Spice and Wolf Unveiled!

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!

spicewolf_1

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:

spicewolf_1alt

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!

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468 Comments

Anonymous

Wow, you can’t even sell the cover right.
This could have all been avoided if you just used the original cover.

anon

That picture makes me want to slit my wrists.
First the butcher the book cover, and now they leave us with a fold in the art on the good cover.

Someone please say that all the covers aren’t like that.

Khellamendra

@Chemicult

Your hypothetical situation doesn’t even begin to compare to this on any level. It is in no way even related as a living baby and an inanimate book are not the same thing. When companies make decisions that the consumer doesn’t like then it fails, that’s how the world works. That is completely different from your example and I’m actually mildly disgusted you would try and use something like that.

As far as the whole ‘facing forward’ part. I do believe the majority are talking about when they carry it around with them, want to read it, or would have it laying somewhere in their room. I know if I’m in the middle of reading a book I don’t put it back on the shelf I place it somewhere close so I can pick it up again. I know my mother keeps a small stack of books she’s reading next to her nightstand. If I was to leave that trashy looking cover somewhere in the house, I know people would give it a second glance and then question what I’m reading. I would then have to explain the story which is completely different from what the cover shows and gives an impression of. I have no doubt several of my friends and family would then question why it has that cover and I would have no answer for them.

I hope that the rest of the covers don’t get messed up. I can only imagine how low of a blow it would be to shell out that extra money just to find out the cover you wanted was creased up like the picture that was shown.

Anonymous

Is there any chance of a limited edition with the original cover? I’d actually buy it if that were the case. For now, I’d rather read the online translations that have such an appaling and smutty cover anywhere near my library.

Bweb

I’m going to keep posting in the hopes that my comments will finally be made visible.

Hassler promised us a solution as far back as Sept. 29th. Was that solution to run out the clock and go with the original proposal in the first place?

machineofhate says: “It’s also worth noting that the paper quality of the the cover is akin to that of a fold out poster.”

You couldn’t even provide a QUALITY cover for those willing to shell out the extra $10?

Wow says: “You have people willing to shell out an extra $10.00 for a slip jacket and you ruin it like that with with that cringe-worthy-never-coming-out crease?”

And you damage the cover with a permacrease RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE of the image people wanted?

Tell us again, Hassler, how much you love the fans.

1. Without regard for the fans who support your products, and without consulting them, you replace the original cover art with a badly photoshopped eyesore.

2. You announce the original cover will be made available, but only as an add-in to your magazine, which many people couldn’t get in the first place.

3. When it becomes apparent that fan opinion is against you, you announce a solution will be presented.

4. No solution was ever presented, and we find a cheap quality, mutilated cover in your magazine.

Have I missed anything?

T1

I just read what
@anon; Yes I totally agree. You know normally you don’t give a damn when you live where I live (compared to some places around the world) but I don’t want to read a book with that cover and laugh in the bus making little kids look my way and then get disgusted when they see that cover with a nakid lady.
*suddenly sees an image where a kid gets pulled by his mother who goes: “Don’t look!”*
A great anime moment I could live without. XD

@Hassler (about your last comment…lol), it’s great that you respect and so on….wait, do you really? O.o
Now let’s take the japanese marked: The sales of light novels aren’t that high over there, know why? It’s because youngins normally don’t read novels over there. Murakami changed that but since you probably know how the marked is over there, there’s no need for me to get into it.
Anyway, the thing that makes light novels famous in japan are it’s manga release or better it’s anime release. After people watch the anime, they try to find more stuff related to it. Usually animes leave out a lot of stuff so to get the whole story you read the novel or the manga (depending on what’s out). You probably know all this but I’m just reminded you and the rest of the readers. Don’t mind it^^
Now should we count on how many light novels there are in the states? (of course the japanese light novels) Not that many to be able to state that there’s a huge marked of light novels in USA…of course the marked would be low. We got TP who (sorry) knows how to really screw up so their titles got discontinued (I hope they will finish 12 kingdoms though), we got viz who’s still releasing the few titles they got, darkhorse got nice cover but a few titles and we got delrey with also some novels…oh and seavesea who are still releasing the yuri novels :3 and now you with kieli and more to come. (oh btw how’s the sales of the Kieli novel going? You changed the cover for this one too so it must have told you how the sales goes if you change the cover for a light novel. Atleast the pictures inside are still there…and atleast Kieli isn’t a nakid ravenhaired loli on the cover, thank you for not doing that.)
Count the titles and then compare to how many mangas there are out. Then it will make sense to NOT compare the manga marked with the light novel marked, right? No even if it’s sounds like I’m talking down to you, I’m not. I’m just telling you that it’s kinda bad to talk about how a marked is when it’s all new compared to the manga marked.
Truth be told, the only reason I ended up buying Kieli novel was that I was going to order the manga and then saw there was a novel too. Otherwise I would never have bought it with that kind of cover.
Wait, now that I think about it. Is this the cover of the hardcover or the softcover? I’d don’t even give the damn about the softcover…that one can fail with that kind of slutty front if it want. (Yes, I’m baised when it comes to the stuff I like 😉 )

@Chemicult: So we should wish the company (the brother) to die instead? I think that’s little more overkill than the the novel (kid) >.> lol sorry couldn’t stop myself from writing this. The point in this 410 comment lots thread is that most people don’t want a slut on their cover but the original. If Yen press isn’t allowed to put the original on it or if it’s going to cost them more then make a better cover instead of that. I think there was a guy who made a nice red cover with a shade-horo in the middle of it. That one would be be nice to have if you can’t use the original. Black, red, brown, grey, blue and/or dark green covers with shade-horo’s in different poses in silver, gold, white, black colours in the middle for every volume. This way it won’t look like it’s kiddy stuff and people wouldn’t feel ashamed to read it in the bus/train. It would be like a special edition of a bestseller. XD

@Spia Says:
October 19th, 2009 at 10:57 PM
“And let me add, you guys are pissed at one cover change from Yen Press, and yet you aren’t pissed as heck at Tokyopop’s doings?! They make Yen Press look like a saint.”
Lol oh we did go there and scream them at their forum. I did when they had a forum. You wanna know what they said, more like their “staff” said? “If you don’t like it then don’t buy it!”
Dunno how much you use the net but after that people got pissed and less peoples started buying their stuff, TP quality went further down and suddenly TP stuff appeared on the net. We don’t want that with YP. When you compare them to TP, I will too. Saints listen to the people and then decide….if not then they get burned. History has told us so. Now how do you think people will find out at there’s horo in novel form out in the stores? or when they find that chick on the cover? I can tell you this: TP did censor/edit nakidness…they did not put them in our manga, lol.
YES, I did cry when I saw how much they had butchered the crest of the stars novels when I read them…damn them. NO pics and original cover? WUT, someone said yen press but a little better?
12 is a lot better though even if they aren’t using the same shiny cover as the japenese ones. Still no slut on my books 😉

@Anonymous Says:
“Photo of the magazine-packed cover:
http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e62/InTraining/SandWYPSpecialcoveredit.jpg
Notice the folding. How is it possible to fail on so many levels?”
O-M-G, I feel your pain…there goes that stupid idea from YP, lol. So YP, still got any “great” ideas that will satisfy us “fanatics” who in the end will be the ones that will make the core for this novels success?

@Bweb: I take it that Hassler also got screwed and is now afraid of coming here and telling us that YP doesn’t give a damn about us…which will probably make us rage more and do weird stuff, lol.

Anyways this should be enough for this time…

PS: About retailers…lol if they don’t read the book don’t expect them to tell others about it.
In another simple business term: there’s also this problem to your only one solution. You see if you annoy the “fanatics” they won’t buy your book. Who’s gonna start buying it and then tell others about it? So with your solution it either goes well or it totally failz. Someone needed to think a little bit about it before doing a TP, lol.

Ralph

I love the censoring as a whole that goes on this website. Apparently fans posting their respected opinions and comments get deleted/moderated if there is any sort of frustration or anger towards the company at fault here.

Apparently YenPress seems to think that its once already established audience was not good enough for them this time and decided to completely alienate them by going this route. It truly is a shame because I can guarantee you the novel now will fail miserably with this route of execution.

For all of you who spent the extra money on the magazine and got a bent/defective cover I am truly sorry and it is very sad that a random fan has to apologize on behalf of a company who is at fault and refuses to admit their mistakes. Truly the level of customer support we have seen here is nothing short of terrible.

I hope that in the future perhaps better attention can be paid towards what the established customers want and not what they THINK some random target audience might want.

God speed fans, I pray for the best for the Spice and Wolf novel franchise.

An

Even though i wish yp used the original cover the slip over isnt so bad.
but the only thing about the cove is that the fold cuts right through Holo (the name is Holo for all the people that thinks it is Horo, she even spells her name like that in season 2 so stop bitching about that) truely yp could have done much better but this is beter then making us look at that rtarded US cover they made.
YEN PRESS FIX THIS PROBLEM!!
im sure that a lot of people dont care much about the cover change but the cover that you guess picked was way too UGLY.

An

I forgot to say it is spelled Holo but it is pronounced as Horo. So just say it the say they say it in the anime but the spelling is right.

Ralph

The December 16th release date is right around the corner and I am still not seeing a proposed solution.

This does not bode well for us fans.

hydra

It’s great that Yen Press is bothering to even bring up the issue of the cover with fans, but they seem to keep missing the point of all the complaining – that the new cover is hideous and people want, at the very least, to be able to cover it up with something that looks and feels like an actual slip cover, like the kind you find on other books. I’m happy I didn’t drop ten dollars on Yen Plus if that’s what they’re giving us. Again, I’m still buying the book, but for God’s sake what are you guys thinking?

MechaTama31

@Ralph: Yeah, I’ve had two of my comments fail moderation so far. Not sure why. They don’t give you a reason. You just wait for days and days and your comment never shows up. Because the best way to win back alienated fans is to sweep them under the rug, AMIRITE?

An

@Jessica, yes mine looks like that too
bt its better then not getting anything at all if you ask me
i got bored so i already folded it so it would look like a real cover.
i’m planning on glueing it to the cover of spice and wolf once i get it

HaddenIV

I want to start out by saying that I am glad to see this being published in the US at long last, its a great story that is more than worthy of the import. personally I dont think that the cover change will be quite what is required to make this a hit in the US though, for one the cover change is a bit inappropriate for the nature of the book, sure there are a few parts in the book where there is a bit of nudity but to make the cover some shaded out nude I dont think does this book justice. I almost feel that something like a bag of coins on the seat of a empty wagon would better represent the book in a better light showing the loneliness that both are feeling and the profits to be made and the mode of travel used to find there happiness

aside from the cover, I almost feel that if you all are trying to make the book more popular in America you would probly have to strip all signs of the fact that its even related to a anime/manga meaning removing the pictures and with volume 1 coming in with only 240 pages(after reading volume 1 today I would guess that to come up with 240 pages it was probly larger than normal print size…) you would likely have to double up the volumes so that it actually looks like a proper book then get it in the fantasy section of the book store then just surprise people at the end of it with some sort of note saying to check out the anime version of it oh and scene the first season of the anime covers volume 1 and volume 2 it comes out rather convent if you did double it up.

There seems to be a large portion of the US population that seems to feel that anime is taboo, porbly 75% of the people who see my anime/manga collection for the first time(the ones that dont watch it themselves) one of the first things out of there mouthes is asking if I own any anime porn(of course we all know it as henti) between that comment right there and the other part of the non anime watching community out there that thinks that anything animated is for kids are the two stigmas that are hurting the anime community from growing more than it already has. What we really need here is for a good quality story like this to be stripped of its anime ties and fed to an unsuspecting public who would eat up a story like this if they diddent know its origins but as is will see the cover and if that doesnt get them they will do a quick flip through the book to find a anime style picture at which point the book will get put right back on the shelf

imo redo the cover, reamove all the pictures, double up the volumes so it looks like a real book and then place it under there noses, I would imagine most would like the story if they diddent know it was the basis for an anime and then once they read it and they come to find out that it was the basis for an anime they might just get curious enough to see what anime is really all about once you get passed the henti/naruto stuff

sammy

I was going to pick up a copy of the magazine, but after seeing that picture (thanks for posting it anon) and reading other comments about the fold on the cover, I think I’ll pass.

I was really going to give this a chance hoping that the cover slip was going to be something of quality, but it turns out that’s not the case.

I really hope this series does do well despite it’s terrible new cover, maybe, someday, Yen Press will print out the one with the pretty original cover. Sadly that seems more like a dream now.

Bweb

@ Jessica:

I was going to waste money on their magazine, but since they’re printed, packaged, and shipped all at the same time, I’d wager that, yes, they all look like that.

Jessica

I just cancelled my order for Yen Plus. I’m not going to waste my money on something that isn’t worth it. I’m still going to buy the LN, but it’s sad that I won’t be able to hide that terrible cover.

BTW, am I the only one who is still waiting to hear some official “positive” news from yenpress about this, or has most of you lost hope?

hydra

I’m still waiting for some news about the cover, but I doubt it’s going to be positive. I can’t imagine what kind of solution Yen Press could possibly come up with a few weeks before the novel’s release date. I’m guessing it’s going to be a “yeah, sorry, just deal with the cover” sort of thing with a plea to fans to understand what they were trying to do here. Well, here’s hoping they learn from their mistakes.

An

@Jessica, i lost hope for the first volune weeks ago but im still hoping for good news about volume 2

Robson

Well, i really want to buy this novel, but with this kind of cover its impossible, maybe if the original cover get released with the book i will get it, though i will try to glue it over that modified cover. For now, i will just wait, i really hope something change and Yen sells a lot of copies so the translation dont stop =)

.............

Kinda starting to look like the solution isn’t going to happen and they are just waiting out the clock until the release date. We haven’t even gotten so much as an “Update” or for that matter a word about whats going on with this for a long time.

(Unless the mauled slip cover is the solution of course)

Sabin

Looks to me like they are just trying to make free money now. Granted it is what companies are out to do. But honestly, do they think an original creased bookcover is going to sell to people?

Why do you guys pay money and buy these terrible magazines to support these kinds of companies. Forget for the moment that they are localizing a novel for you and look deeper to the fact that it is going something like this:

“Hey you want this book? Too bad we changed it. Give us $10 more and you can have the original. Except you have to put it on yourself……and its creased……buy our magazine.”

If any company thinks they are getting my money with that kind of marketing attitude they’ve got another thing coming.

civ

You know, I do understand some of the reaction to the new cover being that it isn’t what many fans would have chosen, and yes from the posted picture it looks a little mediocre.

However.

Isn’t all this evil corporation talk a little over the top? It doesn’t make any sense that the publisher would intentionally try to piss people off just so they can sell another copy of a magazine; it’s not good business. It also doesn’t make sense that they’re in it ‘just for the money’ because there are much more lucrative markets than in light novels…its a gamble for them in the first place.

I for one am excited that the translated version is being published in the first place. Hopefully, they’ll have a better idea of what they should and shouldn’t do for the next installment and things can get better.

P.S. I read a lot, including fantasy and sci-fi novels, so I’m used to book covers being MUCH worse than this one….

An

@anon thanks i forgot what ep it was
and yeah i was trying to say that she wrote her name with an “l” for all the ppl that were complaining about yp spelling her name wrong
Holo not Horo

Pippin4242

God, most of these people are giving fandom a bad name. I have to admit that I most likely won’t be buying the book myself, because I find that a lot seems to be lost in the translation of Japanese literature, but I don’t think it’s a bad cover! Don’t know if the original logo particularly suits it, but I’m sure you were trying to please the people who are panning you!

The original art is just terrible. Look at her head-to-shoulder ratio. Just look at it! It’s cute, but it’s utterly generic, and I’m sure the publishers are right – it wouldn’t sell! The replacement art is on-model, and includes her bag of grain, and makes her tail look like wheat and is just generally pretty clever and cool! Are you all just afraid of a bit of casual, tasteful nudity? This is a girl who spends a good deal of her time naked, after all. It fits the plot, it’s not pimped out, and she looks like Holo! (Which is the romanization chosen by the author!)

Bweb

Pippin4242 says: “The original art is just terrible. Look at her head-to-shoulder ratio. Just look at it! It’s cute, but it’s utterly generic, and I’m sure the publishers are right – it wouldn’t sell!”

Right. Because the bestselling covers to the Harry Potter novels followed rules of proportion perfectly, and weren’t at all cartoonish.

Pippin4242 also says: “The replacement art is on-model, and includes her bag of grain, and makes her tail look like wheat and is just generally pretty clever and cool!”

No. It’s a poor effort at Photoshop, with it being blatantly obvious that they created the tail post haste using the Cloud Filter and Gaussian Blur. I’ve seen better quality work on DeviantArt.
The pouch was shopped in so poorly that it doesn’t even look like it’s part of the same picture plane.

Pippin4242 Also says: “Are you all just afraid of a bit of casual, tasteful nudity? This is a girl who spends a good deal of her time naked, after all.”

Ok, one more time. It’s not about the nudity, it’s about the presentation. Even one of Yen Press’s defenders

http://mangacritic.com/?p=2105&cpage=1

compares the cover to “bad werewolf porn”.

Like it or not, people do judge a book by its cover. There are literally thousands of books in the bookstore, and the cover is one of the first indicators of content.
Since even defenders of Yen Press describe the cover as “bad werewolf porn”, what do you think casual browsers in a bookstore will think?

I’m certain that they won’t think about picking the book up to examine it more closely. It looks more like a fetishist novel than what it truly is.

Chemicult

@Khellamendra – I apologize for the mild disgust,It was not my intent. I suppose the example was a little…extreme. The point I was aiming to reach was not comparing life to an inanimate object but rather to speak of the situation that both are in. The arguements are based around (for lack of better words right now) presentation. The book is cover presentation, the name is part of a persons presentation of who they are. With that in mind, my example was saying that those who were wishing failure and “death” on the book and series, for this reason, were being rather “extreme” themselves.

@An – Thanks, I did.

@T1 – Wow. I’m not even sure what to say to that one.

T1

@Pippin4242

Errr….Didn’t you say that you wouldn’t buy it cuz “a lot seems to be lost in the translation of Japanese literature” why do you think that?

It just proves the shit we’ve been saying…changes start somewhere and in this case it’s the cover.

@hadden
You know TP learned from their mistake with “crest of the stars” novels which didn’t have pictures in it…..sad cuz lafiel <3
My hack novels and 12 kingdoms got their pics :3 I love them just like a real fan would. 😛
Changing something to fit makes it different from what it was.

Jonh doe

Dumb cover. art sucks compared to the manga’s intent! I mean the spice and wolf i know is about a love story sort of. I want to read the light novels. But good lord do a better photo shop please!

I mean who works in your quality department?

really?

Becky

I don’t think i would have bought it when it came out if it had that cover on now you got this one, its much better. A definite buy 😉

Hiurro

I think It’s great that your trying to appeal to a wider audience, really I do.
The problem is it just isn’t going to work. Your creating contradicting style that in the end leaves everyone feeling cheated.
Anime, Manga, and Light Novel fans feel cheated because they have a random “Fan-art” copy-paste cover to deal with, and have to find a copy of Yen+, which hasn’t been sold in my area for at least 6 months. Not to mention several people feel embarrassed about how the cover portrays they’re interests to others. (it’s hard enough telling people you like watching cartoons, lets not cause more social awkwardness for this group of people.)
Fantasy novel fans will feel cheated because the cover is artistically completely different from the actual illustrations. It’s not like it’s common practice to put photographs on the from of DVD’s for animated films, so why are we doing it with our books?
Really this is just going to confuse people new to the series, and outrage the anime fans who, as unfortunate as it may be, will probably be the only ones buying the book despite your best efforts.

This reminds me of the story of the judgment of Solomon. the Mother who truly loved the child is the one who gave him up so that Solomon didn’t cut him in half.

Irec

While its understandable that the cover be changed for the western audience, it gone sadly wrong.

Like a bad live action movie.

Since the cover was changed like that I think any kind of change would be possible, so instead of trying to “3d-ify” the original artwork, why not simply going with a realistic photo of something very related to the story itself.

A horse drawn carriage going about on a plain.
That would give a natural western look to the book.
Still keeping more or less to the roots of the story itself, and soon after reading the prologue one would understand that on the cover was Lawrence like setting on his journey..

I’m a die hard fan of original art work and all, but I think I’d be pleasant surprised for such cover (well half of it just now because it was me who came with the idea)

But since there is the original cover sleeve, i guess that has to do, but its such a bother as they always start tearing, or slip from the book.

Alexander

Good idea to change the cover to try to capture a larger audience, I disagree with that choice but I realize you want more money so it’s the right choice to make. But the execution is just so terrible, the new cover is actually repulsive I can’t look at it for more than 30 seconds without having to look away. It’s nothing to do with nudity or anything like that I’m one of the biggest perverts commenting here but the actually execution of designing it. I’ll probably be buying this if I can get the slip cover for free from an online retailer (which thankfully I can) but otherwise I wouldn’t be buying it. I don’t ask that you keep the original cover for the American market I understand your choice, but the replacement is horrible and the idea of putting a slip cover in YenPress magazine or whatever your magazine is at least decent I’d much rather have either the option to buy a paperback / hardcover with the original design from your website or a decent “westernized” cover. I won’t be buying this from a bookstore and possibly not at all if I can’t get something to disguise this, frankly, ugly cover from view for free (which thanks to online retailers I can). It’s not like people don’t translate this and other releases for free and at a much faster pace (years ahead of you). The reasons I want to buy this are support the releases of great books in America and the author who I hope gets a cut of this. It took an effort on your part to get me to consider not buying this, however I will probably still buy this. In the future if you make another repulsive cover with no option to get the real one except paying more or circumventing traditional methods of buying media I will not buy those releases.

Romdeau

Poor decision. The original cover is much more appealing than half naked woman with “intriguing” patch she wears around her neck.

Anon

No just no. Sorry to say but the cover is terrible?

I see what you guys are trying to do, but the original cover is very good already; a wasted effort here that backfired quite badly.

January Loots | Cool and Spicy

[…] one was released just last month and caused quite a stir when Yenpress announced their “updated” cover art.  Not many fans liked the new cover and after lots of complaining Yenpress decided to provide the […]

Spicy

Very dissapointed that you cannot get the original art anymore, the new cover is revolting and crap. yen+ you should make the original art cover be included with the book!!!!!!!

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