I go away for a couple of minutes months, and I almost miss this:
Behold! The US cover for the Spice & Wolf light novel.
And because I can never say it enough: Yen Press, I love you. Now if you can only get this shelved with the YA Fiction, we can be best friends 4ever.
As a long-time bookseller, I consider the light novel the bookstore kingdom’s zorse (right): an odd hybrid with no ready-made place in the world. Certainly, light novels don’t belong in the manga section, where they’re currently shelved. Most manga browsers pick up a light novel, and realize OMG, words (meaning they can’t read it in the 30 minutes before class starts). They then toss the book back on the shelf, where it will stay until that fateful day that we can return it to the publisher.
In contrast, the YA Fiction shelf seems like a much better fit. And, if I may…
Too many manga/anime fans consider buying optional, an infrequent way to “show support” & have something pretty for their bookshelves. Most regular book buyers, on the other hand, buy books so they can read them (how quaint). In addition, YA Fiction, particularly YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy, sells well and to a much, much larger demographic than manga. Yen Press’ attempt to expand into that market (i.e. the book-buying one) is incredibly smart.
As for this particular cover, it’s not bad. It doesn’t do it for me personally (shadow boobs, headless torso), but it screams YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and thus hits the marketing nail on the head. For comparison:
Of course, it’s never that simple. Because (thanks to Katherine Dacey’s excellent post) I’ve realized that some fans are outraged–outraged–that Yen Press has defiled this masterpiece with its Westernized porn!
Some representative comments from “Mike”:
Really bad cover. Instead of manga fans, you’re bringing in Twilight fans and sleazy romance novel fans with this.
Don’t say you’re “appealing to a wider audience” because you’re concerned that the novel won’t get the attention it deserves. You’re doing this to make more money. Anyone should be able to see that.
I like how Mike (and others) separate the publisher’s attempt at “appealing to a wider audience” from making money, i.e. sales. Hello, they are the same thing. And, as Yen Press is a for-profit business, they’re always doing what they think will make them more money.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to make money, but there is if it’s at the expense of the product. Most fans of S&W would not want to have a book with this cover on their shelves. I certainly don’t.
I like, too, how he uses the spectre of “most fans of S&W,” i.e. the people who’ve learned about the series through illegal fan translations, i.e. the very people who consider buying optional & would’ve ended up settling for their fan translations anyway (because, you know *shrug*, the recession…).
And honestly? While I get that a lot of manga fans hate Twilight, etc., the general stigma against manga/comics is oh-so-much-bigger. Mothers will buy their kids YA books with naked lady covers way before they’ll let them read something packaged like this:
In short: Yen Press, get on with your bad self.