An Analysis of Weekly Manga Magazines Price for the Past 30 Years

topIn response to an article claiming weekly manga magazines is becoming more and more expensive, the Japanese blog "Justification of Information, Print Media or Story Addiction" recently published an article analyzing the price of weekly manga magazines in the last 30 years, and concludes that the price of weekly manga magazines have remained stagnant for the past 30 years.

Weekly Manga Magazines Price Remains Stagnant for the Last 30 Years
- That means the "price per page" rate of weekly manga magazines has remained the same for the past 30 years.

If I am not mistaken, the prices of recent weekly manga magazines for boys range from 240 to 250 yens. I see here and there articles claiming that the price of manga magazine was cheaper in the past compared to now, as the prices of magazines have risen recently (*1). However, there is some misunderstanding in this assumption.

The price of weekly manga magazines for boys, when converted to price per page (price/whole pages), is around 0.5 yen per page. This figure has not risen since the mid 1970's. It can even be said that the price of magazines is decreasing if one compares the price of magazines to the price-increase of other goods. (Reference: Price Increase Rate)

The reason why this is happening is that the number of works per issue and the total number of pages are increasing in accordance with the set price. For example, the number of serialized works and new works is consistently increasing in the case of Weekly Shonen Jump - the number of serialized works and their contents can be found here. (Now if only the price and pages per work are included as well...)

A detailed list of prices and the number of pages can be found in the table below, based on data from past articles and information provided by the magazines.

*Of course, the list only contains an estimate of the annually extracted data, since the number of pages (*2) and the price (*3) are not consistent with each. However, the list does provide a good overview of estimated trend.

Year Name of Magazine Price Pages Unit Price per Page
1969 Weekly Shonen Magazine 80 282 0.284
1969 Weekly Shonen Sunday 70 274 0.255
1972 Weekly Shonen Magazine 100 318 0.314
1976 Weekly Shonen Magazine 150 300 0.500
1977 Weekly Shonen Champion 150 300 0.500
1978 Weekly Shonen Champion 170 364 0.467
1979 Weekly Shonen Magazine 170 364 0.467
1979 Weekly Shonen Sunday 150 316 0.475
1983 Weekly Shonen Magazine 180 348 0.517
1984 Weekly Shonen Sunday 180 340 0.529
1986 Weekly Shonen Sunday 180 340 0.529
1986 Weekly Shonen Sunday 180 356 0.506
1986 Weekly Shonen Magazine 180 344 0.523
1988 Weekly Shonen Champion 180 380 0.474
1992 Weekly Shonen Jump 190 422 0.450
1994 Weekly Shonen Magazine 210 432 0.486
2005 Weekly Shonen Magazine 240 480 0.500
2007 Weekly Shonen Jump 240 474 0.506

A graph of the unit price per page:


After the drastic price increase around the time of the Oil Shock in the 1970's (*4), the unit price has scarcely changed in relation to the increase in the number of pages, which increased in parallel to the increase of the price. As the actual cost (*5) continues to rise, the magazine's role is largely considered to be advertisement for manga tankoubons, which utilizes the concept of "profit by losing."

However, the method of increasing the number of pages instead of increasing the price may someday fail. That someday could be the day when the thickness of the manga magazine surpasses the space available on magazine display stands at station stands and convenience stores, both of which are the current marketing battleground for manga magazines. It could also be when the thickness of the magazine surpasses the weight-carrying limit of the hand.

When that day comes, magazines will disappear and be replaced by the paperless digitalization of contents. However, right now there is still a fierce competition between print magazines and e-publishing, and the result of this competition may decide the system's collapsing point.

*By the way, in the case of manga tankoubons, the price is increasing while the number of pages has scarcely changed; however, this is another subject which may be covered another day.

[ 1 ] e.g. "The price of Weekly Shonen Jump has been rising gradually" - Comic Bulletin (Manga Sokuho)
[ 2 ] There can be both an increase and a decrease of pages with each issue
[ 3 ] The price ranges around 10 to 20 yens
[ 4 ] The number of pages was not increasing at the time.
[ 5 ] Manuscript fee, paper fee, copy fee, labor cost for editing, transportation fee and such.

Original Article from Justification of Information, Print Media or Story Addiction
Translated by Yurikomama

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I'm just wondering if the prices displayed on the graph were adjusted to inflation and all in PPP$2006?