Tankōbon (単行本?), with a literal meaning close to "independently appearing book", is the Japanese term for a book that is complete in itself and is not part of a series (similar to a monograph), though the manga industry uses it for volumes which may be in a series.[1][2] It can be used for a novel, a nonfiction work, an economics textbook, a book of beauty tips, a book presenting a coherent set of photographs, an exhibition catalogue that samples earlier books, and so forth in a hardcover format. It is more specific than plain hon, which encompasses such books but also one or more issues of a periodical, one or more volumes (or the whole set) of an encyclopedia, etc.

Tankōbon do not include bunkobon (typically used for novels), shinsho (新書, typically used for non-fiction), or rather larger-format mook (ムック, mukku, a blend of "magazine" and "book"), as each is within a series.

Tankōbon may be of any dimensions, from a miniature-sized novelty book (i.e. mamehon, 豆本) to a sumptuous folio-sized one. Nonetheless, oddly-sized tankōbon tend to be given a taxonomical name. Using English bookbinding terms, a tankōbon of prototypical size would be called quarto or octavo.[dubious ]


File:Tankobon comparison.jpg

Typically, manga are first published in phone-book-sized weekly or monthly anthology manga magazines (such as Afternoon, Weekly Shōnen Jump, or Hana to Yume). These anthologies often have hundreds of pages and dozens of individual storylines by multiple authors. They are printed on very cheap newsprint and are considered disposable. A tankōbon collects installments from a single series and reprints them in a roughly paperback-sized volume on higher quality paper.

In English, while a tankōbon translation is usually marketed as a "graphic novel" or "trade paperback", the transliterated terms tankoubon and tankōbon are sometimes used amongst online communities. Japanese people frequently refer to manga tankōbon as komikkusu (コミックス), from the English word "comics".

The term also refers to the format itself—a comic collection in a trade paperback sized (roughly 13 × 18 cm (5" × 7")) book (as opposed to the larger 18 × 25 cm (7" × 10") format used by traditional American graphic novels). The tankōbon format has made inroads in the American comics market, with several major publishers opting to release some of their titles in this smaller format. This format is also called "digest format" or "digest size". In America, many manga are released in the so-called "Tokyopop trim" or "Tokyopop size" size (approximately 5" x 7.5"),[3] originally introduced by Tokyopop.

Aizōban and kanzenban

An aizōban (愛蔵版) is a collector's edition volume. These volumes are generally more expensive and lavished with special features such as special covers created specifically for the edition, special paper used for the cover, higher quality paper, a special slipcase, and so on. Aizōban are generally printed in a limited run, thereby increasing the value and collectability of those few copies made. Generally only the most popular manga (such as Dragon Ball) are released in this format.

The kanzenban (完全版) is another term sometimes used to denote this kind of a special release. While the aizōban appellation emphasizes the value of the volumes, the term kanzenban emphasizes their completeness.

The aizōban format has begun to make inroads into the US market, with titles such as Fruits Basket and Rurouni Kenshin being reissued in aizōban format.


A bunkoban (文庫版) edition is a typical Japanese novel-sized volume. These are generally A6 size (105 x 148 mm) and thicker than tankōbon, printed on thinner, much higher quality paper, and usually have a new cover designed specifically for the release (in the case of manga). In the case of manga, a bunko-ban tends to contain considerably more pages than a tankōbon. Thus, the bunko edition of a given manga will consist of fewer volumes. For example, Please Save My Earth was published in 21 tankōbon volumes, and then re-released in 12 bunko volumes. If the original manga was a wide-ban release, the bunkoban release will generally have the same number of volumes. The term is commonly abbreviated in Japanese to just bunko (without the -ban).


A wide-ban or waidoban (ワイド版) edition is larger (A5 size) than a regular tankōbon. Many manga, particularly seinen manga and josei manga, are published in wide-ban editions after magazine serialization, and are never released in the tankōbon format that is common in shōnen manga and shōjo manga. When a series originally published in tankōbon format is re-released in wide-ban format, each volume will contain more pages than in the original edition, and therefore the series will consist fewer volumes. For example, Maison Ikkoku was originally released in 15 tankōbon volumes, but was republished as 10 wide-ban volumes.


A shinsōban (新装版?) is a new edition released with (usually) a new cover. The volumes in such a release usually have new color pages and other extras.

See also


  1. Gravett, Paul. 2004. Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics. NY: Harper Design. ISBN 1-85669-391-0. p. 8.
  2. Schodt, Frederik L. 1986. Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. Tokyo: Kodansha. ISBN 978-0870117527.
  3. Brienza, Casey E. (June, 2009). "Books, Not Comics: Publishing Fields, Globalization, and Japanese Manga in the United States". Publishing Research Quarterly (New York: Springer New York) 25 (2): 101–117. ISSN 1053-8801. Retrieved March 12, 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

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