Everyone talks about how print media (also known as "dead trees editions," if you're a terrible person) is on its way out, and while the claim may still be contested, it seems that Shonen JUMP is throwing in the towel, at least in the US. Viz Media's Brian Piech announced at NYAF today that the print version fo Shonen JUMP will be gone from shelves by April 2012. Instead, the magazine will transition completely to Shonen JUMP Alpha, a digital equivalent available on Viz Manga website and on Viz Manga's iOS apps (and more channels in the future).
Non-Luddites will, potentially, have much to gain from the transition. Freed from the strictures of paper and the overhead associated with it, Alpha will be releasing new chapters at a near-simultaneous rate with the Japanese originals, starting with powerhouses like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Bakuman, Toriko, and Nura. To make up for the existing difference between Nippon and the US, Viz will be initiation what they call a "warp", releasing chapters digitally at a rapid pace and ensuring that readers will be completely caught up by launch day.
Shonen Jump Alpha will launch on January 30th, 2012, and come out weekly from then on. Being a magazine, it does cost a nominal amount of money, though. Yearly subscriptions are available at $25.99 (same as print costs today), but readers can opt for a "trial" subscription, where players can "rent" an issue for four weeks at a mere 99 cents per. The latter option is good for folks who aren't interested in all that "archiving" junk and just want to keep up with their favorite manga as it comes out.
Some significant stuff is afoot in the industry. First the formation of Funico, and now Shonen JUMP Alpha? A lot of the things otaku have been claiming as justifications for not using legally-licensed channels are being provided. Are you prepared to join the fold?