A survey from ABJ (Authorized Books of Japan), a countermeasure group created by manga publishers reported that the manga industry has lost a total of 1.19 trillion yen (approximately US$8.76 billion) in 2021 as a result of illegal consumption via piracy sites (via Sankei).
This represents a sharp increase of 4.8 times over the past two years, while official sales only increased by 1.6 times. This is potentially a result of the increased interest during the pandemic.
The ABJ also noted that there are around 900 piracy websites and that the overall amount of views across the year was 3.76 billion, a 2.5-fold increase over the previous two years. Visits to illegal websites went from 61 million per month in January 2020 to 398 million per month in October 2021.
There’s no doubt that these illegal sites have negatively impacted the manga industry. Publishers have actively requested that such sites should be taken down. One example is Manga Bank, which now is currently offline, with a message saying that it is closed due to “server maintenance costs.” It is likely that Manga Bank still exists somewhere on the internet with a different url instead.
Although access to free manga is tempting, manga readers should do their part and support the artists and creatives that enrich their lives with their art and storytelling. The fight against pirate sites should not be a battle that publishers take on on their own.