There's no question about it: I love my books. I have thousands of them, not just manga but sci-fi epics and romances and young adult trilogies and oh, all sorts that I've collected over the years. Properly organized and displayed, they're the pride of my home. But when it comes time to move that home... well, that's when I have to remember why my books are worth it.
Unlike DVDs, Blu-rays, and video games, there are no tricks to make your manga collection take up less space. You can't get rid of the packaging. Buying omnibuses does not take up appreciably less space the way a bargain DVD collection does over singles. There's no new format on the horizon that can put more manga into the same-size book unless you go digital and, well, digital's just not my style. Not when it comes to the books I love - or even just moderately like and occasionally lend out to friends.
Nothing puts these thoughts front and center like packing 20+ boxes full of potential paper cuts and dust-induced sneezes. "Do I really need to hang on to the first 14 volumes of The Prince of Tennis? I didn't even keep up with the later arcs. I can't remember any character's name but Ryoma. The used bookstore will probably give me at least $5 for the lot and then I won't have to haul them across two county lines."
But then I start to think, "What if I someday get back into PoT? I'll be sad if I have to re-buy the books or find them at the library. What if my niece takes up tennis? I could give her the books. And if I take them to the bookstore, isn't that the same as packing them to move? May as well keep the collection looking good on my shelves."
Most of my books, however, I have much stronger feelings about. Fruits Basket, for example – all first editions, purchased the very first week they were available (if not technically before, thanks to working at Right Stuf during most of the run). They and their Japanese counterparts will never be leaving my shelves, even if I do have to resort to creative stacking to get everything to fit without another trip to IKEA.
Volumes 1-7 of FAKE were acquired from the local comic book store before I learned about pre-ordering and Right Stuf. I remember at one of my first conventions going up to Alan Payne at the Tokyopop booth and telling him how much I loved the books and how grateful I was that they'd published the complete series. In return, he asked me somewhat desperately if I had been at least 18 when I bought volume 7. (I had been, but only by a couple years. Considering the books published nowadays, however, those two pages earning it a higher age rating sure are tame in comparison.)
Compared to packing my other books, manga is downright easy – most of the time. Thanks to Tokyopop's "100% Revolution," most of my manga are precisely 5" x 7.5". It's trivial to stack them together without wasting space. But then come the oddities, and I don't just mean my oversize Dark Horse CLAMP omnibuses. Why are all of my Code Geass books so different looking, Bandai? Neither trim nor spines are consistent across the series.
Remember Ice Kunion? (No, you definitely do not, don't lie.) Why were their Korean manhwa books bigger than average while DrMaster's were smaller? But at least the Ice Kunion volumes match Yen Press's taller books; perhaps we have Ju-Youn Lee's transfer between companies to thank? Hey, who at Viz decided that the adult content in Happy Marriage needed to be represented by an-ever-so slightly taller spine? I'm trying to keep my box contents orderly here.
Sometimes there are fun surprises for myself: Oh yeah, I finally completed my Girl Got Game collection a few years ago when we got in that batch of old stock! I should re-read that. Sometimes there are reminders that I've fallen behind: what volume is Skip Beat up to now again? Then there are the ones that somehow never made it onto the shelves: Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE 20 and NG Life 4, I'll get around to buying you one of these days.
Some of my books I'll never, ever give up because they've been out of print so long I can't fathom finding decent copies to replace them. That includes complete runs of series from CMX (always a good time to mention Land of the Blindfolded!) and Go Comi (Her Majesty's Dog and Night of the Beasts were both far better than they got credit for).
Taking up huge amounts of space are my shonen collections, even though they're some of my least-read books. This isn't because I don't like One Piece and Naruto, of course – it's because I bought the books after having watched the anime and wasn't desperate to know what happened. That's still no excuse for leaving the shrink wrap on Fullmetal Alchemist 5 ten years later... But maybe it's best to leave it on after all. You never know if something will happen to the boxes during the move and I wouldn't want it getting damaged.
Right, back to packing boxes. Can't get distracted looking through my omnibus of Clover. ("I'm just going to remind myself how much I love the art...") Another nice thing about hauling my manga collection everywhere I live is that it provides justification for all those little character plushies I've amassed. Bulbasaur and Neko-sensei are just the right size to be used as packing material in the box corners I can't fit more manga into.
This is when I start regretting not saving more Right Stuf boxes from my time as a minion, but then again, proper Right Stuf Anime packaging calls for a lot more protective padding then I'm willing to bother with for one box of books, let alone a couple dozen. Pro-tip: apple boxes from grocery stores are some of the best non-Right Stuf packing boxes you can get, and they're absolutely everywhere this time of year.
Fun fact: a Viz Inu Yasha omnibus (the good ones, not the 3-in-1s) legally qualifies as a weapon in 36 states due to its size and weight. (This fact not verified by the National Board of Facts.) Do not drop one on your foot as you attempt to grab a whole stack at once from the top shelf. Also, consider abandoning alphabetic shelving and move the omnibuses to the bottom shelves with the hardcover artbooks and American comics, especially if you live in earthquake country.
Well, that's it! The last book is finally packed! ...Not counting that one I just found by the bed, or the two my friend just returned before I could tell her to hang onto them for another month or three. The boxes are stacked in uniform towers in the living room, forming an impenetrable fortress for my cat to play on. When I arrive it will be on to the "fun" part: unpacking and trying to figure out how much space to leave on each shelf for the new books I'll be sure to acquire before my next move.
-Lisa Marie Cooper
Lisa has been hauling around her book collection since she got old enough for her parents to make her pack her own boxes. That's a lot of years and a lot of books. Long-time Right Stuf fans may recognize Lisa as Marie from the Anime Today podcast or as the OG RightStufSpecialsMinion on the Anime News Network and Fandom Post forums. Her non-anime articles can be found at PositivelyEditorial.com.