Anime News Network did an in-depth comparison of reading manga on an iPad vs. a Nook Color today, after Viz Media sent them both devices so they could do a hands-on look at making the digital jump. After taking a hit from the closing of Borders, Viz decided to turn its popular Shonen Jump publication into a digital-only product. Launched in January, Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha is $25.99 for an annual subscription, with three of its flagship series -- One Piece, Bleach and Naruto -- now running almost concurrent with the Japanese release. Individual issues can be rented for 99 cents for a 4-week period.
The results aren't surprising. By holding up a volume of manga next to an iPad, it shows that the iPad is right about the same size as a manga volume and the experience is just as good as reading a print book. What the article does highlight is the problems that the Nook Color has with Viz's products, especially when it comes to things such as double-page spreads. It doesn't touch on the Kindle Fire, however, since Viz hasn't ported its app out to it yet. As expected, the big drawback to the iPad is the price. While manga sold via Viz's iPad app is cheaper than the print volumes, the price of an iPad would be the barrier preventing teens from completely making that digital jump Viz wants them to make.
We originally looked at the Viz app in 2010, and we were pretty pleased with its offerings then. If you haven't considered a digital transition of your manga and comics yet, the ANN article is a good way to see if you'd want to do so. While I still prefer buying print graphic novels, my comic-buying habits are a mix of supporting my favorite local comic shop and buying digital manga through Comixology and Viz -- the latter being excellent for long series that take up a ton of shelf space.