How To Save Money

Jim Handley's Universe

With the advent of Bandai Entertainment’s publishing business coming to a close, I felt it to be appropriate to reveal to you my strategies to saving money, while helping the industry stay afloat. No, not pirating. It will be silly to not admit that consumers are saving money by doing so, because they are not spending any to begin with. However, it does not save any industry in America or Japan nor does it keep its head above the water. So, one has to find a balance between spending and protecting the life span of the industry (if one cares to do so). Without further ado here are my strategies to you.

Online versus offline, which is better? Depending on what you are buying, there are a couple of things to consider: bootleg/fakes and total cost of purchase. When it comes to optical disc products, such as DVDs, CDs and Blu-rays, I am not too fond of buying it online, new or used. The problem is online sellers can be selling you a bootleg version (this goes for any other types of merchandise too, like keychains and toys). Unlike having a physical copy of an item that can be placed in your hand, you cannot inspect the one that you see online thoroughly. Basically, you are dependent on the seller’s pictures (assuming it is not a stock image) and the description of the item's or items' condition. Unless it comes directly from a creditable source, like Right Stuf, Inc., Best Buy or, Inc. (not third party sellers on the site), I would be wary of that. The second thing to keep in mind is how much you would be spending, including tax and shipping and handling. Sometimes going directly to a store will save you more money (even a couple of dollars) compared to buying it online. So, definitely bargain hunt and do a price comparison between retailers, online and offline.

1) Library

Here's an option where you can save the industry, save your wallet AND support your local or school library! Part of your tuition (depending on your school) and/or local and federal taxes is already funding (I hope) your library. Plus, when people check out the manga, graphic novel, comics and/or anime, it helps increase the circulation status of the branch, which MIGHT help increase the library funding, so that more items (that you like to read or watch) can be purchased and placed in the library for you to borrow.

So, get out your library card (if you do not have one, ask your librarian about the process on how to obtain one), go to your library and check out the books and DVDs! If your local branch does not have the volume or item you want, see if there is an inter-library loan option, so that you can borrow it from another branch or school. Just a couple of FYI’s - not everything can be checked out; it might be a reference material and remember to return the borrowed items to the library on time, unless you do not mind paying for the late fee. :-)

2) Discount or Sale of New Items

If you do not mind spending extra money to save money (I know it does not make sense), one option is to pay for a Bookstore Membership that offers discounts on your purchases. For example: Kinokuniya Bookstores in New York City has an Anime/Manga Membership Program, while Barnes and Noble has a general Member Program. For me paid membership is only worth it if you save more than you spend on the membership fee. It does not make sense to sign up for a $25 membership if you only buy one or two books a year. So before you sign up for any membership program, ask how the program works, take into account how much is the discount off your purchase if you are a member, how often you would be purchasing from the retailer during the duration of the membership period and compare it to how much you are spending on the membership fee.

Another option is to check out your local comic book store for a membership program and/or student discounts. There is a possibility that the comic book shop in your area offers these types of savings options. In New York City, the two I joined are free and one of them has a point system, while the other you have to join in order to participate in their special member's only sales event. At another comic book store, if you show them your student ID card prior to purchase, you can get a discount off your items. So contact your local comic book shop and see if they have these types of options available. If they do then ask how does it work.

If you are patient enough, coupons may be available to you. For example, Barnes and Noble randomly sends me emails with coupons, while Best Buy offers coupons through their Rewards Zone program. However, in order to get a coupon you have to reach a certain amount of approved points. Before you use the coupon, you have to read the fine print, because there might be some stipulations that you have to follow. For example, during the 2011 holiday season, Kinokuniya Bookstore in NYC, had a coupon available to readers of Chopsticks. However, the coupon stated that you had to spend a certain amount of money to obtain the discount. So, definitely read how the coupon works prior to shopping.

Midtown Comics

Sometimes in store and/or online retailers will have Sale Events and/or Bargains. In regards to Sale Events, what I am referring to are sales that last for a certain duration, such as a 1 week sale or date A to date B, or special occasions and holidays, like new releases, Black Friday or Memorial Day. When it comes to Bargains, I am referring to general sales that happen without an event attached to it and has no set duration, except for while supplies last or whenever the retailer says so, such as bookstore closings, over stock bargain deals, getting rid of old products or publisher going out of business sale. I have seen sales like Buy 1 Get One for 40% Off, Buy 1 Get 1 Free and a general On Sale or Bargain section at my local comic book stores for graphic novels, including manga. This is where you will have to keep your eyes and ears open by examining the Sale section of a store, going up and down the aisles to see if anything is discounted or signing up for your local comic book store newsletter. If not, you might miss out on the deals. Yes, patience is needed.

Lastly, there are conventions. If you are going to a convention, you should do some bargain hunting. Because out of state/local exhibitors do not want to bring back their merchandises with them, they like to get rid of their products by the last day of the show. I’ve seen graphic novels; Japanese and American, 50% off the cover price. Definitely keep an eye out for bargains like these.

3) Used Items

If your main priority is to save money and you have no problem being behind on the story, then all you need is patience. See if your area has a used bookstore.

In New York City and other parts of the United States, there is a Japanese store called Book Off, which sells second hand products that are in Japanese and the English language. I’ve seen some pretty old manga and anime in that store. The items are cheaper than the original price, but sometimes I can save more at other used bookstores. One such New York City store is Strand Books, which sells graphic novels and DVD, including manga and anime. I have seen some manga for $3 and American comics for half the original cover price. Another option for used books is Again, depending on how reputable the seller is, you might not receive a good condition book or legit optical disc. So be wary of that.

4) Online or On the Go

If you want to save physical space, then this is an option that you might want to try out. FYI - some will cost you a fee. There are legit online streaming, reading sites and mobile apps for you to check out:

Online Streaming
The Anime Network
Aniplex Titles
FUNimation Productions, LTD.
Viz Anime

Online Reading
Dark Horse Digital
Gen Manga
Weekly SHONEN JUMP Alpha
Viz Manga
Yen Plus

5) Buying another Licensed version

Sometimes another official translated version is cheaper than the English ones. If you don’t like the English translation of a manga, then buy the Japanese one. If you prefer neither then buy another official translated version. I know you are probably asking, “Why should I buy the Japanese version, if I cannot read it?” Then my question would then be “how did you end up liking the story (a non-licensed un-translated series) if you cannot read the Japanese version?” You probably had it translated to you in some fashion, right? So if you like the story, then buy the original. At least you are supporting the industry and its creators by purchasing the official version.

So there you have it folks! These are just some ideas on how one can save money, while purchasing an official version. There are probably other strategies, but it is up to you on how you want to approach this. I am just letting you know what I know. :-) So figure out what works for you and remember that you are the backbone of this industry.