Tokyopop: Manga Novels A “Really Tough Sell In The U.S.”

By Ishaan . February 5, 2011 . 12:00pm

In an ongoing feature that addresses queries from their fans, Tokyopop recently touched upon the subject of publishing manga novels in the U.S., an endeavour they say isn’t quite feasible for a number of reasons.

 

The first obstacle, according to Tokyopop, is the matter of placement at retail stores. Do manga novels belong in the manga section or alongside regular novels? What section do they belong in, young adult or sci-fi/fantasy? At the localization end, there’s also the matter of increased translation costs, due to the large amount of text.

 

For this reason, all novels currently published by Tokyopop are given rather short print runs. Slow initial demand means a shorter run, which means less opportunities for new readers to discover novels over a period of time.

 

As far as digital distribution is concerned, Tokyopop say they’re looking into the possibilities of publishing novels digitally, which means there’s still hope for making them available to a wider audience than they are now.

 

If you’re curious to learn more, Tokyopop also specifically point to different problems with various novel series such as Full Metal Panic, Gosick and Romance of the Twelve Kingdoms to explain what the publishing challenges associated with each one are.


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  • Zero_Destiny

    Manga Novel? Are we talking about Light Novels here? I’ll just assume that’s what we’re talking about. If so I would love to see some re-prints of their older novels or at the very least see them through digital means. I always wanted to read the the Welcome to NHK light novel. Too bad I don’t have $400 to waste on it. lol It’ll be nice to get it someday.

    • Darkrise

      Yeah, Gosick was mentioned in there and it’s a Light Novel. I guess this explains why I haven’t seen it at all in stores… I so want to read the novel.

      • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

        I wonder if Gosick is better in the novel, because the anime is good, but is way too predictable, and i wish the MC had a little more of brain D:, i still cant belive how he could have doubted that Victorique didnt exist in the last chapter… i was like… “…… -_-’ ” It would have been ok if it was the 1st chapter… but after all that happened…

        • M’iau M’iaut

          That was the first episode that diverged drastically from the novel, although I’ve heard the Avril thing may be simply more a change in timing. I too thought that whole memory thing was a little overdramatic, but it is an anime. I’ve never thought the purpose of the author was to create grand labyrinth tales that can’t be understood until the final page, but simply to act as framework for the leads.

          That being said, it does appear we will be moving into the first ‘grand secrets’ arc, detailing some understanding of who are half the folk and events alluded to in the opening.

          • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

            Yeah, so far the only reason im watching Gosick is because of Victorique xD (and is a first time i watch something because of 1 character, i really want to know more about her and her brother >80).
            Meh, so far the best anime that started in January have been Kore ha zombie desuka and Fractale

          • Zero_Destiny

            Don’t want to but in but I’ve been enjoying GOSICK. I haven’t really read the novels though so maybe it’s different for me. But I love mystery series and the first case on the boat reminded me of 999 so it was pretty cool. If not a little cliche I did predict the culprit the second they went through the roster of charas on the boat. lol I love the two shows you listed but I’m really loving STAR DRIVER, To Aru Majutsu no Index II, Level E, and the anime adaption of Beelzebub. Hope it means Viz won’t be too far on releasing the manga in English now.

          • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

            @Zero_Destiny I hope Star Driver releases here, dubbed, of course.

          • Zero_Destiny

            @Sawda Oh god I SO hope it does come out here dubbed too

          • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

            I am actually quite pleased with the January anime release this year, in my opinion much better than the last, though I find Rio Rainbow Gate and this Cardfight!! thing to be a waste of space.
            Koreha zombie and Fractale are great, even if I was kinda “surprised” by the “magical girl” in the first episode of Koreha zombie xD

          • M’iau M’iaut

            @ Raioh

            That sounds like you got something against chainsaw carrying magical boys who flash their panties when they transform.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aunna-Terrell/100001267508146 Aunna Terrell

            @ Raioh
            lol if something is pretty big in Japan, it’ll be adapted into an anime eventually, hence the case of Rio. There’s gonna be another pachinko game series (Sengoku Otome) that’ll be out later this year as an anime.

          • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

            @Aunna Terrell

            I know, I never said I have anything against Rio and her games and cameos, just that the anime is kinda useless, Rio was never made to be an anime, though I can just ignore that, as I already said, am quite pleased with the animes this year.

            @M’iau M’iaut

            Never, I am the first supporter of crazy awesomeness! :D

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aunna-Terrell/100001267508146 Aunna Terrell

            @ Raioh
            lol and I was just saying that if it’s popular in Japan, it’ll get an anime. XD No matter how useless it is… people like stuff like that and it’ll sale.

  • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

    I thought the idea of novels behind them are odd, mainly because I love manga for the koala tea art that is associate with them. The audience for them must be even smaller than the ones for their associated manga series, print on demand seems like a better option I think.

    • Zero_Destiny

      Well light novels and manga are kind of different. They have a different style. It really comes down to the author’s skill. In manga (well in ALL comics) the main principle is to show don’t tell. Exposition in this medium often times kills it or at least brings down the enjoyment. It’s why many manga/comic makers try to find a good way/excuse to make exposition work. While in novels it’s perfectly natural. That’s only one example of how the writing style differs. Basically light novels are more wordy that’s how they work. That’s why series like Bakemonogatari are very successful as a light novel. They focus very much more on words and puns. Something that wouldn’t translate well into manga. Now whether you like them or not is up to you and it’s perfectly okay if you don’t like them. At least thankfully for you many successful light novel series get turned into manga/anime, like Full Metal Panic, To Aru Majutsu no Index, and Haruhi Suzumiya.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

      A light novel is basically the Japanese equivalent of a novella, with a few(I think 5-7) illustrations here and there.

      • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

        I always saw it basically like the Goosebumps novels. R. L. Stine had young adult novels like Fear Street that are probably more closer, now I think about it, but I never read those.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          That’s a great comparison, and lays out another difficulty the genre faced, the limited experience US readers had with its ilk. Outside of the Stine novels, fantasy pulps have been basically dead since the 70s. They served the same purpose of a light novel — quick to read, and easy to proceed to the next book in the series in a month or two. They even might have included a sketch or two, not including the near bare breasted Amazoness on the cover who had nothing to do with the book!

          An exception to the throwaway nature of such reads is a series of books Jack Finney did that were called illustrated novels. The best of these is Time and Again, a time travel period piece where the hero travels to 1880s NYC and falls in love.

          • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

            Goosebumps also had those choose-you-own-adventure styled books where at a certain page you’d have choices. One choice goes to one page and another choice goes to another page. That always remind of some visual novels and where you were set on a trail path (or whatever it’s called, family-tree path…?) and I’d try to explain to people who might have been familiar with those books.
            Of course, if you came across a bad end you can always go back if you have you thumb still on the previous page ;P

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Those and the whole set of fantasy battle books like the Games Workshop team did also have been lost to the memory of current fans. Series like Lone Wolf got to some two dozen or more books, where in its case you literally could follow the same character you created throughout. Steve Jackson’s Sorcery did similar.

            Queen’s Blade is an entire Japanese media franchise started by taking one of the systems and replacing orcs and warriors with half-dressed teenage girls.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

          I think that’s a fair comparison. The only thing that separates a novel from a novella(a.k.a short novel for those who don’t know) is word count. I think 50k is supposed to be the defining line. It could more or less though.

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    Omg i just came out of taking a bath and i was thinking about welcome to N.H.K haha, its so cool, i wish it was more popular

  • http://backloggery.com/wanderingmind WanderingMind

    Digital distribution for light novels would be a good thing and would work out better, in my opinion.

    • mirumu

      I agree. Sell then in ebook formats. I’d buy.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Others are trying that method, look at the Lunar novels. From a business standpoint it’s still an early process.

    • http://www.cclarke.me Christopher Clarke

      I too would love to see proper digital distribution for light novels. Hopefully they would also acquire distribution rights for those of us outside the United States. Far more accessible and lower cost of distribution.

      Most web fiction while thought as (web) novels, tend to be closer to the length of light novels. That is just an observation though – I haven’t gone through and totaled up the word counts or anything. By definition, it’s completely digital distribution. :)

  • Saraneth

    Don’t light novels have very few pictures, if any? In that case, they could just be sold alongside normal novels.

  • Caligula

    The difficulty of selling the books is likely only compounded by the fact that a lot of people probably go online to read fan translations instead. Too bad, really.

    • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

      Ew, how can people get enjoyment out of reading fan translations online…the image quality often is terrible! At least for the series in our monthly English Shonen Jump, since it seems like they are maintaining stable consumer sales, I guess there are a good 251K people who still find it worth it to get it on print.

      Though without a mag circulating, I wonder how difficult it is for Tokyopop’s series to sell?

      • Zero_Destiny

        I’m glad you don’t support scanlations! Yay!!!! But this is different sadly. These are for the most part NOVELS. So people just type out translations and upload them and presto there you go. No reason to scan in the pages of just words in Japanese. lol

      • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

        Because there is no other way to read X light novel in english?

        Lets say, To aru no index, i love the anime so i went and check out some of the online translated light novels, so i could know some of the stuff that happen after the anime.

        And, for example, if they suddenly were to announce they are going to release the first novel in the US, but it would already be like 2 (or more?) years later, of course, i myself, would buy it if it gets released phisically in english, but only because i really love to have the real stuff in my hands, but im sure a lot of people will feel ok just knowing what happened later, and wont buy the novel.

        I must say, there are 2 main problems here, first, the time they take to release the stuff, they just take too much time to localize something (or decide to bring something), so of course this takes us to the problem 2, the internet, people will obviously go to the fastest way they can know what they want to know, and it is, google.
        It is really hard to fight stuff like this, ads would be something that help, and maybe bonus items with the light novels

        • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

          I can’t imagine that the companies can really translate faster without hiring more staff, if I read the credits right, alot of the series have the same translator so they are stretching those people a lot for translation. But thats probably beyond the point, why do people wanna subject themselves to poor image quality? Or maybe they are doing it to stay caught up and will buy the series when they officially release in their country?

          Is length of time really an issue though? Arent people in Japan reading online scans too, Japanese raws?

          • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

            Yes, because is not the time they take to translate, is the time they decide to bring it, i mean, you could take 2 months to translate it all, but it wouldnt be that good if its 2 years after the japanese release -.-

          • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

            Perhaps negotiating the rights from the Japanese publishers is more of an issue than the time to bring it out and fitting it into the schedule so people arent over swamped with series to get. If every series came every other month,well people would get backed up pretty fast on the series, lol.

            Though isnt Kodansha USA gonna try to release their series every other month?

          • mirumu

            It seems to me the current model for localization is really inefficient. The companies can’t keep up, and don’t want to give any credibility to the fan translators for legal reasons, and some of the fan translators really cut corners as you say and ultimately aren’t giving anything back to the creators beyond increased publicity.

            I think everyone would be better off if the fan translations were legitimized. Pay them a fee to do what they will do anyway freeing up the existing professional translators to work on other titles, edit and quality control the results and sell through official channels. If they were released as ebooks then publishing costs would be minimal, and any that sold well could be given print runs. The creators would of course get their cut too. Seems to me this would be more sustainable, and would avoid all the wasted man hours.

      • https://twitter.com/#!/Ojsinnerz Firo_Prochainezo

        If you’re so against fan translations and such, why do you watch fansubbed anime online? Yeah, you buy quite a bit of stuff, but it’s not like you can buy everything.

        • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

          The series I watch all are streamed through their own companies, ie One Piece on funimation, Bleach through Viz Anime’s portal. I actually havent been watching anything other than those two online. Everything else Im a fan of I get on DVD/Blu-Ray when they release (my previous Bleach, and One Piece, and Naruto, oh and now FMA: Brotherhood and Disgaea) soon Soul Eater on Blu-Ray baby!!!!

        • M’iau M’iaut

          Anything on Crunchyroll — Gosick, World God only Knows, Dragon Crisis and perhaps with Tsuna something like Rio, is also legally licensed. Their days as a pirate site are behind them, which was something I took a bit of convincing of before I chose to subscribe.

          It beats having to watch streams with commercials.

          • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

            Im so glad there arent commercials on the one piece official site for funimation anymore, though they used to at times be interesting (I think Ive seen at least every Dragon Quest IX commercial), but if I wanna rewatch the episode later in the week then its on hulu with tons of commercials, gah!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000301072427 Mark Shaver

        I wouldn’t know what the heck was happening in Naruto without them :D

        Surely you can understand?

    • M’iau M’iaut

      I’ve checked out a few of the scanlation sites just to get a feel. It saddens me folks will follow such things when they are obviously so hack job; but I guess free is what you pay for.

      • Ren

        Better having a hack job than having no job at all just because they still don’t got a place on the american market. I would love to be able to read Durarara!! and Toradora and Baccano done by professional translators that have to put a quality product and are not only doing it on their free time because they want for the other fans of the series who can’t read japanese to be able to have a basic understanding of the novels outside of spoilers or guidelines, but I know it’s not a easy issue, and if a bad translation form a series I love is all I have, it’s still better than nothing.

        Although I would only buy them if they released them on kindle. I hate importing products from the USA, principally books, and it’s not like I’ll need them on my hands, I only own two physical books in English anyway.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          The states are getting Toradora in the spring and Spice and Wolf is proving quite a little success. The Tokyopop article got it right in that the timing of releases was not the best — but all that proves is they did nothing to support product which needed it. Like I mentioned below, the American market was just badly misunderstood, and by folks who understood it about as well as anyone. The saddest thing is the article also basically states the US market will not give things another chance.

          It does seem a bit more smarts are being shown in the marketing now. Spice and Wolf is largely pegged as a fantasy novel, right down to the collectible book covers. Manga appealing to a bit more literary bent is also being marketed different from say Bleach or Naruto.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6LUTW37KMMARAM2U7YBQYVTC3E Ian Pete

        That is because it is not available in their country that is why they resort to scans. Same goes with anime. Seriously, I tried to watch Gundam 00 episodes on Crunchyroll since my local channel here in the Philippines stops airing it but because of country restrictions, I can’t watch it resorting me to watch fan subs… same goes with Mobile Suit Gundam.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6LUTW37KMMARAM2U7YBQYVTC3E Ian Pete

        That is because it is not available in their country that is why they resort to scans. Same goes with anime. Seriously, I tried to watch Gundam 00 episodes on Crunchyroll since my local channel here in the Philippines stops airing it but because of country restrictions, I can’t watch it resorting me to watch fan subs… same goes with Mobile Suit Gundam.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6LUTW37KMMARAM2U7YBQYVTC3E Ian Pete

        That is because it is not available in their country that is why they resort to scans. Same goes with anime. Seriously, I tried to watch Gundam 00 episodes on Crunchyroll since my local channel here in the Philippines stops airing it but because of country restrictions, I can’t watch it resorting me to watch fan subs… same goes with Mobile Suit Gundam.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6LUTW37KMMARAM2U7YBQYVTC3E Ian Pete

        That is because it is not available in their country that is why they resort to scans. Same goes with anime. Seriously, I tried to watch Gundam 00 episodes on Crunchyroll since my local channel here in the Philippines stops airing it but because of country restrictions, I can’t watch it resorting me to watch fan subs… same goes with Mobile Suit Gundam.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6LUTW37KMMARAM2U7YBQYVTC3E Ian Pete

        That is because it is not available in their country that is why they resort to scans. Same goes with anime. Seriously, I tried to watch Gundam 00 episodes on Crunchyroll since my local channel here in the Philippines stops airing it but because of country restrictions, I can’t watch it resorting me to watch fan subs… same goes with Mobile Suit Gundam.

    • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

      I don’t think it is so drastic as it sounds, I read online too, but still buy everything that releases here, and I’m sure a lot other fans do too, as Mangas are not really that expensive, even less when you follow just one or two.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Robborboy Paul ‘Chinny’ Chinn

    A manga novel? Eh. Isn’t that like calling say, Harry Potter a picture book because it has an illustration every chapter?

    • http://twitter.com/sheleigha Shel

      Maybe in America… I was unaware copies even HAD pictures in them

      • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

        At the beginning it had drawings, of the author herself o.o

        • http://www.facebook.com/Robborboy Paul ‘Chinny’ Chinn

          Just took a look in a couple of them. They have pictures at the begining of every chapter. My Lord of the Rings omnibus has illustrations, as well as Alice In Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass. Halo Evolutions also has an illustration at the begining of each short story.

          Just a bit silly to call it a “manga book” if you ask me.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aunna-Terrell/100001267508146 Aunna Terrell

            I think it’s just to “easily identify” it with the anime and manga fans who follow TP’s English releases. Most fans who get into anime and manga from stores, and not from the internet or more experienced people, don’t know all the lingo till they learn it later from researching. So they’re “educated” by the companies here.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      I’m not sure why they’re using that manga novel phrase. Light novels are what they’ve always been called, but again it’s TP, who likes to come up with their own buzzwords for everything.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Robborboy Paul ‘Chinny’ Chinn

        Ah, that makes sense. I don’t really follow Tokyopop much. Pretty much all of my manga/light novels are YenPress or viz.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          Thinking a bit more on it,. I’d suspect it’s part of the ‘lifestyle brand’ thing that guy’s been trying to do since the MIXX days. If you establish an audience that comes to you for particular products, you can work similar but unrelated products into buying habits if put under the same umbrella.

          You can take something more akin to American graphic novels, with more pictures and less text than a Japanese light novel — and call it the unique product ‘manga’ novel. They had success taking existent Japanese ‘influenced’ comics and rebranding it OEL, Amerimanga, Global Manga or whatever they are calling it this week. Yes, it caused a bit of nerd rage, but those titles have been far and away their most profitable.

  • M’iau M’iaut

    It was asking the stateside market for an awful quick evolution when you had that original explosion in the early 2000s. What experience the major chains had or could draw from within the marketplace was limited and by the time they really got a clue, broader popularity had already largely run the course. And that earlier experience was almost always tied to the adult sections of say a Tower, Virgin or local shop; something the new retail players actively tried to admit existed. I actually commend Borders and B&N for keeping the shelf space allotments they still do.

    The whole light novel genre was indeed unknown outside the core. That being said, larger works such as Twelve Kingdoms and Brave Story deserved more advertising pop from their respective US publishers. They at least did find their way to the ‘new fantasy’ sections, where they did not suffer the endless wall of spines that plague the manga sections. Perhaps the novels would have been suited to a cobranding/marketing arrangement with translations of Japanese crime and horror novels, which had already found a literary audience.

    And oh hell ya Victorique-san wants more US Gosick — we’ve gotten two of like twelve of an ongoing series. Same with FMP as that’s the only way we’re gonna get more of our Kaname and Sagara “why doesn’t he just marry the damn girl already” goodness.

    • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

      So there is still more stuff after FMP the second raid?!

      • M’iau M’iaut

        Stateside has seen like 3-4 novels of again a series now in double digits, and that doesn’t include a whole mess of related materials.

        • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

          :(
          D:

          T-T

      • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

        I think in Italy and in France(at least I saw them there) they even publish the FMP Sigma Mangas, which tells the stories after the Second Raid…damn language barrier, I know I should have learned France when I had the chance >_<

        As for the Novels I don't have the slightest clue, it's kinda sad that I have to read third rate translations on the internet(and the good part really starts after the Second Raid too..) when it could have been in store…

    • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

      You included Borders?! Borders book chain is on the verge of collapse after years of declining profits and I think it was said publishers are not giving them books.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        They still exist and the manga sections I’ve seen were rather prominent in both size and location. They have however largely curtailed related materials — plushies, artbooks and the like you once were able to pick up alongside the manga.

        • Zero_Destiny

          The Barnes and Nobles near me use to have like two or three book cases (like a whole row and a half) dedicated to just manga. :( Sadly it’s dwindled. Now all we get is half a bookcase for manga in the comic book section.

      • Aara_Malik_Davoodi

        From what I’ve read on the matter, it’s Borders in the UK that’s close to going bankrupt

    • Zero_Destiny

      More advertisement wouldn’t hurt. I never knew the NHK novel even came out in the US and I never even heard of GOSICK until I came across the anime of it. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was translated in English. I mean Tokyopop’s announcement of manga isn’t really that big but their manga usually doesn’t fall under my radar but light novels. Oh boy you have to actively look to find anything about them. Just glad Bandai was able to get the word out for Haruhi Suzumiya. At least I knew about that. I blame Tokyopop’s website too. It’s junk and pain to navigate. It’s so full of flash. A better website might help to better advertise your stuff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749504598 Shane Guidaboni

    I still buy certain manga at the bookstore. Bakuman, for example. I want to read and own the whole series as they release it. However, for series that aren’t out in America, I will go to fan translation sites to read them because I have no other way.

    • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

      I love Bakuman!! (Shujin and Saiko!). But how do you hear of series that arent out in America? There has only been one series that I found, like that, and that was Seikon No Qwaser because of a trailer I think I saw of it when I was on youtube one day, fortunately, months later the manga released here (volume 2 soon, and volume 3 is listed in the summer, thanks Tokyopop!)

      • Zero_Destiny

        I think three volumes of the Bakuman manga are already out. I have two of them on my shelf right now.

        • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

          I got the 3rd one this week, gonna read it once I finish Toriko v 3. So excited!

          • Zero_Destiny

            Oh so you did know Bakuman was out in America. Silly me. Well if you’re talking about how do we hear about series that aren’t on American TV or something than this site here. It’s my Silicon Era of anime lol:
            [http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/]

          • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

            Yeah, they had like three chapters of Bakuman in Shonen Jump last year and it was so interesting that I had to keep going with the series. I glad they release it so fast

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749504598 Shane Guidaboni

            The release schedule for Bakuman appears to be every 3 months. So, volume 4 will be out in May. 3 months is a long wait, but it’s o.k because I know translating is a tough job. Especially if it’s from Japanese to English.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aunna-Terrell/100001267508146 Aunna Terrell

            Each company releases manga randomly. Some do titles every few months, while others (like TokyoPop did at first) did it “based on the time frame it was released in Japan”. But most companies release manga in a decent timely fashion now, with a few exceptions (like any titles in a mangazine).

        • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

          Just three? Is manga publishing in US slower than in EU?(really asking)

          • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

            They only started bringing Bakuman out in August. Though Viz releases Bakuman and a few other series in the UK at least 1 or 2 wks after the US.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

            The French localizers are at Vol. 5. They started in July by releasing the first two volumes together though.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

            It depends on the series. One region gets a head start on the other, but they go at the same pace.

          • https://twitter.com/RaiohV ShinkaRaioh

            Ah I see, I was just surprised because I saw volume 8 in Germany and thought “wtf”, but than I looked again and saw that the first volume came out 2009.

      • mirumu

        In regard to how you find out about series, well it depends what parts of the internet you haunt. Personally I pay more attention to Japanese upcoming release lists, and reader comments, than US ones. Anything I like enough to read I’ll buy the Japanese version and hunt down a translation. With “SAL printed matter” shipping manga and light novels are pretty cheap to import. I do much the same buying anime Blu-rays too, but that’s substantially more expensive.

        Having original Japanese manga around the house also gives me some motivation to improve my own Japanese language skills. I’m hoping one day the fan translation angle will become unnecessary, and that I can just read them unaided.

  • Eddie

    Yea I work at a book store and our manga section has like 4 mangas. Which are Death Note, Chobits, Peach Girl, and fruits basket. These manga are right next to our Dora the explorer coloring books. Placement is a big problem. Most of our customers put all manga on the same level as ben 10, when they fail to understand that manga comes in many different forms. I own the light novel version of Welcome to the NHK and I remember all of my co-workers would ask me why is it taking me more than 3 days to read it when its just a picture book. They were surprised to find that it had no pictures. They just looked at the cover art and automatically assumed that hey look there’s another Naruto. My boss just could not believe that the book dealt with things such as depression, suicide, and poverty. I think book readers should give light novels a chance. They might actually like them better than Dan Brown, or Jodi Picoult.

    • FireCouch

      Just curious, why are they called “light novels”? And what makes them different from normal fiction?

      • Ren

        I don’t really know why the term ‘light’ is used here, but their main difference from other novels, principally japanese ones, is their use of a more casual style of writing(written closer to the way people speak), one that is usually found on mangas; the usage of conventions and tropes normally found on manga and anime; their illustration; a simple writing style without any kind of purple prose and focus on dialog; the fact most of them are not really very long books(most are around the 50000 words range, each Durarara!! light novel is around two to five times that value ‘though) and have a focus on series(it’s not unusual for a series to go up to 15 or 20 books, ‘tough most tend to have far less than that). Some part of them may also be serialized on magazines as short stories, like Haruhi, wich every odd number novel aside from the first tend to be a colletion of short stories.

        Basically, they feel like mangas turned into book form, which is what they are. Although in my opinion they tend to be better than mangas and animes, principally the ones based on them.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        They are the length of novellas, so it’s basically a direct translation. Light novels also are based off existent anime, manga or game licenses (or in the case of stuff like Haruhi or Gosick the original source). As such they are designed for quick reads — i.e. something other than a tankubon to take up the time on the bullet train.

        • puchinri

          I thought most manga, anime and games are based off of lite novels more often than not?

          I always wondered about the length comparison to light novels and most other novels though. I understood they were shorter (and there was something slightly different with format?) but that’s a nice comparison, I’m going to keep that in mind.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            The chicken and the egg are case by case. Sometimes the novels are used to take up downtime in a manga or as gaidens. The Karin/Chibi Vampire novels are examples of this where in the case of say FMP, you had some novels that served as the starting point, then had all the various mangas and anime with the novels adding more afterwards.

          • Zero_Destiny

            Like what M’iau M’iaut said. These are all different mediums that cross sometimes. Not to accuse you of being ignorant but I’ll quickly explain them. Manga is the Japanese equivalent to a comic book. They usually run in a magazine one chapter at a time on a schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly). These chapters are later collected into volumes. Light novels are like the equivalent to novellas. They are short novels that are meant to be a quick read. They too follow a schedule and some light novels run in magazines as well and are later collected in volumes. Anime is animation in Japan. It can be a movie, a show, or an OVA. Just like how many movies in other parts of the world are based off of stories from other sources (like a book or a comic) anime is usually based off of stories from other sources. But there are also original stories in anime. For example many mecha shows aren’t based off of any pre-exsiting stories. Case in point the Gundam series it has writers who make the story for the show. While other series like NARUTO are based off of a manga. Then there’s show like GOSICK which is based off of a light novel. Sometimes if a light novel is popular enough it can also get a manga adaption. Likewise many popular manga get side-stories and tie-ins in the form of light novels. Their different mediums that can sometimes cross. Like imagine Spider-Man. It’s a popular comic then it got a movie and cartoon show based around it. There are also books and picture books based on Spider man. Sometimes good stories just cross many mediums.

          • puchinri

            Well, thanks for the run down I guess, but I already know what everything is. ^u^’
            I know what a lite novel as far as the basics go, but how they’re distinguished is what I didn’t completely get (I’ve heard a few differenthing things).

            My point was, a lot of recent anime are based on lite novels (Haruhi, Toradora, DRRR!!, Baccano, etc). And then I realized, well, some older games are too [(S)MT].

            Although I was considering series that do get novels. But I usually see anime getting novels more than I see a manga turning into an anime and on top of that getting a novel (Code Geass comes to mind for the former case).

      • Eddie

        Looks like you have your answers! ^_^

    • SolidusSnake

      I’m glad Dark Horse managed to keep Vampire Hunter D out of the comic / manga ghetto. At least at Borders and Barnes and Noble it’s right in the Scifi/Fantasy section where it belongs. Good series, btw.

  • Schwer_Muta

    I’d imagine one of the problems with selling light novels are similar to one of the problems with selling VNs. If you’ve even heard of the medium, the odds are overwhelming that you read some fan translation for free first. And it’s hard to sell something that people are used to getting for free

  • http://twitter.com/drachenmeister Chloe

    This article has just reminded me to search for Welcome to the NHK again.

    Rare book is rare.

  • http://amc9988.deviantart.com/ amc99

    No wonder I can’t find a copy of Gosick the xcrime that has no name… T-T

  • PrinceHeir

    i rarely see any light novels here at my bookstore. most of them are either manga or comics.

    oh well i guess digital is the way to go. since the file size isn’t that high and you can easliy download it in mere minutes, same as manga ^^

    but physical will always be the best :P

    • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

      Not even the Death Note ones? (black covered one looked awesome, though I was never a Death Note fan, well I loved the live action movies, that Light!!!!)

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

        It’s been three hours or more since you made this comment, but as of that time, considering that there’s only one Death Note light novel, I’m under the impression that you still didn’t understand what a light novel is… Hopefully you’ve read the repeated explanations that people have made by now.

        • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

          What do you mean? I know what light novels are, I saw the Death Note two before (Death Note: Another Note, which has the cool cover, and then there is Death Note: L Saves the World), as well as the Spice and Wolf ones Ive seen at my bookstores).

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

            … Those don’t have black covers though. At least not to my recollection that is. That’s how come I got the impression you didn’t know.

          • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada
          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

            When someone says “black-covered”, I can only assume that they’re talking about a uniformly black cover.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

            Obviously, I haven’t been to the bookstore in long time…

      • PrinceHeir

        umm there are few cases like the Another Note and Another Holic(same author; who is also the author of Bakemonogatari)

        • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

          Oh Ive just not seen Another Holic in the stores here, but I have seen Another Note.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aunna-Terrell/100001267508146 Aunna Terrell

    idk, I’m not really that big into digital publishing. I like having an actual book in hand and reading it whenever I want and wherever I take it with me. (Same with my manga. lol I don’t own over 200 volumes of manga for nothing.) Can’t really do that with eBooks, since I have nothing to read it on and it’s harder to share with friends imo. A few of my friends and I love introducing new titles to each other and we don’t want to just sit in front of a computer or with an eBook to read a title.

    But really… all the publishing companies have issues with advertising the titles (same with video game companies) and translating. There’s various titles that are better translated on the internet (either with just translation or scanlations) than the mediocre “official” stuff that’s released over here. It’s great having the series out here and available, but it’s not great if they just do a rushed job of “translating” it. That’s one of the reasons why the sales for manga has gone down.. the mediocre translating, the horrid editing, the raising of prices, and so forth.

  • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

    Your first problem? Calling them “Manga Novels.” You deserve to have them not sell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000301072427 Mark Shaver

    WTF? I seriously JUST saw this Novel in Borders not even a WEEK ago @~@

  • Tokyo Guy

    I miss the days when Tokyopop was called Mixxzine and it was this ambitious start up company. Even the early days of Tokyopop were good as well. I kind of most interest in the company once it ceased publication of its magazine…

    The same goes for Viz really. While I disliked some of their practices, they used to be quite good.

    While I have never really cared for anime or manga, there was just something magical about the mid 90′s…perhaps it was the fact that the overseas fan base was so much smaller and thus the publishing companies had to do more to get your money, but now the market is so large they can get away with minimal efforts. Though to be fair, print magazines and such are becoming a thing of the past.

    • Aoshi00

      I used to collect Mixxzines when TokyoPop first started up, it got me into “Parasyte”, the monthly (or bi weekly I forgot) mag ended pretty quickly and later I got the Kiseijuu tankoubon to finish it, awesome manga if a bit gory. I think they had Rayearth, Harlem Beat, etc in it. Yea, there was a time Viz used to be okay w/ Animerica, I still have many years of those old mags stashed somewhere.. there’s no more Animerica only Shoujo Beat left now right? I haven’t followed the US manga scene in so long..

      • http://tristsantithesis.tumblr.com/ Tsunayoshi Sawada

        There is just the Shoujo Beat label used for that line of manga in the US, the mag ceases to exist in early 2010 was it or was it 2009. Only Shonen Jump is left in print (with Yen Plus continuing online).

        • Aoshi00

          Yea, figure it’s gone now. I used to subscribe to Animerica Extra (along w/ Animerica) for quite a few years before they started to replace the Shounen stuff w/ shoujo and then turned it into Shoujo Beat.. nowadays I really don’t follow manga published in the US anymore, so… and monthly print magazines are definitely outdated..

          • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

            The funny thing with Animerica, before it went kaput it turned into a quarterly digest magazine distributed for free at Best Buys. I actually really, really liked their format, but alas, it got so small that it finally vanished.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

        Shonen Jump is the only magazine they still have running. Viz still localizes the shojo titles they pick up under the Shojo Beat brand though.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shonen_Jump_(magazine)#Series

        • Aoshi00

          I subscribed to Animerica and Extra for a long time (even though I couldn’t stand their staff and reviewers), and got the US Shonen Jump the first year just out of curiosity.. Are the US Newtypes still around? Looking back, mags are such a waste of space now that we read everything off the net.. Shoujo Beat was like Extra before they phased out the shounen titles.. I’ve definitely been out of the US manga/anime scene for a long time…

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Lee/518924335 Tommy Lee

            Sadly, Newtype USA was also discontinued. I think it was sometime in 2008. ADV closed down a little more than a year later though, so I guess it something that was going to happen sooner or later.

  • http://ofurotaimu.dreamwidth.org shirokiryuu

    I keep on buying light novels because I’m so afraid they’ll go out of print and I’ll lose the chance to read them…. I have no many I’ve bought, but haven’t read yet.

    I think Zaregoto and Spice and Wolf are my favorites so far, but I’m worried that Zaregoto won’t be continued after Del-Rey dissolved it manga section :(

  • cj_iwakura

    If I recall, the Vampire Hunter D novels were really successful in the US.

  • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

    These are probably the same issues that Seven Seas faced when they were publishing the Boogiepop light novels. They kind of promoted the whole line of the series but never got around to publishing them.
    It’s a shame because they did a really good job. And if you know how Boogiepop is laid out you’d know that’s not an easy thing to do!

  • http://twitter.com/gabriel_may_uk Gabriel May

    Waterstones (UK bookstore for those that don’t know) really seem to not give two sh…not give a damn about manga. I remember working there as a temp and decided on my “free time” (when I wasn’t required for other tasks) to sort out the manga (and graphic novels). And I was told by someone (lets call her frogface…she was a jerk anyway) that I shouldn’t be doing this so much because “manga dosen’t sell well”. Oh and they also removed one bookshelf of manga so that they could sell t-shirts. Yes…T-shirts in a bookstore.

    As for the where manga novels belong, I feel they belong in the manga section, just because it’s easier for manga fans to find them. Still they should make a seperate section next to manga to make it even easier.

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