How to spot bootlegged art books from anime/manga

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Hi and welcome, I hope I can inform anyone who is planning on buying art books of anime or manga series's finds this useful.


Basically, an art book of a manga series is a coloured collection of artworks that appear in the manga that were printed in black and white in their normal manga released version. It can also include artworks also by the manga creator that have not been released in the manga as exclusives. These books have only images for 90% of the book except for the end, where it is often to have some guides to using copic markers (a tool of the trade in Japan for colouring, as seen in the Naruto Illustration book) or a black and white version of the art in the books with a blurb about them (as seen in Clamp artbooks). If it has more than this, then it is a bootleg.

An anime art book differs because they are normally screen captures of the actual anime release, and have detailed captions about the story line and the characters. These come under the catagory art books as well. These books normally have a fair bit of writing in them along with images, normally about 50/50 of each. It is best to research these even more so to make sure you are not getting a bootleg.

To make sure your book is the real thing, there are several things to look out for:
  • Check the location of the item. Generally, most art real art books will be from Japan, as that is where they are made. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but this is one thing to look out for.
  • Art books sell between $20 up to $200. Anything cheaper has a 90% chance of being a bootleg brought brand new. Second hand ones are generally cheaper.
  • Art books NEVER come with CD's.
  • Generally, bootlegs will also have scans of fanart in it as well. People take pages of the original manga and colour them, and the bootleg creators often use these in their books. While the difference in colouring style is often obvious, the only true way to know if this is so is if you are familiar with the fandom surrounding the art book you are buying. For example, a bootleg of the Naruto Illustration book I found had a picture of Sasori in it that was a coloured image of the chapter cover he appeared in. I knew this because I download the chapters before they are released in the official manga, and the downloads often come with coloured pictures people have submitted.
  • Art books very rarely come with Hard Covers. Most art books, unless limited or special additions, have a soft cover with a dust jacket. It is a good idea to research on fansites details about the art book you are after, in this case, but anything with 'hard cover' written in the description should be avoided.
  • Before searching on E-bay for your book, go online elsewhere and find an image of the front cover of your art book. This can be a very good way to avoid bootlegs.
In any case, like most bootlegged items, they are of poorer quality to the original, and the paper is generally thinner. Most art books in Japan use a thicker paper with a sheen on it to make the pictures appear shiny if the paper is rolled and looked at. It is quite common for more than one type of paper to be used in all art books (as seen in the Cardcaptor Sakura books) but always look out for that. Also, most listings with official merchandise will have only two or three scans in it. Bootlegs often have a lot more.

I hope this has helped anyone out there who, like me, is a great lover of art books ^__^
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