf space. Collecting a long-running series will affect your budget. Is your budget substantial enough to collect every volume of the series? Is your budget big enough to also order other series? Collecting a long-running series will also affect shelf space for your manga collection.

The most crucial tip for weeding is to avoid selectively removing volumes from a long-running series. Doing so can leave readers with an incomplete experience. Instead, consider whether other libraries in your system hold certain titles before making any decisions.

Short Stories

Short story collections are a great addition to any manga library because they require minimal commitment from readers. Each story can usually be enjoyed independently, allowing readers to skip around without missing key plot points. Additionally, since these collections are not part of continuous series, you won’t risk having incomplete sets if you choose to stop ordering them.

Beast Complex by Paru Itagaki is a series of standalone short stories that bring together different carnivore and herbivore animals as they try to overcome conflict. These unique situations vary from a crocodile and a gazelle cohosting a cooking show in “The Crocodile and the Gazelle” to a snow leopard finding out that her movie co-star, a Japanese deer, had a hunger for method acting in “The Japanese Deer and the Snow Leopard.” Itagaki’s blending of different characters with unique moral situations brings to mind Krzysztof Kieslowski’s television series Dekalog, which dramatized moral conflicts of the Ten Commandments.

Junji Ito is a prolific author of horror short stories, a unique storyteller whose work doesn’t shy away from certain themes such as collecting or idol worship. Ito also doesn’t shy away from incorporating an assortment of objects into his stories. Two noteworthy stories incorporating a unique theme and object are “Hanging Blimp” and “Used Record.” “Hanging Blimp” is a deflating tale about balloons that appear with people’s faces on them, while “Used Record” is a story about a vinyl record with a deadly sound. These series can serve as a gateway to the authors’ longer works, such as BeaStars by Paru Itagaki and Uzumaki by Junji Ito.


Manga is an art style that serves its readers in various genres. The slice-of-life genre, for example, focuses on everyday life. Prominent titles include the comedy manga series Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san by Honda, which is about working in a bookstore, and The Way of the Househusband by Kousuke Oono, which follows a former Japanese mafia member who enters the dangerous world of homemaking. There are also sports manga series such as Eyeshield 21 by Riichiro Inagaki, which focuses on the American game of football. A unique series in another popular genre, action, is Gunsmith Cats by Kenichi Sonoda, which follows two female gunsmiths who fight crime in Chicago.


Another useful collection tip is that older manga series like Eyeshield 21 can be difficult to acquire. Many older series are out-of-print in English, making them limited on the secondhand market and bearing high costs. Manga also doesn’t have a classics series in the English language, like Barnes and Noble Classics, which reprints popular older titles to make them accessible for a broad, contemporary audience. Despite these challenges, manga reprints occasionally occur, so I’d advise you to check publishers’ or booksellers’ websites consistently to check for reprinted manga.



Tags: , ,