Why do translations take so long?


  • Premium Member

    EDIT:
    Reworded the title.

    EDIT2:
    I want to say that after the points made there, I respect J Novel Club a lot, and I'll probably keep my subscription and I might even buy all the current novels to support them (next payday) if they keep up their current pace of translation. The issues with translation authorization times by the Japanese publishers isn't their fault or any other translation company's fault. I thought J Novel was one of the Japanese publishers intentionally drip-feeding the translation like how Nintendo treats Virtual Console releases.

    [END EDIT]

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    So I signed up for the $5 membership to read the prepublish of Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2 Volume 2, and I will be immediately cancelling it. I will not buy the "finalized" version of this volume precisely because there is no point in buying something I've already read. There's also no point in maintaining this subscription when I only got it for this ONE series because you wouldn't even let me buy the "finalized" volume until January 20th, 2020.

    I see that there's an Author's note in this volume dating in 2015, but yet the official release is January 20th, 2020. Why did it take 4 YEARS to translate and sell this volume? After looking it up, I see that there are MANY unreleased volumes arbitrarily not being translated. Even if I import it, I cannot read it. I can't afford huge amounts of money to directly pay a professional translator to translate it, even if they would take a job translating a copyrighted work, even if I only kept it for personal use to avoid legal troubles.

    Automatic translators are garbage for books, so that is absolutely not an option.

    I want to give you my money. I want to buy the translated volumes that are currently WAY ahead of the actual original release. WHY do you refuse to let me buy it?

    I would begrudgingly accept a few months delay for a volume to be translated, but 4 YEARS delay is beyond absurd.

    I can understand if maybe you thought it wasn't worth the risk of investment, but now the anime adaptation created interest. So why not then simultaneously pay translators to translate all of the current volumes to get the English volumes caught up faster?


  • Staff

    @goldensun3ds
    Hello,
    there seems to be some misunderstanding here, J-Novel just licensed and started translating Bookworm in March of this year, here is a news article about the acquisition.

    J-Novel is currently without a doubt the fastest translation company in the industry, you don't have to take my word for it the numbers speak for themselves.

    Also they translate novels 1 volume at a time with a small break in between for various reasons one of which is so the translation team does not get burned out.

    It is not that you can't buy the final e-book till January 20, you can pre-order if you want, otherwise that is the release date for the e-book, the membership allows you to read the newest volume that is being translated before it becomes an e-book. Many users want this because they want new content as soon as humanly possible.

    Additionally the subscription does not only give you access to 1 series, you have access to all of series' latest volumes currently being translated, as well as access to any series on catch up

    By all means if you want a refund you can email support@j-novel.club


  • Premium Member

    @rahul-balaggan Sorry if I implied J Novel specifically as being slow, but I'm talking about in general. Why did it take so long for the author/publisher to get someone translating this?

    I know that translating is a hard job and takes time, but it's not a 4 YEARS job. They should have gotten someone doing the translation long before now.


  • Premium Member

    At times I am not sure whether people are being serious or just "trolling".
    If you are new to the world of light novels then you are sadly in for a surprise. J Novel club is relatively new to the "world" being approximately 3 years old. That by itself should be a factor for why there has been a delay. But onto more practical.
    Not ever Japanese light novel gets translated, no matter how loud the fan base may be. It is based on the business model of whether it will be profitable. J Novel has had to take time to build both a reputation with publishers to license the series which then builds up enough of a portfolio to possibly license further in the future. This is not a fast process especially when you have to ensure that the product is of good enough quality for distribution. J novel is the fastest of the publishers and if you go browse online, you will see some companies reasonably can be expected to take 4 months to a yer between volumes. Sometimes series are not translated till years into the future.
    A good example is the recent acquisition of DXD which the first volume is close to a decade since the original was published.

    Have reasonable expectations. I quite like rereading books and I joined this site for Rokujouma but have so many other series I like to read.


  • Staff

    @goldensun3ds

    Licensing is a very complex game, it takes a lot to be able to license a series ( and i am not just talking about money)

    a publisher must trust that you will do their product well, that your company won't drop the ball, more and more.
    J-Novel club is not even 4 years old, they formed a little over 3 years ago, they started out with 4 licenses and look where we are now, 76 titles.

    And the biggest thing is if no one wants to license it then nothing can be done, J-Novel Club came in and secured the title, who is to say what would have happened if no one else wanted it, for all we know currently 0 volumes could be available


  • Premium Member

    @rahul-balaggan I don't want a refund. It was worth the money to me to be able to read it because I was wanting to purchase the volume, but couldn't yet. It doesn't matter to me if I keep ownership of it because I've already read it.

    And I know that it has other series, but I was only interested in this 1 series. Besides, it's missing huge gaps, so for most of the others, it's completely useless because I can only use it to read the latest volume and glorified samples of every prior volume due to prepubs getting deleted after a set amount of time. Reading a book by starting with the end is a terrible way to read a book. That would make me not want to read the rest at all if I actually did that.

    It's not at all a Netflix of Light Novels.

    It was honestly a really good translation with very minimal grammatical errors that could have passed as the "finalized" version.

    Why don't you translate all the currently available volumes at once (one group on 1 volume, another on the next, etc)? Getting them released sooner gets you sales sooner, and customers less likely to lose interest while waiting.

    Is there at least an estimation of how soon I can expect new volume translations? A history of release dates would help a lot.



  • I would also add that paying for a membership for only one series is not really advisable. If you truly are only interested in Bookworm then just purchasing the volumes as they are released (roughly every 3 months) is a much cheaper and probably more satisfying choice.

    Membership only really makes sense if you are interested in following several titles. So trying out some other series here while you still have the membership makes sense. Right now, on the monthly catch up you can still read Infinite Dendrogram, which is also an excellent series and has a new anime starting this week: https://j-novel.club/s/infinite-dendrogram


  • Premium Member

    @jason-maranto Actually, paying $5 once was cheaper than the price of the volume.



  • Sure, but if you wanted to continue reading as the parts are released you will end up paying more. The only way that works out is if you get membership every 3 months or so... and at that point my point about trying other series is still valid.


  • Staff

    @goldensun3ds

    First off, at J-Novel the history has always been that after a volume finishes there is a 1-2 week break before the next one drops.

    Bookworm is special, there is no break in between volumes, however they released 2 parts at once last week sort of like a little present, so it should have ended this week but it did not, it ended last week, so it should start up hopefully next week or the week after.

    Bookworm was originally done in small parts release at a dangerously fast speed, I say dangerous cause it really was, translators and editors are human, and they will get burned out sustaining those speeds, not to mention there were many delays, as is to be expected when you try to do a LN that large in such a tight time frame. they extended it to 10 parts for consistency sake and it has been a much much much smoother experience.

    Also I am just the Forum Moderator so translation speed decisions are beyond my pay grade.

    Edit: as for multiple translators working on 1 series, honestly it's just a recipe for disaster, they would have to throw consistency out the window, editing time would have to be like triple what it already is, and for a very heavy series like Bookworm editing is already a very long process based on what the translator has made us aware to when it comes to the translation


  • Staff

    @goldensun3ds said in Why do translations take so long?:

    And I know that it has other series, but I was only interested in this 1 series. Besides, it's missing huge gaps, so for most of the others, it's completely useless because I can only use it to read the latest volume and glorified samples of every prior volume due to prepubs getting deleted after a set amount of time. Reading a book by starting with the end is a terrible way to read a book. That would make me not want to read the rest at all if I actually did that.
    It's not at all a Netflix of Light Novels.

    It is certainly not the Netflix model.

    J-novel Club has thought of this as well every single month there are new series put on as catch up titles, where they put all the volumes and all the parts back on the website. This a benefit not just for new subscribers, but for older ones who may have not had the time to read a series. We are currently still in the December Catch Up Period, but soon a new set of titles will be put up for January, allowing users to start from the beginning, and with their membership they can still [link text](try before they buy)


  • Premium Member

    I also started my membership because of bookworm, so I want to say I love J-Novel and what their business model. It really does keep me engaged with the Light Novels that I find interesting. With other publishers, a lot of time I never know when the next book will come out ... if ever. Seven Seas only tells me 3 months out, if a series I like is not listed I get worried. Sol Press ... who knows ... some day. Kodansha ... one month. etc. Yen On is better, but they sort of shotgun you the info, so it is hard to find what you are looking for.

    But all the other publisher are the same in one aspect, You have to wait! You have to wait till THEY are done before you can read more ..... so much waiting.

    Recommendations:

    • Join the forums, lots of great discussion on there
    • Try out other books. Lots of good one here
    • Buy the finished works. (optional) With a series that you really love, having a complete copy that you can read at your pleasure is bliss.

  • Member

    @goldensun3ds said in Why do translations take so long?:

    I can understand if maybe you thought it wasn't worth the risk of investment, but now the anime adaptation created interest. So why not then simultaneously pay translators to translate all of the current volumes to get the English volumes caught up faster?

    That model of translation definitely exist and practiced in the industry, but I doubt it is practiced very much in literature industry. Literature is very sequential documents, unlike a technical manual. Everything is written with assumption that reader read from the beginning to the end. With that constraints, it is very difficult to translate a volume without being translating the volume leading up to that.

    Having multiple people being consistent in translation for technical manual can be done in many group translation platform to share terminologies and translation memories.

    But it would be very difficult to achieve that with literature translation . There are many words especially in the fantasy world used in a unique way by the original author and attach unique meaning to it. It will end up that everybody have to have equal amount of knowledge of reading the whole series and then having intimate knowledge of how it has been translated in the previous volumes. They may do it ignoring that whole thing, but what you will get is mess of inconsistencies.

    Even if J-novel is willing to do it, I would be surprised if any translator will sign up for such an unsatisfactory work. Literature translator are simply not used to work in that kind of fashion.

    I really feel your pain that you cannot stop reading this particular story once you start. I was like that when I discovered the original WN, and I was fortunate that it was already complete when I discovered it, and read it to completion within a couple weeks (I can read Japanese).

    If you want to experience something like that, just forget that it ever existed. Just go on with your life and come back on November 2025.


  • Premium Member

    Why did it take 4 YEARS to translate and sell this volume?

    Why did it take TO Books 4 years to authorize the translation? Shouldn't they have been prescient enough to authorize it in 2015, when it was originally published, so that you could have had it within months, rather than years?

    It did not take 4 years to translate any of the AoaB volumes. It only took a few months, once it was legal to do the translation.

    Many of the series that JNC works on are happening faster than the publishing schedule of the original. There are several series where JNC has "caught up" with the Japanese series, and a new translation cannot start until the book is actually released.

    As for multiple translators working at the same time... If you aren't happy with what machine translations (MTL) are like, you should tremble at the thought of different people doing different parts of a book for speed. You see it in fan translations - different chapters by different translators have a whole different "feel" to them, due to decisions made by a particular translator. Even a change of editor can affect how well the translation reads.

    As for buying the final books, that's a personal choice. I'm up over 200 JNC volumes purchased, and plan on buying all the A0aB volumes as they come out, both in ebook and paper formats. I rarely read books I like just once; in school, I was assigned a different SciFi book when the class read 2001 because I'd read it more times than the teacher had. Books are rarely a "one and done" for me; such a book would probably be a "didn't finish, not interested".


  • Member

    @someoldguy said in Why do translations take so long?:

    Why did it take TO Books 4 years to authorize the translation? Shouldn't they have been prescient enough to authorize it in 2015, when it was originally published, so that you could have had it within months, rather than years?

    Fair question is why J-Novel didn't ask for license earlier? Taiwanese and Korean translation were licensed much earlier and they are caught up or pretty close, so I'm sure they would have no issue on licensing if asked. US market is much smaller than those asian markets, so maybe the potential was not immediately clear to them. Also since J-Novel only announce license deal after first parts are already translated, meaning that they need to have a translator signed up for it. I wonder if the size of Bookworm scared off many translators, and we had to wait for the ascendance of Mr Quof to take up the challenge.


  • Member

    I’m desperate for more Bookworm just like every other person, but I’m not about to demand J-Novel hire multiple translators/editors to do volumes further up. That is a terrible idea, and that doesn’t happen with literally any other business model. @Quof is doing an amazing job. As others have said, have you even heard of Highschool Dxd? Nearly 30 volumes released in Japan, nearly a decade old, 4 seasons of anime, but until recently only the manga was licensed in English. Yen Press just a couple months ago announced they licensed the DxD LNs, but we still have no date yet for volume 1. Does that mean it took them a decade to translate that volume? Absolutely not, I have no idea where you got that idea. The Demon Slayer manga absolutely exploded in popularity after the anime, but Viz Media only has 10 volumes translated, and their Shonen Jump service is missing 50 chapters, which are being translated monthly, as fast as they can. This is a business, not an illegal unauthorized fan translation group. Also, if you haven’t checked out the paperbacks for Bookworm, I totally recommend them, as they are very beautiful.

    @hiroto Another factor that influences why JNC got it relatively late is because Sam had to prove to TO Books that they are trustworthy, and he licensed a couple series from TO before Bookworm in order to “butter them up” to make J-Novel an attractive prospect. Business requires trust and connections, after all.


  • Premium Member

    @goldensun3ds The reason it takes so long is because the whole model works on foreign enterprise coming to them asking "we'd like to license this in English" not them going out and trying to sell the product to foreign markets.

    Anime works on exactly the same principal, they're producing it for the Japanese market first and foremost, if a foreign company is interested in exporting it, they come to the Japanese company and ask. It blurs a little nowadays because Japanese companies have started to expand to export markets, and sometimes multi-national companies help fund the production of some series specifically so they can take it to their markets right from the get go now. It's why you see Funimation tweeting about how they've picked up a series practically the week before it starts airing despite the fact that we knew the series was being produced anywhere up to a year prior.


  • Premium Member

    it seems there are multiple forum threads where moderators and community members patiently explain that JNC isn’t Netflix and how JNC works

    I think that JNC might need to update the webpage and more accurately define how the ‘club’ actually works. I believe that some of the misconceptions arise from the many unauthorized translation/ scanilation sites on the web that do post content shortly after Japanese release dates...the difference? Those sites are friggin’ pirates

    Why did it take 4 years? Nobody knew 4 years ago that there would be demand! Why didn’t TO just hire someone to produce the anime 4 years ago? Or publish in multiple languages from day one?

    Come on, seriously? George Lucas envisioned 9 Star Wars movies, why did I take 40 years to get it done?


  • Premium Member

    @hiroto said in Why do translations take so long?:

    Fair question is why J-Novel didn't ask for license earlier?

    Given that there are multiple companies doing translations for the English markets, either none of them saw the value in it (JNC wasn't around when AoaB started, I don't think), or TO didn't want to license it for English distribution very badly.


  • Premium Member

    @jon-mitchell said in Why do translations take so long?:

    George Lucas envisioned 9 Star Wars movies, why did I take 40 years to get it done?

    So it's YOUR fault! :)


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