A Better Way to Track and Read Your Favorite Manga

Girl on Windowsill Reading Book small

[Check out the companion post: A Guide to Finding New Manga]

I find manga to be a wholly entertaining medium. It’s a much different writing and production that the traditional American comics I grew up around. I find myself discovering new series all the time. But as I found more and more series that I was interested in, I found it harder and harder to keep track of them all. Different release schedules, different people making a English translation available. And each group translating them would save and package them differently. I found myself needing a more efficient way to feed my habit. With some research, word of mouth, and some trial and error, I’ve come up with a few different tools to track my favorite series, and enjoy reading them.

Tracking Releases

The hardest part about reading such a huge variety of manga was keeping track of all of them. I started with a simple spreadsheet, but having to manually go from site to site to check if there was anything new was starting to be quite the chore. I needed an easy way to be notified of new releases.

One site does a great job of tracking releases by the various teams as they release their scanlations. Manga Updates keeps a running log day by day of releases. They do the hard work of keeping track of things, and posting it for every one to find. The list is simple and to the point, which helps when you’re scanning through to find your favorite series. While not the most elegant, it does provide a means to the end goal of knowing when a new release has come out.

mangaupdates

An improved method to this would be to use an RSS reader. And the best combination that makes it accessible from anywhere is Google Reader, with the Feedly front end. No mater what PC you use, or where you’re at, Google Reader is accessible from any web browser. And the Feedly application makes looking at your RSS feeds a whole lot better. Feedly is available as a dynamic web page, Chrome extension, and iOS and Android app.

Feedly Interface

Google Reader is a Spartan interface; no frills, no options. Feedly works of the collection of feeds, and presents them in a “pleasant to the eyes” format. With different visual layouts, you can easily preview manga by feed, release date, etc. Most of the major translation and aggregation sites have a per series feed, so it’s easy to segregate and track each one separately. What it lacks in notification capabilities, it makes up for in near universal accessibility.

Now, if the lack of notification irritates you, there are better options. A third party extension for the Chrome browser will help keep your thumb on the pulse of manga releases. The All Mangas Reader extension makes tracking your favorite series a near real time experience. As a background app, it regularly checks for for updates of your favorite manga. Adding new manga to the extension is as easy as just visiting your favorite aggregation or scanlation site. It tracks the sites you go to, and automatically adds the manga you visit to its tracking list. When there’s a new release, it’s filtered to the top and highlighted red.

All Mangas Reader

Another advantage is that it cleans and simplifies the online readeing experience. It displays full chapter scans, instead of single page scan, directly on the app’s supported web sites. You can also change the view for wider screens, so that the chapter scrolls like a real book (left to right or right to left). And as an added bonus, it will remove ads while reading manga. This extension is a great multi-function tool for the Chrome browser. But what if you want to download the files, rather than view them online?

Desktop Comic Readers

A lot of people don’t want to use online readers. Either they want to download and read later, or put the files on a tablet device for viewing while one the go. For me, it’s mixed depending on the series, and how good an image the scan is. So when I do download, I want a clean interface to view the files. My first choice for this is CDisplayEX

CDisplayEX  was first released in 2003 as CDisplay. It was the work of a developer and comic lover, who wanted a simple, sequential image viewer that was optimized for images like comics. Unfortunately, the creator passed away in 2003, not long after making the app available. The project was kept alive as CDisplayEx, an open source comic viewer that’s built on CDisplay design. CDisplayEx is a fantastic lightweight image viewer. It allows image resize to fit your monitor and view, and can apply color corrections. It even integrates a 7zip plugin, so it’s easy to view images inside of compressed archives. Last but not least, it supports PDF files. With a easy to use interface, it makes reading your favorite series on your PC all that much better. And best of all, it’s open source and free.

CDisplayEX

If you want something with a few more bells and whistles, the ComicRack might be your thing. ComicRack is aother free comic reader for Windows. The application supports, and also exports, almost any comic book file. Like CDisplayEX, it supports image viewing in compressed archives (ZIP, RAR, and 7z) without unpacking them first. The app has a three-pane interface, allowing you to navigate through files and folders. One of the unique features is that you can collect your favorite comics together in collections, pack them up as a comic book archive (CBZ) file, and export to other devices. You can even share your comic library over your home network so you can go to another room and pick up where you left off. And in the last month they started to release apps for Android and iOS devices.

image

So whether you’re looking for a better way to track your manga, or make it easier to read on your PC, there are options out there to improve on both fronts.

19 thoughts on “A Better Way to Track and Read Your Favorite Manga

    1. JoeAnimated Post author

      Yeah, that Chrome extension is great. I use it almost exclusively now. I still have some stuff in my Feedly I’ll roll in at some point, but it’s things that I only read when there’s 5-6 to do at once since they’re so infrequently updated.

      Reply
  1. Sumairii

    Now this is some neat stuff. I personally have feeds set up to automate the “grabbing” of anime for me, but I’ve never really thought about automating the process for manga as well. Currently I just follow the manga I’m reading on Batoto to keep track of new chapters.

    Reply
    1. JoeAnimated Post author

      Batoto is a great site, and the Chrome extension works great for it. I’d be interested in seeing how you’ve set your anime feeds up. I’ve found a method for downloading the torrent files and having uTorrent automatically start, but it’d be nice to have the list already set for grabbing the files.

      Reply
  2. megaroad1

    Thanks. I might give a couple of these ago.

    I must confess that I’m very old fashioned when it comes to manga. I still prefer to read the good old paper editions and try to support the artists and industry as much as possible. Of course everything has its consequences, and my wife often asks me if it’s really necessary for ‘Berserk’, ‘Gantz’ and ‘Monster’ to take up half of our shelf space

    Reply
    1. JoeAnimated Post author

      I would love to get more hard copies, but I like to look at things first, and my local store doesn’t carry that great of a variety, and I don’t go to conventions, so my options are limited. I should just break down and start ordering hard copies for the one I really like.

      Reply
      1. Bony Yousuf

        Hi,
        I have made a chrome extension which lets you read manga in full screen from most of the popular site(around 20) and also tracks chapter releases and gives you notification right from the browser whenever your favorite manga series has a new chapter.

        I was hoping if you could check it out and possibly add that here in the list of other trackers. I can promise you that this is the best extension on chrome webstore.

        Thank you.

        Extension link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/manga-viewer/bebalkdfejapnfbngpmhchkboajaofen

        Reply
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  5. projectdelphai

    Thanks for this great list. All the time I’ve spent using manga updates and I never realised that they track manga releases. I used to use mangareader/mangapanda like foshizzel before it started spamming my email inbox with emails of new releases. I was going to try manga updates, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t look they provides online reading, downloads, or even links to places to read or download them. I am in the process of creating a manga tracker and it is located at http://byakko.heroku.com. It’s not fully completed yet (I still need to add rss feeds and some other features), but I thought you might find it interesting.

    Reply
  6. TnR

    Hi everybody, I just created a website to help me track all the manga I’m reading, which I’ve read, when a new chap is out etc. Maybe you’d like to give it a try?

    Reply
  7. TnR

    Hi,
    I’ve developed a manga tracking website first for my personal use, but then thought it might be useful for anybody else. I’d love to hear what you guys think about it! The address is tracknread.com

    Reply
  8. Bony Yousuf

    Hi,
    I am a passionate manga reader and also a web developer. I was having trouble reading manga online, so I created an extension for it, which lets you read manga in full screen from 17+ of the famous sites online. It also supports image precaching and even chapter caching. So while you read one chapter, next one will also be loaded for you. Its just a seamless integration that I promise you will let you forget that you are reading manga online but not from your computer. Few months later, I even added the functionality for subscribing to manga series from any of your favorite manga sites. So whenever a new chapter comes in it gives you a notification right from the browser. I’m sure any manga lover will love this features. Here is the link for the extension https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/manga-viewer/bebalkdfejapnfbngpmhchkboajaofen
    In case the link isn’t allowed here, just go to chrome extension page and search for “Manga Viewer”. This extension will come at top. Read the review on the chrome page about this extension if you have doubts in your mind.
    I am sure you guys will love it after using it from the very first moment. 🙂

    To the author “Joe Animated”, why dont you give it a try, If you think its worth mentioning then maybe put a small review on this article along with other tracker?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. JoeAnimated Post author

      Ok, so I’ve downloaded your extension, and I’ll be giving it a try over the coming week. I’ll put together a comparison post after that and give you some feed back in that. So far, it seems to work pretty well. But there are some definite design choice differences that I’ll have to get used it. But, all in all, nice job!

      Reply
      1. Bony Yousuf

        Hey,
        Thank you so much. Try subscribing to couple of manga series to see how it shows notification whenever a new chapter is released. Also try to sync into chrome so that you subscription information is saved into the cloud. And last of all, try out the two different modes of showing slides “Continuous long strip” mode is like how the most of the manwha is, the way “All Manga Reader” works. And “Carousel/slider” is my favorite and default ones which lets you slide through the pictures like a gallery.

        Do let me know, if you have any suggestions. I will definitely implement/fix those.

        Thanks again 🙂

        Reply
  9. Alex

    There is a website which checks for releases on mangapanda and sends notifications when something is released (along with the link). There is no point denying that – I have made this website 😉 Basically you can even keep your PC offline and the website will do the rest of the job. That must be one of the easiest ways to track manga.

    Reply

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