As everybody knows, lately the world has been hit by a bit of a recession, which undoubtedly affected -and still affects- our hobby-related purchases. One of the things I have cut down significantly in is on buying doujinshi; when I would buy “just to try” and see if I got lucky, I now buy only when I know I’m gonna like it. Unfortunately, the online stores I frequent either severely lack on what I want or rarely update their inventory anymore, so for doujinshi buyers things got a bit harder with time. For a long time I learnt how to find and peruse Japanese sites and found quite a few that offered their doujins regardless of events; the moment to use a 3rd service had come!
After reading Aquilla’s Goody Japan review (thank you Aquilla!), I decided to give them a try. When I first heard about this kind of services, I didn’t want to even think about them; I rather be the one doing the transaction than relying my money to some stranger to do everything for me, but desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess (I admit I didn’t do much research for other services such as GJ’s, so I can’t say they’re the best out there).
Following the instructions in their website is pretty easy. You make an account, input your info and when you’re ready to order, fill a form putting the website address, the items’ names, quantity, price and a comment box to put any additional instructions. There are two forms: one for biddings and others for direct shopping. Since GJ mainly works with websites that have a “shopping cart”, you need to ask before-hand if you’re buying from websites that lack it. Fortunately, they’re were A-ok with it and charged me $10 per website (I think it varies depending on the website, but can’t see them charging much more than this).
Afterwards, you receive an email asking for a deposit; in my case it was the total of the items plus local shipping (and the commission too, I can’t remember quite well). Once they get the items, they’ll ask for the rest of the money (as Aquilla said, their invoice is very detailed so you know exactly what each charge costs). They have several shipping options, so choose whatever is more convenient for you and make sure to email them about it.
Now the hardest part came: WAITING. I started everything around June the 23rd, and received the items on July the 25th, that’a a whole month! Since you’re relying on a 3rd party service, you have to add the time it takes for them to get everything, the time to receive and approve your payments and wait until the package actually gets to you. Nevertheless GJ was quite efficient and got things done as soon as everything got approved (I received their shipment notification on the 17th, so it only took five days via SAL).
All in all, I am more than happy at how things came out using Goody Japan, from how easy it was to sign up and order from their website, their promptness to answer emails up to the nice packaging.
Payment: GJ prefers paypal, but money orders and bank transfers are A-ok too. I guess it’s because paypal is faster and just as reliable and these kind of transactions with 3rd parties can get quite long (a month is a pretty long time for me, I guess).
Price (commission fees): considering the astronomical prices some doujinshi sellers ask for, I think GJ’s fees are more than reasonable, especially if you intend to order several items from the same website like I did. I calculated more or less what I spent on five doujins and how much it costed with Goody Japan, and in this case it was cheaper than most.
Service: costumer service was very good, they answered my emails a day or day and a half after I sent them one and always notified me if items were sold out or anything that might need my consideration.
Shipping: GJ has several options, but you need to tell them before-hand or they’ll send everything via EMS, which can be a bit pricey if your items aren’t that expensive. It is a good option when you are buying expensive things like dollfies or premium items, though.
Packaging: My doujins came between two pieces of cardboard and wrapped in nice bubble-wrap, everything inside a paper envelope so my books arrived pristine and safe. I give GJ a thumbs-up for great packaging (I know of an online store that charges you extra for “handling fees”, couldn’t figure out what that meant yet, maybe something to do with packaging or dealing with your order?).
Final thoughts: my only recommendation is that only people who more or less can navigate through Japanese sites and want items that are either extremely rare, expensive or downright impossible to get outside Japan use a 3rd party service, since it can get just as costly as ordering from regular online stores.
My order: five doujins and a panflet with a circle’s info.