Simultaneous yen press digital release for The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya
"The Intuition of Haruhi Suzumiya will be available on digital platforms on November 25, simultaneous to the Japanese release!"
It looks like yen press is stepping up for this series, this is the sort of competition we need to get going, still I feel it'd be impossible to do this most of the time. Even though I only buy physical books I'm still happy for this.
This is exactly the sort of thing that should be expected from a subsidiary company of a major Japanese publisher. Good on them for stepping up.
Now if only they start licensing the Kadokawa titles I'm interested in like Rinne Ishida's works.......
It helps that a large portion of the book are short stories previously published years ago, so the volume is complete in Japanese publisher's hands and likely ready to translate for Yen Press. For most other series though, there is no easy way to negotiate in licensing a new volume before it hits Japanese stores. And even the one time J-Novel tried doing that (not counting the upcoming Bloodline) which was with Arifureta Zero, they were only able to get materials a week or two ahead of time, so only the preview was translated and ready to stream on J-Novel Club simultaneously with Japan. The full ebook was then published months later. Sam said it wasn't worth the hassle.
For something like Haruhi though, where we haven't had new material in nearly a decade, I can see the demand there for simultaneous release. I wish Yen would consider doing more light novels with early digital release, too. I know they have like 12 volumes of the manga Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun on ebook stores but only 4 volumes printed so far, so they aren't blind to the idea.
In some cases with manga, Yen Press has released stuff only digitally (e.g. Corpse Princess), and in the case of at least one (Sekirei) they later did a physical release as well. So, it's not like they haven't done digital-only or digital-first stuff before. They just haven't been doing it with LNs AFAIK, and I think that in every case that they've released a manga digitally first, it's because they hadn't yet decided to release it in print, whereas with the typical LN situation, they're doing both digital and physical releases from the beginning, so they do them together.
Now, as to whether Yen Press will start releasing books digitally first when they have a physical release planned already... we'll just have to wait and see. They're doing it here with Haruhi, but it wouldn't surprise me if this is a special case given what it is and how it will likely be impossible for them to have a print release ready in time with how COVID has affected things. They're also in the interesting situation that all of the previous volumes of Haruhi are out of print, so anyone who doesn't have them already is going to have to be willing to read them digitally if they're getting the book this year, since while they've said that they're going to reprint the other volumes, that will likely take far too much time to be ready for the release of the new volume. So, on some level, they're already dealing with an audience who's willing to read books digitally, which isn't necessarily the case with their other series. So, it's certainly possible that what happens with this release will lead to changes at Yen Press, but it's also possible that this is just a one off situation.
Personally, rather than necessarily going digital-first, I think that the biggest win with Yen Press would be if they moved to the three month release cycle being the norm instead of their typical four month release cycle, and based on some of what they've announced lately, it looks like they might be doing that, but with how COVID has been screwing with things, it's hard to tell. It does look like some of their newer series are starting on a three month release cycle though, whereas previously, they only switched to that with some of their better performing series after several volumes. It would be a significant improvement if the average Yen Press series had 4 volumes come out a year instead of 3, and I doubt that we'll really ever see better than that, since they seem to really value having a consistent release schedule if they can have it.
Now if only Yen Press could get laxer region restrictions for the main series than just 3 measly countries.