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JManga, the online manga portal launched in August 2011 by Japan’s Digital Comic Association, will shut down May 30. The website has already stopped selling points, required to purchase and view titles, with the ability to buy manga ending March 26. After May 30, members no longer will be able to view the titles they’ve purchased.
The abrupt announcement arrived last night in an “urgent message” to JManga members. A statement on the company’s site reads, “We deeply regret having to terminate our manga retail service in this manner and offer our sincerest apologies to the users, partners and friends who supported us. As a small token of our appreciation we will be refunding each user’s unused points …” Those refunds will come in the form of Amazon gift cards.
The shutdown, and where it leaves customers, will undoubtedly add voices to the growing chorus of criticism surrounding the digital comics distribution model: As an FAQ on the JManga site spells out, members won’t be able to view the titles they purchased after 11:59 p.m. May 30; they can’t be downloaded, either.
That’s of course a far cry from the 2011 launch announcement, which said, “The digital manga you purchase is automatically placed in your very own virtual bookshelf for you to read whenever want, wherever you are!”