A dōjinshi convention is a type of fan convention dedicated to the sale of dōjinshi, self-published works. Dōjinshi conventions are usually referred to as sokubaikai (即売会, literally "display and sale event") or ibento (イベント, from the English "event”). Thousands of dōjinshi conventions take place in Japan every year, but dōjinshi conventions are also held in other East Asian countries, and sometimes outside that region as well.
Dōjinshi conventions are one of the most important distribution channels of dōjinshi. Most are small-scale occasions with perhaps a few hundred participating circles, but the larger ones can attract tens or hundreds of thousands of participants, making them important public events in Japan. Comiket, the largest of all dōjinshi conventions, attracts 35,000 sellers and over half a million individual visits during each of its biannual editions. Most conventions are organized by the amateur creators themselves, and most focus on the sale of dōjinshi that are fanwork.
There are dōjinshi conventions in many different sizes, on different schedules, and with a different focus. Many are recurring events, held yearly, twice yearly, quarterly, or even monthly. Many large conventions are "all genres" (オールジャンル, ooru janru), meaning that they are multi-fandom events that welcome creators from all possible fandoms or “genres”. Comiket and Niigata Comic Market are examples. Some dōjinshi conventions welcome cosplay activity as well.
The focus of smaller conventions is often narrower, and smaller conventions are also more likely to be one-off events. Many smaller conventions are “only events” (オンリーイベント, ‘’onrii ibento’’, also called "only dōjinshi markets" オンリー同人誌即売会, onrii dōjinshi sokubaikai). This means that they feature only dōjinshi about one particular fandom, one particular character, or one particular pairing or fannish trope. Many conventions feature not just fanworks but also original (創作、sōsaku, or also orijinaru) dōjinshi. Some conventions focus entirely on original works, for instance COMITIA, a long-running convention that attracts several thousand dōjinshi circles with every edition. Sometimes a themed "only event" takes place within a larger convention, with the organizers of the "only event" reserving space and signage for their smaller event in a hall shared with other "only events" and often a larger umbrella event. These conventions-within-conventions are also called "petit only" (プチオンリー, "puchi onrii"). They can focus on the same themes as the "only events" that occur outside of a larger convention.
Months before the convention, organizers begin solliciting participants online and via flyers that are distributed at other conventions and in dōjin shops. The pamphlets contain information about how many spaces are available for circles, how many cosplayers can apply, and so on. Interested circles and cosplayers can usually apply by filling in the form attached to the pamphlet, or by using an online application service like Circle.ms. Visitors to dōjinshi conventions usually do not need to register either beforehand or upon arrival at the convention.
The main activity at dōjinshi conventions is the sale of dōjinshi, although some conventions include cosplay or other activities as well. Participating dōjinshi circles sit at long rows of tables with their works displayed in front of them. They are usually grouped by fandom and sometimes also by the pairings on which their works focus, and visitors get or sometimes buy a convention catalog or flyer in which the location of every participating circle is indicated. Visitors move between the rows of tables, leaf through dōjinshi that catch their eye, and buy them by paying the circles in cash.
Although the “for fans by fans” ethos among dōjinshi conventions is strong, not everyone present at dōjinshi conventions are fans or amateurs. In Comiket’s 2004 summer edition, “5 percent of all circles participating in Comike were headed by a professional manga artist or illustrator, while another 10 percent had some professional experience”. Erotic game producers also allow artists to sell sketches as dōjinshi. Especially the larger conventions also often allow some involvement of media companies. Many kinds of companies support dōjinshi conventions through sponsorship, direct participation, or providing various necessary services. Comiket, for instance, has a “company area” where mostly media companies sell or give away goods and merchandise. Art supply companies and dōjin printers also have booths at many of the larger conventions.
Some dōjinshi conventions include: