Light novels have a short but checkered history in the U.S. market. Conventional wisdom holds that they don’t sell — that it cannot be done. I have to say, though, that I’m just not convinced. What is a light novel, really? It’s a novel. It’s a book with spiffy illustrations. Sure, there are some distinct challenges when it comes to positioning these books in our market, but ultimately there are a lot more readers of novels out there right now than there are readers of manga and comics. That’s a huge potential audience, and we really want to help our novels realize that potential. These are great stories, and we’re proud to be introducing them to whole new readership.
Of course one of the main challenges we face is with presentation. We love the original designs of the novels we’ve licensed from Japan. Love them to death! The unfortunate reality we face, though, is that these designs that we adore, while they work brilliantly in markets where manga is ubiquitous, tend not to be impactful with more general audiences here — and we want everybody to enjoy these books! So the challenge we have to undertake is to come up with new cover designs for these fantastic books in hopes of garnering for them the readership they deserve. I am therefore proud to present you — for the first time anywhere — a sneak peek of the cover for Isuna Hasekura’s much anticipated novel, SPICE AND WOLF!
Pretty strikingly non-manga, huh?
We think this design really captures Holo’s playful spirit in a way that will appeal to fantasy audiences. At the same time, though, we certainly know that some of the existing SPICE AND WOLF fans out there might have a harder time embracing this new direction. What we hope, though, is that those fans understand our reasons for making these changes and will turn out to support this property that they know and love and in turn support the success of light novels in general in this market so that one day — hopefully! — we’ll be in a very different place where we can confidently and successfully utilize the original cover art for these books. What I’d really like to see come to pass is the day where light novels are actually bringing new readers into the manga community!
And for those hardcore fans who just can’t live without the gorgeous art gracing the original covers (a sentiment that we certainly understand), we’re doing something a bit special that we’ve never tried before. In the December issue of our Yen Plus magazine, we’re going to be offering a special gift — a limited edition slip jacket fitted to the novel’s trim size:
We hope you’re all as excited as we are to see SPICE AND WOLF hit shelves in December complete with all of the original interior illustrations, and we hope you’ll all help to make this unique and wonderful novel the runaway success it deserves to be!