Coloured Illustrations


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    I was wondering since the very first light novel I got my hands on. Though, I am not sure if it applies to hard-copies as well, considering I am only owning ebooks in that regards.

    How come the coloured illustrations are always at the beginning of the book? And by that I mean: why not at the end?

    Everyone would probably be able to tell, it is a production issue to have the colour-printed pages near to the cover. But then, every reader probably have noticed, that some scenes which are shown with those illustrations turn out to be spoilers for the book.

    What do you think about it? Would it be worth the suggestion to have (coloured) illustrations only at the end of a book? Is it technically possible for a publisher? Maybe you have experienced such a moment already, where you start a book and then run straight into a spoiler for the upcoming story. Anything in mind which annoyed you enough to wish the illustration would be elsewhere but at the beginning?


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    @serah
    In my opinion the main reason color pages are at the beginning is to attract readers since it's the first thing you see when opening the book, so if it's some cool art showing the characters doing cool thing or being sexy, there's a better chance that potential reader will buy the book.
    In some way they're like a second cover where the publisher can show something a bit too spoilery, messy or (most of the time) risqué for the cover.
    And overall from what I've seen so far the color pages rarely spoil the story, at least not beyond what you would get by reading the chapters name in the summary.


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    Have to recall how physical books are published. Groups of pages are printed as one sheet, folded into what is called a "stitch", bound together with other stitches, then trimmed to remove the folds and square it all up. Everything in a stitch has the same characteristics, such as paper and use of color printing.

    Depending on the press size and the final publication size, a stitch can be 4 (one sheet printed double-sided, 2pages per side), 8, 16, or 32 pages, so if you're going to do color for some pages, they'll be grouped together. Well, there can be 2-page stitches, but they're relatively rare.

    Stitch size and how the text flows determines how much space the author gets to do an afterword (filler).

    As for why they're put at the beginning, @Raitoiro explanation is a good reason.



  • For what it's worth, I've never seen color plates that spoiled anything really serious, so I don't mind them that much... I try to think of them as a movie trailer or something like that: we'll give you the what, but you still need to read the book to get the where, when, why, and how.


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    @serah said in Coloured Illustrations:

    How come the coloured illustrations are always at the beginning of the book?

    I read somewhere, I believe in a translated author's note, that illustrations are an important part of the light novel to the Japanese market. Without illustrations that speak to the buyer, a light novel reader will not purchase the LN. Similar to the way the cover of a fiction book can affect how well it sells in the American market. I know a good cover can get me to at least consider what SF/Fantasy (my genre) book I buy.

    As to spoilers, I don't think it's any worse than commercials for the next movie coming out. Those trailers provide just enough spoiler to tease but not enough to ruin.


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    I hate spoilers so I swipe past the illustrations then come back to them after I've read the book.


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    I've given up somewhat on swiping passed them, but yeah, they're meant to sell the book.

    That's why it's kinda weird to me when they're locked behind a paywall on some companies' digital previews; if you were in the store, as long as the book isn't wrapped in cellophane, you would be able to check them out to decide on a purchase. When I don't see any in the preview, I actually worry that the book doesn't have any color illustrations in the full thing.


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    I find it much easier to swipe past a table of contents than coloured illustrations. Especially with ebooks, when you hardly ever get back to beginning.

    I have trouble to think of those illustrations as a feature to help with the sales. I can understand it, that an appealing cover makes up a lot for a light novel, which is already strange when thinking of all the normal novels I bought without even thinking if there are illustrations or not. But coloured illustrations... So far I am considering the illustrations in light novel more as a helper for the author, so they do not have to describe stuff in detail.

    But often enough some illustrations beforehand told me too much what to expect from the current volume than just being a bonus feature...


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    @serah It's definitely a feature to help sell, I don't really know for other publisher but Overlap use them quite heavily in their marketing (it's for February this year so there's should be no spoil).
    And the LN market is still mostly hard-copies so potential buyers will look up at least the first few pages when choosing a book in the store and in a sea of similar books those few pictures can make the difference.
    Also I doubt the pictures help the author, from the author's afterword I've read it seems like the pictures are choosed and made after the texte and a lot of LN were WN before so without picture at all.


  • Member

    @serah said in Coloured Illustrations:

    I find it much easier to swipe past a table of contents than coloured illustrations. Especially with ebooks, when you hardly ever get back to beginning.

    I have trouble to think of those illustrations as a feature to help with the sales. I can understand it, that an appealing cover makes up a lot for a light novel, which is already strange when thinking of all the normal novels I bought without even thinking if there are illustrations or not. But coloured illustrations... So far I am considering the illustrations in light novel more as a helper for the author, so they do not have to describe stuff in detail.

    But often enough some illustrations beforehand told me too much what to expect from the current volume than just being a bonus feature...

    I understand your sentiment. I also feel the cover of LN are rather spoiling too, with very clear pictures often drawn by the artist of the manga adaptation of the work.

    When I read Ascendance of a Bookworm originally on WN, I didn't know anything about it, didn't know that LN series were going on. I also came across this work purely by browsing ranking list on syosetu.com, didn't even google for it so I didn't have any visual image of the story, and it stayed that way to the end since there are no cover nor illustration on WN. Just chapter after chapter of text. That was a very pure textual experience with zero spoiling ahead and I was very lucky to be able to have that experience.


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    @serah said in Coloured Illustrations:

    I have trouble to think of those illustrations as a feature to help with the sales.

    I can understand that. It wouldn't influence me either. I come from a world of reading novels that have no illustrations except maybe a map. But there is a lot about the native manga/anime/light novel culture that doesn't seem to make sense. Japanese comics are followed by people of all ages. It is harder to find a westerner reading western comics past puberty.

    So, I accept that color illustrations are necessary to sell the books in the native market and count it part of diving into that culture -- experiencing it (kinda) the way a native would.

    D


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    Given that illustrations are one of the draws of a light novel, I can understand colored illustrations at the beginning as a way of better showcasing what kind of illustrations one can expect in the book (since the cover is too limited of a sample).

    As for "spoilers", I generally see the color illustrations as a mini "trailer" for the book contents. Generally, it doesn't reveal anything important and does a good job of making me curious as to the context behind the illustrations and what events lead to or out of them. Of course, some color illustrations are better or worse than others at this, and there are those that spoil perhaps a bit too much, but that's just the natural variance in these things.

    But hey, I know some people refuse to watch trailers for movies they're interested in, so I can understand not wanting to see the color illustrations at the start.


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    @stardf29 said in Coloured Illustrations:

    But hey, I know some people refuse to watch trailers for movies they're interested in, so I can understand not wanting to see the color illustrations at the start.

    Raises hand ... to cover eyes while the trailer is playing :)

    I will sometimes watch a trailer for something I don't expect to want to see, in case it might change my mind. Even then I'm more likely to wait for it to hit streaming and then watch it 100% spoiler-free,


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    If we talk about the coloured illustrations as trailers, I guess it could be the same on the bad and good terms. There are trailers which are better looking than the actual movie is, telling the whole important story stuff in round about 2 minutes with all the major spoilers; and then there are trailers which only teases you and make you want for more.

    Yet then again, it feels strange of thinking it like that for books.

    Speaking of which - how come that the prepubs here are all fine to you without those "teasers"? By that logic the books should sell better if JNC would add them to the prepubs, or not?

    By that logic, it seems to me, JNC has to add illustrations to the free chapters anyone can read, so it would attract more new members and buyers...


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    @serah said in Coloured Illustrations:

    Yet then again, it feels strange of thinking it like that for books.

    Speaking of which - how come that the prepubs here are all fine to you without those "teasers"? By that logic the books should sell better if JNC would add them to the prepubs, or not?

    I think that goes back to the market. I doubt the illustrations do much for sales for you, I, or most of the rest in the western market. That is probably especially true in the digital market. WE get the illustrations at the front of the book because the original publisher put them there for the Japanese market and we follow suite to remain true to the original (and probably for contract reasons). Since the prepubs are here for the western market, having the teaser illustrations are not as important. Also....

    By that logic, it seems to me, JNC has to add illustrations to the free chapters anyone can read, so it would attract more new members and buyers...

    There was another post somewhere else that explained the beautiful color images were left off for the same reason they're not included in the Kindle, Nook, Kobe, etc versions. To provide enticement to buy the premium epub. If "we" got the images in the prepubs, we'd have even less incentive to get the epubs.


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    The statement somewhat contradicts the theory of the illustrations supposed to be teasers and sale helpers. Though, the reasoning would be okay, if it was not for the other providers to use them in preview pages.


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    @serah said in Coloured Illustrations:

    The statement somewhat contradicts the theory of the illustrations supposed to be teasers and sale helpers. Though, the reasoning would be okay, if it was not for the other providers to use them in preview pages.

    Not really. It's a matter of WHO the illustrations are sales helpers for. They are directed towards and necessary for the Japanese buyer. When the Japanese publisher puts the book together, they do not consider if the illustration is going to help sales in Germany or the US or any other country but Japan. JNC just puts the images in the exact same place that the original publisher did.


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    Keep in mind that the original Japanese market for light novels is one very centered around physical books in bookstores, before the time of digital shopping and e-books. In a bookstore, it's easy to preview a lot of books with their illustrations. However, it's not as easy to do so on digital storefronts, and especially not with JNC pre-pubs, hence why they might be left out in those contexts. Still, at this point they've become ingrained into the Japanese light novel culture and it'd look too weird to move them, plus physical stores with light novels are still a significant thing in Japan.


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    @stardf29 especially since physical copies are the only way to get the bonus stories there. For a favorite series you might have to buy 3-4 physical copies at 3-4 different stores if you want to read them all.

    Compared to that, me re-buying Realist Hero JNC premium versions of 1-5 for $5 each during the Black Friday sale was a bargain :)


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    I like the illustrations-they make want to find where they are and what is around them so yes they are like a commercial that way. And I anticipate them.


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