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Are Light Novels Dead Here?


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Dark Elf Warrior



Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 228

PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 9:18 pm Reply with quote
Veoryn87 wrote:
The only lite novel series I read is the Vampire Hunter D series. I find it in the sci-fi/fantasy section of Barnes and Noble rather than the manga section, so they must be aiming it towards a more mainstream crowd. I'm not exactly sure how well it's working, but it must be doing better than Kino No Tabi for them to have 9-10 volumes released already (out of 17). I guess it kinda makes sense since Hideyuki Kikuchi doesn't like anime that much.


Like I said, Vampire Hunter D is aimed more at those who like scifi/fantasy, and horror. Even though I like anime, I do have a thing for fantasy and plan on getting Vampire Hunter D myself.

Also, for everyone wondering why light novels might be dropping is also because anime fans want to read manga. They go to a bookstore to the Japanese manga section, expecting to open a book and find black and white images, with dialogue bubbles. Not a page full of text. But I do agree that The Twelve Kingdoms and Slayers are very good. I hope they continue The Twelve Kingdoms, and as for Slayers, I really hope they didn't drop them, and continue.
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Super_Vegeta



Joined: 13 Oct 2008
Posts: 141

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 7:04 pm Reply with quote
I think the big issue with light novels is translation. I'm not expert, but what I've heard from others is that Japanese doesn't translate well into english.

So not only do these novels need to be translated for content, but they'll practically need to be re-written in order for the story to have proper english sentence and grammer structure.

This would be time consuming and therefore expensive.

Additionally as has already been mentioned a big draw for manga and anime fans is the artwork, and since light novels ussually only have a few pages of art withing the book itself (and the cover) not all manga fans are looking for just a regular book.

That said I've started ONE novel series so far and thats Full Metal Panic! I must say I was surprised, its actually very well written and quite enjoyable. ( I mean hey its not tolkein, but its still quite well done (IMO)) I was more surprised after reading the first volume of the novel at how faithful the anime series was to the novel (which was the source material). That said I've only finished volume one of the novels so there's still plenty of time for the story of each to deviate.
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momamario



Joined: 25 Dec 2008
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 7:21 pm Reply with quote
Everyone says light novels didn't make it here, and I'd agree with them to some point; Japanese translated light novels didn't make it here.
We still have plenty of what I would call light novels that were written by English authors (some are pretty good)
A fair amount, however are targeted at a younger audience (much like comics and cartoons in the west).
Really what it comes down to is what defines a light novel?
When I think of one, I think of easy reading, fast paced, usually a larger focus on dialogue and the fact that it comes in an unnecessarily large amount of shorter books.
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nagato316



Joined: 04 Mar 2009
Posts: 306

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:30 pm Reply with quote
Looks like I gotta play the Haruhiist card again...I don't have numbers in front of me, but I figure if Little, Brown Books/Yen Press are going ahead with the release of The Sigh of Haruhi Suzumiya later this fall, sales for The Melancholy must have been pretty strong to warrant this decision.

Okay, maybe that's just one title...a title attached to an already very well-known franchise...but if sales of the first Haruhi light novel are any indication, perhaps light novels aren't a done deal yet in the US.

Although, with the economic turbulence that the publishing industry in general has been encountering (not counting e-books), all bets are admittedly off.
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Artiselene



Joined: 10 Jun 2009
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Location: Texas

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:18 pm Reply with quote
While, admittedly, I don't read a substantial amount of light novels myself, I do, however, believe that the medium still as room to become a viable part of the market.

Richard J. wrote:


If they'd marketed them as just new and interesting novels, I think they might have gotten more sales overall.



I have to say this is certainly a way that light novel distributors could reform their products to garner more sales. I think that if they do market light novels as a form of more legitimate literature, then there's quite a possibility that sales could increase.

Kamikaze Girls for instance, is considered to be a light novel (and one of the few I've read). I, personally, liked the way that VIZ designed the cover. It looked like a book - with a hardcover and everything - and not a manga like other light novels - which feature anime art on a glossy paperback (at least the ones I've seen in bookstores, like Only the Ring Finger Knows and Strawberry Panic). Kamikaze Girls also turned out to be one of my favorite works of literature I've read period - I thought the English adaptation was done superbly.
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Symmetrical_Magician



Joined: 15 Aug 2008
Posts: 273

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:38 pm Reply with quote
Dark Elf Warrior wrote:
I hope they continue The Twelve Kingdoms, and as for Slayers, I really hope they didn't drop them, and continue.


I love both these series as well, and they are the only light novels I have outside of Haruhi. Unfortunately, I think the Slayers novels were only a temporary thing, encouraged by the anime's success, and when that died down, the novels were dropped. It only goes up to what is roughly the end of Slayers NEXT. I don't think it's a good sign that the only way to purchase the novels in my area is to order them specially. Certainly, forcing people to deliberately seek them out isn't going to boost sales enough to change Tokyopop's opinion.

In terms of how some of these novels are being marketed, I'm going to mention that Borders puts Twelve Kingdoms with the manga, but Barnes and Noble had it with the regular novels. Does anyone know who decides where these are shelved? Placing them in the manga section (unless you can only understand them with prior knowledge of the series) annoys me, because whether they were translated from Japanese or not, they are novels.
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SalarymanJoe



Joined: 03 Feb 2005
Posts: 467
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:36 pm Reply with quote
cool3865 wrote:
i actually enjoyed the Dirty Pair light novels, it was a well written sci-fi/action/adventure book that even the mainstream people could pick up and read


This is exactly what I was going to say. I don't know where you picked yours up but I found one national bookseller that actually had them in the science fiction section. Even though I am most familiar with the Dirty Pair anime I too was amazed at how much the novels read like a science fiction novel.

Dark Elf Warrior wrote:
If only Tokyopop or Viz would release the Record of Lodoss War novels, they may get more out of it. I have seen the anime, and it is very good. Its a Dungeons and Dragons type fantasy, but it is liked among anime fans as well.


It's not just a D&D type fantasy - it's based on an actual D&D game. The original novels in Japanese were what is called a "replay novel"; a published version of the actual transpirings of the game. What I don't know is how literal it is - if it's just a collection of notes and recollections strung together by the author (/DM) or if it includes "Deedlit" letting loose a rauchy Cheeto's-fueled fart causing him to botch his roll during the epic dungeon fight. Honestly, the second one sounds a lot, LOT more entertaining to me even though I love me some Lodoss War.

Of course, I would like for them to publish the replay novels for Lodoss, regardless of whether or not they contain the game sessions or, contain the game sessions, and they should through them in with the D&D novels (do they still publish those? last I tried to read them was Dragonlance ... christ I'm old... ).

Super Vegeta wrote:
I think the big issue with light novels is translation. I'm not expert, but what I've heard from others is that Japanese doesn't translate well into english.

So not only do these novels need to be translated for content, but they'll practically need to be re-written in order for the story to have proper english sentence and grammer structure.


uh, I hope I am mis-reading this.... but the dialogue in manga has to go through the same process. Sure, novels are more text intensive so they probably take longer to get from translators' desk to the bookshelf, but they have to be no more "rewritten" than your average manga.
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no.8



Joined: 29 Mar 2009
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Location: philippines

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:43 am Reply with quote
good thing for you guys you were able to buy one.still there are no available stuffs here in the Philippines.hope someday I could get one.
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ProsesRoses



Joined: 22 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:32 pm Reply with quote
I've never read a light novel but I would LOVE for the Baccano light novels to be translated but seems impossible at this point.

Light novels just seem like novellas with a few pictures. I think the key to selling light novels is to NOT to market to anime/manga fans only and to NOT put them in the manga section of a store. I would only do that if it has a strong, pre-existing western and dedicated fanbase like Spice&Wolf. Repackaging is basically a must.

First - Omnibus a few novels together for appropriate thickness or by story arcs.
Second - Re-design covers with no obvious anime pictures
Third - Put it on appropriate shelf (sci-fi, fantasty, YA, etc)

On another note: It strikes me that Vertical, Inc. would be the most likely publisher of light novels as they already do prose novels but they would be taking a huge chance.

Novels by Japanese authors (ie. H. Murakami) aren't new or weird but with anime pictures? Yea, that would be weird for a general or anime-oblivious reader.
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adam_omega



Joined: 29 Aug 2005
Posts: 220
Location: Seven Seas

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:26 am Reply with quote
The problem with light novels are...
1) they cost about 3~4 times as much as a single volume of manga to produce from start to finish,
2) there isn't a big enough fan base for them (i.e. it's a niche of a niche),
3) bookstores don't want them, but even if they did...
4) there are just too many darn books in the series that people want,
5) and the series that people want... fans have already fan translated entire 20+ volume series like A Certain Magical Index for free and put them in easy to download pfd and epub formats.

Unless there is a low or no-cost option available to translate/edit/release light novels quickly and easily in a crowd-sourced way like the fan translation groups do, then light novels are doomed to never take off in North America.
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ProsesRoses



Joined: 22 Mar 2013
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Location: Canada

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:48 pm Reply with quote
adam_omega wrote:

Unless there is a low or no-cost option available to translate/edit/release light novels quickly and easily in a crowd-sourced way like the fan translation groups do, then light novels are doomed to never take off in North America.


Excuse me, but what world are you living in? So professional translators and editors who have degrees (most likely master's as well), years of experience and time should be paid little to nothing for their work is okay?!
Amateur work by 1st or 2nd year Japanese students who don't even have a translation degree (they are two separate things) is laughable in world of translated books. Translation of prose is an art. There are awards for it.
This is PROSE, which takes a lot more effort to make translated language actual natural sounding prose than comics who quite frankly don't even have full sentences most of the time.

Light novels should be treated as books first and foremost, and like other translated novels out there, they should not be treated cheaply or else it will be laughed by the literary crowd. Fansubs are fine if you just want to know what's going on but in a legitimate bookstore where H. Murakami books are translated by well-known university professors with decades of experience?

I agree with your other sentiments but not on the paying cheaply for translation issue.
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Touma



Joined: 29 Aug 2007
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:34 pm Reply with quote
ProsesRoses wrote:
adam_omega wrote:

Unless there is a low or no-cost option available to translate/edit/release light novels quickly and easily in a crowd-sourced way like the fan translation groups do, then light novels are doomed to never take off in North America.


Excuse me, but what world are you living in? So professional translators and editors who have degrees (most likely master's as well), years of experience and time should be paid little to nothing for their work is okay?!

Adam is not saying that the professionals should be paid less. The problem is that paying the professionals to translate a novel is so expensive that publishing the novel is not profitable.

Adam Arnold is intimately familiar with the problem.
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ProsesRoses



Joined: 22 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:30 pm Reply with quote
Touma wrote:
ProsesRoses wrote:
adam_omega wrote:

Unless there is a low or no-cost option available to translate/edit/release light novels quickly and easily in a crowd-sourced way like the fan translation groups do, then light novels are doomed to never take off in North America.


Excuse me, but what world are you living in? So professional translators and editors who have degrees (most likely master's as well), years of experience and time should be paid little to nothing for their work is okay?!

Adam is not saying that the professionals should be paid less. The problem is that paying the professionals to translate a novel is so expensive that publishing the novel is not profitable.

Adam Arnold is intimately familiar with the problem.


I see Adam works for seven seas entertainment. It didn't seem like it because translating issue was reminding me of manga scanlation issues of which most if not all western manga companies are against -- I would think it'd be the same for light novels. Well I had a couple suggestions for a new marketing strategy up top.

I wonder what would happened if you took out all the anime/manga pictures and published it as a proper book, if it would sell better? (I think the changing the cover is enough, readers can be pleasantly surprised by additional illustrations).
Translated novels do fine on the book market but perhaps the way light novels are marketed that people get a confused perception of what a light novel is.

If I were to look at the covers of light novels (judging a book by cover if you will), I would think I was looking at manga (which is a turn off to some general audiences), not actual prose work.
Doesn't help that that cover tells booksellers to put them in the manga/graphic novel section where comic readers aren't looking for prose stuff in the first place.
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population_tire



Joined: 31 May 2007
Posts: 536

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2013 2:03 am Reply with quote
adam_omega wrote:
The problem with light novels are...
1) they cost about 3~4 times as much as a single volume of manga to produce from start to finish,
2) there isn't a big enough fan base for them (i.e. it's a niche of a niche),
3) bookstores don't want them, but even if they did...
4) there are just too many darn books in the series that people want,
5) and the series that people want... fans have already fan translated entire 20+ volume series like A Certain Magical Index for free and put them in easy to download pfd and epub formats.

Unless there is a low or no-cost option available to translate/edit/release light novels quickly and easily in a crowd-sourced way like the fan translation groups do, then light novels are doomed to never take off in North America.

6) Seven Seas licensed novels no one had heard of. Haruhi novels hadn't even been licensed yet when Seven Seas tried to make their light novel line. If they had licensed a few novels that already had a semi popular anime then they could insert ads in the back, and continue to build the light novel line and license more lesser known series over time. The problem was releasing a bunch of unknown series at once.
7) Seven Seas insisted on releasing them in a ridiculous size despite the fact that several fans voiced their concerns.
8) Seven Seas has terrible marketing. I never see them advertise anything. The exception being a single insert in the Boogiepop anime series collection and a Boogiepop ad in Otaku USA when they had a sample DVD with episode 1. And those were both years ago.
9) Seven Seas gave up on the light novel line incredibly quickly instead of trying anything to save it.
10) I believe it was you who said on the forums when the light novel line was canceled a few years back that it would be possible for the 3rd(?) Shinigami no Ballad to be released as an ebook instead since the text was already translated. Well now tablets, Nooks, Kindles, and iPads are popular but there's been no attempt at ebook exclusivity for light novels either. (Bookstores don't want them? Here's the solution.)


I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but instead of blaming everything else it'd be nice if Seven Seas actually took a part of the blame for their light novel line failing as well.
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Chagen46



Joined: 27 Jun 2010
Posts: 4246

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:16 pm Reply with quote
adam_omega wrote:

Unless there is a low or no-cost option available to translate/edit/release light novels quickly and easily in a crowd-sourced way like the fan translation groups do, then light novels are doomed to never take off in North America.


This is the real clincher, I think. I once came up with an idea for a crowd-sourced site that licensed Light Novels and translated them in PDF format, with print-on-demand for those who wanted to own dead tree versions (as I assume most readers of light novels would), but the idea is just too risky from what I've seen.

LN fan-translators appear to be more entrenched in the 4chan-subset of anime fan culture, and therefore are very negative towards working for money or someone licensing their translations. Yes, one could just rip their translations (since they technically don't own the rights to do them) but that will KILL any chance of peaceful communications with them.

I really would love for light novels to become more popular among anime/manga fans in the west, but given that western culture in general abhors reading...sigh.
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