Do you like Manga? Do you also like to use eBook readers for reading text based books? Well, today you can combine these two things. With the help of the right tools you can bring your Manga on Amazon Kindle or any other eBook reader of your choice. This article gives you a step-by-step guide how to get your Manga books eReader ready.

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This tutorial should also work for Comics. However, I’m a Manga reader and therefore don’t have a Comic ready to test. This means that this article focuses on Manga on Amazon Kindle / eBook readers only.

Why not just a tablet?

It’s correct that the most easiest and viable option would be to buy a 8-inches or 10-inches tablet. For e.g. the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8 or Kindle Fire HD 10 would be a cheap and viable option. However, personally I don’t like to stare at an LCD or IPS display all the time while reading. It’s simply too straining for my eyes. E-Ink displays are the complete opposite. They are great for reading and give you a feeling that you’re actually reading a book. You can also read with these E-Ink screens outside. You will have zero reflection. Also, the battery is lasting much longer with one load cycle than a tablet.

In summary we can say, that tablets can be used for a lot of things like watching videos, listening to music, browsing the web and reading Comics and Manga. eReaders on the other hand are designed for one thing: Reading books. The biggest benefit for the eReaders are the display and the long lasting battery. However, you have to decide on your own if you want a multi purpose device or a device which does only one thing but gets this done right.

Can every eBook reader render Manga correctly?

There are some limitations when it comes to the eReader you should use. When I’m talking about Manga on Amazon Kindle or other eReader devices, I’m talking about the HD variants. While you can convert your Manga to a first gen Amazon Kindle for example, it will be difficult to almost impossible to read the Manga. The reason for that is, that the resolution of the screen from the earlier Kindle and eBook readers isn’t able to show that much pixels in order to render the pictures and fonts in a way a human eye can read it. I for myself am a Tolino Shine 2 HD user. This device has a 300 ppi screen and renders the Manga books perfectly. Devices with a similar or even better resolution like a Tolino Shine 2 HD for example are:

There are plenty other readers and this list is just a short overview of possible alternatives. Pick the one which suits best to you (if you haven’t one already). But keep in mind that the most important thing is an HD display (300 ppi / DPI) to get your Manga rendered correctly.

Kindle Comic Converter makes Manga and Comics eReader ready

Now that you’ve your eBook reader of choice ready, we can start converting the Manga. For this we use a tool which is called Kindle Comic Converter. This tools does not comes from Amazon nor does the developers have anything to do with them.

But why would you even want to convert the Manga before transferring them to your eReader? For the Amazon Kindle devices this answer is simple. The most Manga are published as a PDF or ePub file. These file types aren’t supported by the Amazon Kindle eBook readers. Therefore, you have to convert it into a so called MOBI file. But the most important reason is to resize the Manga to the screen size of your eBook reader. If you transfer your Manga to your eBook reader and simply start reading it, the Manga doesn’t automatically fits itself to the screen size of your eBook reader. Look at this picture for example where a unconverted ePub files is opened by a tolino shine 2 HD:

Manga on Kindle not optimized

Not optimized Manga on a tolino shine 2 HD (click to enlarge)

As you can see, the Manga is cut in halves due to the screen size. The rest of the Manga simply didn’t got rendered. And this is where Kindle Comic Converter comes into play. With the help of this tool you will be able to get a result like this:

Manga on Kindle optimized

Same page but optimized on a tolino shine 2 HD (click to enlarge)

Kindle Comic Converter is a free and open source software which converts CBZ, PDF, ZIP, RAR and a list of JPEG pictures into an ePub or MOBI format. It’s available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The following chapters are covering how to install and use it.

Installation of Kindle Comic Converter

The installation of the Kindle Comic Converter software is rather simple. The following chapters are describing how to install under Linux, Windows and Mac OS X.

Linux

If you are a Debian, Linux Mint or Ubuntu user, you can download the Debian package for your distribution version from the official homepage and install it like that:

user@machine:~$ sudo dpkg -i kindlecomicconverter_5.4.5_distri_amd64.deb
user@machine:~$ sudo apt-get -f install

However, the following method works for all Linux distribution. It downloads and installs automatically all dependencies which are needed. The only requirement is that the Python package installer for Python 3 is available on your system. But in order to get all features of the Kindle Comic Converter software working, we also install the packages unrar and p7zip. These two packages allows Kindle Comic Converter to extract ZIP and RAR based files. For openSUSE simply enter this:

user@machine:~$ sudo zypper ref && sudo zypper in python3-pip unrar p7zip

For Debian, Linux Mint and Ubuntu you can install it with this command:

user@machine:~$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install python3-pip unrar p7zip-full

Now that you’ve installed the Python package installer, you can finally install Kindle Comic Converter as well. This command is equals on every Linux distribution:

user@machine:~$ sudo pip3 install KindleComicConverter

After some minutes or seconds (depending on your internet speed), the installation is finished and you can enter the kcc on command line in order to start Kindle Comic Converter.

Windows

As a Windows user you may already be used to download and install software with a typical installer. The Kindle Comic Converter software also comes with such a installer. Simply download the installer from the official homepage and click yourself through the installation process.

Mac OS X

You can download the Mac OS X dmg file from the official homepage. After the download is finished, you can open the downloaded file and drag the content into your applications just like with the other software you’ve installed.

Only for Kindle users: Download and install kindlegen

kindlegen is an additional piece of software which allows the Kindle Comic Converter software to convert the output to a so called MOBI file. MOBI is the proprietary format that Amazon uses on their Kindle devices. This also means that this software is only needed if you’re using an Amazon Kindle eBook reader.

In order to install kindlegen on your PC or Mac, you have to download it from here for your operating system and move it to the following places:

  • For Windows: If you’re a Windows user, extract the downloaded ZIP file and move the kindlegen.exe into the directory where you installed Kindle Comic Converter. By default this directory isĀ  C:\Program Files\Kindle Comic Converter. Restart Kindle Comic Converter if it’s actually running.
  • For Linux: As a Linux user, you have to extract the GZ archive and move the binary to the directory /usr/local/bin. This can done on command line easily:
    user@machine:~$ wget http://kindlegen.s3.amazonaws.com/kindlegen_linux_2.6_i386_v2_9.tar.gz
    user@machine:~$ tar xfvz kindlegen_linux_2.6_i386_v2_9.tar.gz
    user@machine:~$ sudo mv kindlegen /usr/local/bin
  • For Mac OS X: Amazon also provides kindlegen for OS X. However, I’m unable to do more testing here because I don’t have a Mac (anymore). The developer of Kindle Comic Converter recommends using the homebrew installer brew to install kindlegen on a Mac OS X device. Enter the following command in order to install kindlegen with brew:
    user@osx:~$ brew cask install kindlegen

Convert Manga to ePub format

Now that you have everything prepared you can finally start converting your Manga into a ePub format suiting to your eBook Reader. To do so, start Kindle Comic Converter. For OS X and Windows simply start the application as you’re used to. For Linux, simply enter the command kcc on the command line. You should see a window which looks like this:

KCC start window

KCC start window

To convert a PDF, CBZ, CBR, ZIP or RAR file, click on Add file and select the Manga you want to convert. As already mentioned a lot of Manga are published either as a PDF or CBZ file. However, if the Manga you want to convert is already a ePub file, simply change the ending .epub into .zip. You will then be able to add the renamed file to Kindle Comic Converter.

After adding a file, you have a various list of options to choose from. The first one is the option to the left hand of the Convert button. Here you can choose a device where you want to convert the Manga for. There are a various of presets available for many Kindle and Kobo devices. If your device isn’t listed you can always choose the option Other. If you choose the Other option you can set a custom width and height at the bottom. Enter the resolution of your eBook reader here.

Another option you have to set in order to read the Manga on your eBook reader is the Manga mode. This mode adds support for right-to-left reading which is absolutely necessary for any Manga of course.

The right drop down menu next to the Convert button is the output file format. If you have an Amazon Kindle device it’s recommend to choose the MOBI/AZW3 option here. If you’re a tolino, NOOK, Pocketbook, etc. user you should choose ePub instead.

All other settings can be ignored for now. They are providing additional features which aren’t needed in order to get a Manga readable on an eBook reader. You can finally click on Convert. You will then see a dialog where you have to select the destination path for the output file.

Note: The developers are providing a Wiki page where a lot of users already reported which settings would be optimal for specific eBook readers. You can checkout it out here. Your eBook reader is maybe already listed there as well.

Transfer your converted Manga to your eReader

For non Kindle users, this is business as usual. Most of the modern eReaders are shown as a USB storage device when you connect them to your PC or Mac. Simply move the created ePub to the eReader via your file browser and that’s it. The Manga should pop up within a second in the library of your eReader.

As an Amazon Kindle user however, you have two options:

  1. You can use the “personal” mail address of your Amazon Kindle device. Just mail your MOBI file to the given address. It should pop up within a few minutes as long as your Kindle device is connected to the internet. You can see the mail address of your Kindle device under the settings menu. Most of the times it starts with your first name combined with a random number and ends with @kindle.com.
  2. Use a tool like Calibre to send your files to your Kindle. Calibre is a eBook suite which can be considered as a virtual shelf for eBooks. Calibre itself supports converting to different file formats which are eBook reader friendly like ePub. Calibre is also free and open source software.

Where to buy eBook Manga?

While going into a store to buy the Manga you want to read is easy and self explaining, the question “Where can I buy Manga eBooks?” is something that has to be answered. One valid option for almost every country is Amazon. Amazon offers a wide range of Manga eBooks. Even older volumes are published here again digital. Buying on Amazon works great as long as you’re an Amazon Kindle user. If you’re like me and you use another eReader you would have to download the Manga onto your computer, convert the .mobi file extension into an ePub and convert it from there on. I’ve seen some people posting that Amazon also offers PDF based Manga. However, I can’t confirm nor deny that right now.

But besides Amazon there are also other vendors available. For US customers, Barnes & Nobles are offering eBook based Manga and Comics. In Germany there are vendors like buecher.de and thalia.de which are both selling eBook Manga and Comics. But that’s just a very short list. There are even more alternatives available. Even the Humble Bundle comes up with a Manga and Comic eBook bundle from time to time. The last bundle included over 30 Manga volumes for just 18$.

Conclusion

As someone who collects video games, I understand that someone who is really passionate when it comes to collecting Manga or Comics buying digital isn’t an alternative. For me as someone who just likes to read Manga, the digital way of reading them is a more handy, cheaper, ecological and space saving solution. For everyone who doesn’t care if the Manga is digital or physical, I really recommend you to check out an eBook reader for reading Manga. Sadly I’m unable to tell if a 6″ to 7″ eReader is also acceptable for comics. I will most likely test this in the future but I guess that the experience isn’t the same because of the missing colors with the e-Ink displays (there are no eReaders with e-Ink displays available as of today).

What do you think about digital Manga or Comics? Do you see this as a viable option? Or do you stick to the physical version? Let me know in the comments section below.

Further links

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