If there were English-language audiobooks available for popular light novel series, would people buy them?

  • Hi guys,

    So I'm a fan of Japanese literature in general and recently stumbled across the world of Japanese light novels, which led me to J-Novel Club. I'm an audiobook narrator looking to combine my interest in Japan with my work, and I wondered whether you thought these series were popular enough in English-speaking countries to justify producing audiobooks of them? J-Novel Club seems like a fantastic way to get these novels to an English-speaking audience, and there is clearly an appetite for them - perhaps there would be a way of working with J-Novel Club in order to achieve this? Releasing audiobooks alongside the ebook releases on the site, perhaps?

    Basically, are there enough people out there who would be willing to pay $10-20 for an audiobook of a popular light novel, or is it just too niche a market? I know that's a pretty difficult question to answer as it depends on a lot of factors, but I'd really appreciate any input you would have as this whole world is still pretty new to me!

    Cheers guys :)

  • Premium Member

    I would buy audiobooks, I bought wound tale a few months ago

  • @Ztshp Ah yes actually I had heard a few people mention that one... I actually should have been clearer in my initial explanation. The way Kizumonogatari was produced was technically as an audio drama rather than an audiobook in the purest sense - it has multiple narrators, and music/sfx to help with the storytelling. I'm talking more about one narrator doing all the work with no music/sfx, like Jim Dale or Stephen Fry with the Harry Potter books. This is one of the only examples I could find of a light novel that has had this treatment (although this one does have two narrators and was originally based on a manga): http://amzn.to/2jgeomZ

  • Premium Member

    I love audiobooks. Listen to at least 20 hours a week, and yes, I would love to listen to light novels in audiobook format! I sometimes listen to text-to-speech if I really want to finish an ebook fast, but it is pitiful compared to a professional narrator.

    I like both audiobooks and audio dramas. A good narrator can produce dozens of characters of multiple genders each in a distinct voice, so an audiobook with just one narrator would be fine with me.

    However, if you base it on number of reviews, I'm not sure the 3 audiobooks that Vertical put out were very popular, unfortunately.

    Also, I am not sure if Kizumonogatari & Attack on Titan contained images in the print version like all the light novels from Yen Press and J-Novel club do, but I would have preferred them to be included in a PDF like some audiobooks come with. There might have to be some system of noting the timeline in the page so you wouldn't be spoiled, though.

  • @erictbar That's great to hear that you'd be interested in the idea. Obviously I'm biased, but I'd definitely agree that a professional narrator can do a much better job than a text-to-speech program! I grew up with audiobooks with a single narrator doing all the characters' voices, and certainly agree that they can be really fantastic to listen to, without the need for a large voice cast.

    I checked out Vertical's releases of the Attack on Titan audiobooks on Audible.com, and I do see what you mean about the reviews. One thing I would say, though, is that an audiobook's success tends to be directly proportional to the success of the original book itself. I checked out those books' Amazon bestseller ranks and saw they're ranked at roughly 149,000 and 463,000 in the listings. Compare that to, say, Sword Art Online 1 (ranked at about 23,000), Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, Vol. 1 (35,000), or Konosuba, Vol. 1 (22,000) and you can see that there are other series out there that are much more popular (which makes me wonder why Vertical chose Attack on Titan to begin with... maybe because of the pre-existing anime/manga fan-base, although I suppose it proves that success in one field doesn't necessarily mean success in another).

    Anyway, maybe I'm clutching at straws, but my experience tells me that there are audiobooks created for Western novels with far worse Amazon rankings than those I mentioned, so I do feel like there is potential there, but then again who knows. That's a great point about the images that I totally hadn't thought about - I'll definitely have to figure that one out if this ever goes ahead! I'm sure something like a timeline could work though, as you suggested.

  • Premium Member

    I've never really tried an audio book before and I assume I would be in the majority. Considering the small community of light novel readers, I should think marketing towards a niche of a niche would be a not so stellar plan.

  • Premium Member

    I haven't read the OP yet, but there are audio books up for a few Light Novel / novels that got animes in the west:

    All You Need is Kill (1 and only book; goes by the name Edge of Tomorrow in audio book form; Hoopla link if your library has that)
    Check out Edge of Tomorrow on hoopla digital.
    https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11752518 #hoopladigital

    Legend of the Galactic Heroes (3 books)
    Attack On Titan Before the Fall (2 extremely small audio books; about 3-4 hours each)

    I asked recently if the company behind the Monogatari localizations would do one for Bakemonogatari, but they said they're waiting until the 3rd book of those to make the decision.

    I would love more English audiobooks. I think Goblin Slayer would make for a good audio book. Actually got rid of Audible sub for J-Novel Club Premium.

    Audible has a share audio book feature that lets you get one audiobook from one single user once. If anybody is interested in Kizu or Galactic Heroes, let me know. =)

  • Premium Member

    Absolutely would be interested. Though my audiobook listening is down in the past few months due to the JapanesePod101 language learning podcasts, I still love audiobooks and have listened to lots of Japanese fiction.

  • Translators

    J-Novel Club would be happy to produce audio books for our titles and to negotiate the rights to do so... But I think it would have to be as a shared risk with the narrator, perhaps splitting the profits.

    I actually have experience producing English audio dramas... I created a 30 minute English language Yes! Pretty Cure 5! doujin drama CD 8 years ago...
    If anyone has a copy you could probably blackmail me with it :).

  • Member

    @Sam-Pinansky That took all of 5 minutes of googling to find. :P Should have covered your tracks better.
    Here's a preview for the curious: https://files.catbox.moe/adkclx.mp3

  • Thank you for the feedback guys, I really appreciate it. I replied to your email, Sam - thanks again for your help!

  • Translators

    @Paulo27 I wrote the script for that if you can believe it...
    Well, I had just finished the fansubbing for the anime, so I was pretty intimately familiar with it. Thankfully I don't actually appear in it (except for a single cameo line).

    I sold it at a Pretty Cure-only doujinshi event in Yokohama. So I have experience sitting at a circle table selling my stuff at a doujin convention: It was very informative about that part of otaku culture! I regret NOTHING.

  • Regarding audio books, price is a pretty big concern for me. While I'm interested in "Legend of the Galactic Heroes", not to the point where I'll really spend $20 on one volume.

  • Premium Member

    Hmm I might buy galactic heros from audible is it any good?

  • @Ztshp I haven't heard the whole thing, but the free audio sample sounds fine.

  • Premium Member

    @Ztshp Do you have an audible account? You get one book for signing up for the 1 month free trial (to keep forever even if you cancel).

    I can also gift you another one of the Galactic Heroes LNs or Kizumonogatari LN for free if you've never received an audio book from someone else with the share feature.

    @Karsin Like I said, you get one book for signing up for Audible one month trial free, and I could gift you book two. You could cancel your account at that point no strings attached and keep the books.

    (I'd probably grab volume 3 for 15 bucks before doing so so you have all 3 to read; Audible members get a slight discount; a few months back, they did a 50% off sale too, so you can catch that next holiday if you'd rather wait and get Kizumonogatari and Galactic Heroes books for 10 bucks or so I believe).

  • Premium Member

    @Terrence I have an account, I already have wound tale but I haven't been shared with yet, I also have like 3 credits I haven't used yet, I've been personally waiting for the bakamongatari audiobook to come out since I was so impressed with wound tale

  • Premium Member

    @Ztshp I just started Wound Tale. Of course I'm listening to it on Echo when someone walks into the room and the main character is talking about needing a certain magazine after seeing the state the class pres was in the day before. xC

  • Premium Member

    @Terrence yeah I totally started listening to it with my dad in the car when suddenly it reminds you that it is definitly from Japan, that was embarrassing

  • Premium Member

    @Ztshp Audible is great. If you have a 0 credit balance after I think 3 months, they offer you 3 credits to what comes out to about $11 per credit. Some audiobooks are significantly cheaper if you buy the Kindle book first.

Log in to reply