This is a list of shops around the world I’ve been to that have had a decent selection of BL manga. If you’re looking to buy volumes online, then I recommend the Book Depository, but if you’re like me, there’s sometimes nothing better than browsing through a shelf of books with nothing specific in mind. Bookshops also facilitate the discovery of stories and authors you wouldn’t otherwise come across — some of my favourite manga I only read because I saw them in a store and took a chance.
If you have some favourite shops of your own that sell more than a token array of BL manga or doujinshi, feel free to recommend them in the comments!
Do please note that I can only update this page when I (re)visit the stores themselves, so some information may be outdated (check the “last visited” date on most listings).
Where: 121 Elizabeth Street Melbourne CBD, website
Minotaur is a pop culture nerd’s wet dream. The basement store sell novels, manga, art books, action figures, posters, DVDs, toys and limited edition imports for many popular science fiction and fantasy fandoms. They also have a huge selection of English-language manga, including one tall shelf of BL (English-language only). They usually stock new releases in a timely fashion, though expect to pay a few dollars more for a volume than you might online. Personally I don’t mind doing so when it means I’m also supporting a local one-of-a-kind store.
Where: 525 S Weller Street, Seattle, website with map
Last visited: December 2010
Kinokuniya is, of course, a global Japanese-owned bookchain, and naturally all of its branches stock manga in some form or another. Not all stock BL though, but the store in Seattle I visited certainly did. They had two low shelves of English-language yaoi, though they were already sold out of some of the more popular and recent titles. To my surprise, they also sell a goodly selection of Chinese-language manga (despite clearly marked Taiwanese export restrictions), though no Chinese BL. I’ve forgotten if they also sold Japanese-language yaoi, though I have a feeling they didn’t.
Where:Naha, Okinawa, website with map
Last visited: January, 2012
As expected of a warehouse-sized multistorey bookstore purportedly selling over a million books, Junku-do has half a floor devoted to manga. The BL manga shelves span the width of the building, and the BL novels section is directly opposite and just as well-stocked. In addition to tankoubon, there were also a selection of magazines and anthologies. Even better were the BL displays elsewhere in the building, including one featuring Nakamura Asumiko’s work. They also have a small Shounen-heavy selection of English language manga.
K-Books (Osaka branch)
Where: Osaka, website with map
Last visited: January 2011
If you’re looking for secondhand BL manga and novels in Osaka, this is the place. They had such a huge selection that I didn’t even get time to check out the store’s higher floors (though my travelling companions informed me it was mostly hentai anyway). If your nearest Book Off doesn’t stock BL or only has a small selection, K-Books is a much better alternative for pre-owned manga in excellent condition.
Mandarake (Shibuya branch)
Where: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, website with map
Last visited: March, 2013
Mandarake hardly needs any extra advertisement from me, but if you’re looking for ceiling-high, library-like stacks of Japanese BL and doujinshi both old and new, look no further. Mandarake is especially good if you’re looking to buy whole series, as I was able to find a few supposedly out of print tankoubon that had been missing from my collection. On the way in you should considering picking up a supermarket basket if you’re planning to buy up big. Mandarake also sells anime merchandise, CDs, and a goodly selection of hentai (though I never went into that section).
Where: Shibuya, Tokyo, website with map (BL is on 3F)
Last visited: October, 2012
Book Off is a national chain of second hand media shops (in addition to books, they also sell DVDs and games etc), but not all of the hundreds of branches sell BL. Last time I was there though, the enormous Book Off near Shibuya Station certainly did. If you don’t mind buying good condition second hand manga or are looking for out of print items, Book Off is extremely economical. If I ever live in Japan for any length of time, I will be using my pittance of an entertainment budget at the nearest BL-selling Book Off.
Where: 2nd Floor above the Subway directly outside Xi Men Metro Station Exit 2, Taipei, website
Last visited: April 2013
I originally found this store by trawling through a Chinese-language forum, and I do not exaggerate when I say that this is the ultimate mecca for Chinese-language BL manga and novels. Although the shop is obscure and tiny, it has compactor upon compactor of all the latest and relatively recent Chinese-language yaoi in Taiwan, including those distributed by tiny publishers I’d never even heard of. The proprietoress (or perhaps the owner? She certainly seems to live on the other side of her desk) can also order you in things. In addition to manga, she stocks BL novels, a small selection of translated doujinshi, and some second-hand BL too (I picked up some fascinating 90s yaoi this way). Kannmiya is also cheaper than buying at a larger store and provides you with plastic covers for your purchases.
(That being said, the lady owner runs a bit hot and cold whenever I’m there — sometimes she’s extremely friendly, other times she asks me condescendingly in Mandarin whether I understand what she’s saying. You’d think the fact I’ve bought literally over a hundred tankoubon from her would clue her into the fact that I have more than a rudimentary understanding of the language.)
(Yes, I’m conflicted).
Where: 2 locations in Taipei, Japanese website with maps (scroll down)
Last visited: March 2013
Animate is, of course, a very well known manga and anime merchandise chain even outside its native Japan. While I generally don’t think the Japanese branches are anything to write home about, the two stores in Taiwan are remarkable simply because there are so few similar retailers in Taiwan. As you’d expect of a store whose parent company owns the BL publisher Libre, both Animate branches in Taiwan sell a large range of BL — they also get the new releases faster than they’re technically supposed to be available. Even better, in the Xi Men store they also have a small range of BL merchandise (Viewfinder billfold ahoy!) A major annoyance about buying from Animate in Taiwan, though, is that they insist upon proof of age whenever you buy 18+ items. Yes, even if you send your grey-haired 60-year-old mother to buy them for you, they’ll still check her passport and birthdate. I know this because I sent my mother on my behalf. Repeatedly.
Pacific Sogo (太平洋 Sogo)
Where: 10th Floor, 246 Dun Hua South Road Section 1, Taipei, website with transport instructions
Last visited: January 2012
Pacific Sogos are as prevalent in Taiwan as Walmarts are in the US. OK, maybe not quite that prevalent. But for reasons known only to the department store’s managers, this particular branch of Sogo (and not the other one diagonally across the road) has a bookshop on the 10th floor. This particular store is basically a Japanese bookshop transplanted across the brief expanse of ocean separating Nihon from Taiwan. So Japanese is it, that none of the books within even bear local price tags in Taiwan Dollars. For all I know they accept yen as payment. Anyway, they do stock some Chinese books, but all of the manga, game guides and art books are the Japanese editions, which holds true for the decent multi-shelf array of BL. So if you’re after yaoi in the original language and for some inexplicable reason are in Taipei instead of Tokyo, this is where to go.
Where: Kinokuniya Hanshin Arena Store Kaohsiung, webpage with address
Last visited: March 2013
I have a very soft spot for the Breeze Centre (微風店 )Kinokuniya in Taipei because it is literally where my full blown BL obsession was first sated, but I actually more strongly recommend the Hanshin Arena branch in Kaohsiung. Although they only have one chest-high shelf of BL, I’ve had tremendous luck in picking up some manga I hadn’t seen elsewhere. They also sell BL novels (only popular and recent releases), and art books! I discovered and subsequently bought an imported Yamane Ayano art book there unexpectedly during my last visit.
(The photo on the left is at the Breeze Centre branch, but you get the idea).
Where: Xin Yi Store, Taipei, webpage with address in English
Last visited: December 2011
Eslite is a Taiwanese chain of bookstores that include Taiwan’s first 24-hour bookstore, which puts a new spin on staying up all night reading. Not all Eslite branches sell BL, or even manga, but the Xin Yi store has a half-shelf of yaoi. It’s not a particularly extensive range, but is nonetheless noteworthy because they stock some older titles long since bought or returned to the distributor in other stores. And going to an Eslite this big is an experience in itself.