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Shonen Jump’s new digital platform has free chapters, full back catalogue

Free same day releases as Japan and access to over 10,000 chapters

One Piece Shonen Jump

Viz Media announced new changes to the U.S. version of Weekly Shonen Jump in a video on its website. Shonen Jump global vice president Hisashi Sasaki said that the American publisher will discontinue the collected version of the magazine in favor of free, individual chapters of all currently running manga. It will also offer a vault of over 10,000 older chapters for paid subscribers.

This new service, simply called Shonen Jump, will launch on Dec. 17. It will continue to make content available on a weekly basis, but instead focus on individual chapter releases instead of a larger package of multiple manga at once.

The free offering will also contain a backlog of the last three chapters for any running series. For readers who want to dive into the full catalogue of any manga, they can pay $1.99 per month. This subscription will not only give readers access to all chapters of current manga, like One Piece, but the full releases of completed manga like Death Note.

The move to a free platform with premium access to past chapters was made in an effort to provide “an official and trustworthy source as an alternative to pirate sites.” Unofficial “scanlations” of popular manga are common, as they give fans from around the world near-instant access to new chapters of manga without waiting on official licensors and distributors. Typically, owners of these sites will scan recently published chapters, remove all the original Japanese text, clean up the pages so they are easier to read on a computer screen, and translate the text into the local language of their audience. All of this occurs without the consent of the original creators, and the ad revenue generated from these sites benefits the translators, not Shonen Jump.

The new Shonen Jump aims to benefit readers by releasing English versions of manga the same day as in Japan, something unofficial scanlation sites can’t do. But it’s important not to ignore the financial incentive here as well: Creating a free, official product competitive with the unofficial work of pirate sites will help Shonen Jump protect its intellectual property from piracy, or easily accessible versions of its series that it can’t monetize.

The new Shonen Jump digital platform will be available on the publication’s website and through its Android and iOS app starting Dec. 17.

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