The future LN market in English


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    A general discussion of the future of LN in the west whether that be 5 or 10 years down the line, or even 50.


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    One thing I would like to see in the future is a simulpub, where the English translation come out at the same time or up to one month after the japanese release. I can see Yen On being able to do something like this or maybe Bookwalker.


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    The issue with simulpub is that not even the Japanese publishers have everything ready until only just before release. So they can't give much in the way of the resources for an English Publisher to have enough time to release at the same time as Japan.

    In addition, very few translators can go through the whole volume in a matter of a few weeks at most. The only one off the top of my head that could do it that works with J-NC would be Steiner considering the insane publication rate Isekai Smartphone started with.

    The only fan-translator off the top of my head that could translate and release something within a week would be jso6 who does the Index LNs. And he might be the fastest translators for LNs in existence.

    Assuming you clear these hurdles, it would end up only working for digital releases as the US production process for printing and distributing books across the US (which is a massive country by the way) takes quite a long time. Retailers/Distributors need to be told around 8 months ahead of time for what'll be coming out so they can prepare. (This is also why license announcements happen so far in advance.)



  • I think the people who suggest simulpub novels are just plain evil!
    You know that translators are people too!
    They eat, sleep, and poop! (If you haven't noticed poop is the most important one of 'em all! Like you gotta spend an hour a day in the restroom, double it if you're old and triple it if you're married)
    They ain't elves in Sam's basements (even though, some of his words may suggest otherwise)

    In all seriousness though, a novel, 50k words won't be translated in matter of hours (I know manga of 20 pages with no more than 30-60 words) or days like a manga chapter with less than 1k (in the most extreme cases) would!

    It might be more reasonable to ask for simulpub for titles that are serialized in a magazine.


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    One thing I would like to see is for this sort of thing to go away entirely:

    Regional restrictions

    It has been the bane of my online purchasing history ever since I could do so.



  • Well, here's my thing.
    In the future, I want no LN market...

    Ok, hear me out, lemme finish what I got to say.







    I want to be more of Japanese Fiction market.
    I think I said this before, but I really think that there are thinks that are marketed towards LN-reader can appreciated by general audience and vice versa (or even Japanese LN that can be easily marketed towards general audience)
    However, LN is more associated with anime geeks and stuff, more than just a form of pop Japanese literature.

    I'll quote from Sam interview post and some other posts:



  • @unsynchedcheese
    I'll say that will keep haunting ya.
    Like Hyouka is licensed (in English) for Southeast Asia region, so no one can have WORLDWIDE license!
    Well, I get my fix physically via special orders of a local bookstore (I ain't Asian or European though...There ain't that many choices left, I guess)


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    LN are still fairly cheap in the US, especially digitally (6.99-7.99 per volume). It would be interesting to see if the market would adjust and spend more for longer works and bigger / better quality packaging. On Bookwalker, there are the cheaper works that cost 600 JPY digitally (~$5.15) on average, and then the, I assume, bigger works cost about 1200 JPY digitally (~$10.30 according to Bookwalker). We kind of meet those two prices in the middle right now. Would Westerners meet that higher format price or more ($11.99 digitally? How about if it was flat out double at 13.98-15.98 digitally?), or would they scoff at it?

    Besides that, I wonder if non-fantasy element stuff will ever catch on here. I feel like it might take a publisher that specifically caters to stuff, the way Cross Inf caters to Shoujo, to build up a market. We certainly have a few ongoing things from Yen On (A Sis is All You Need, SNAFU), but not much else.


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    @drone205

    Yen on the company that took what 2 years to get a single volume of no game no life out? Good luck with that.


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    @catstorm said in The future LN market in English:

    Yen on the company that took what 2 years to get a single volume of no game no life out? Good luck with that.

    1 year and 3 months to be more precise.

    Based Yen, giving us the authentic Japanese experience. /s


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    @terrence Japanese Honkaku mysteries have always published at standard rates in the US as midlisters. Its just a very different market than the LN market. Try Six Four for an example.


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    @alocervancouver said in The future LN market in English:

    @terrence Japanese Honkaku mysteries have always published at standard rates in the US as midlisters. Its just a very different market than the LN market. Try Six Four for an example.

    True. But do you think the Fantasy LN fans would pay 16 dollars for a digital copy of The Magical Power of the Saint is all Around for example? That has the 1200 yen price.

    I'd assume the publisher could work something out to lower the price for US markets since the page counts vary wildly between all the formats. They probably already have (Unwanted Undead Adventurer is listed at 1139 JPY on Bookwalker for a digital copy, but only 6.99 US on our EBook stores).

    There are some of those bigger page count books though (600+) that Sam has discussed maybe changing elements of the credit formula of JNC around to accommodate.


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    Mysteries, sci-fi, and other genre fiction like LNs work in the midlister sphere in the publishing industry. There always are going to be those problems because of a dedicated fandom and the inability to brute force sales like you can with bestsellers. Because media production per unit in ebooks is a near zero marginal cost proposition (I am not trying to downplay the fixed costs in publishing and distribution), it is much trickier to build a sustainable industry when a guy/gal/other can function as a one person publishing and distribution if they are passionate enough to invest their time and resources. I think about Rokujouma's fan translator in that sense. That's j-novel's most problematic part of the business model, to figure out how to rent seek when the above environment applies. Sometimes you compete, sometimes you co-opt (think Rokujouma), and sometimes you have to calculating (some say cruel and cynical) about what can be operated in this space between fan production and bestseller.

    My counterargument is always the Walter Benjamin one. A work of art made in the age of reproduction finds its markets and customers as it may. The publishers want to sell, then they have to figure out how to structure the market. The publishers or galleries don't want to sell but the art is sufficiently compelling, art still is produced in the artworld, and fans find a way. A publisher who cannot make this work profitably is doomed, but art remains. However, by our support as customers, we can make art production more viable to people who can offer something different rather than always having art be the provenance of the starving poor and the rich.



  • Admittedly, I skim read (if you can even call it that) a LN when I do look at one. That said, considering many LN vol. are 250-400+ pages, translation time is an issue. If it was 150-200 pages, translation time might reduces by mere hours or a few days (maybe a week at most, if possible).

    A thing that does help, from practical and licensing standpoints, is if a LN title is a short series. For the purpose of this discussion, I talking about it being 5 vol. or less. Also, while licensing negotiations are happening, all LN vol. (main and side-stories) have been published.