Del Rey and the Growing Light Novel Market in America

I’m sure all interested parties have heard that Del Rey, a division of Random House, has licensed a couple of light novels, including the award-winning mystery/fantasy series Zaregoto. I can’t help but think that, as both an anime fan and a novel fan, the growing trend towards licensing light novels is incredibly awesome.

I remember back about three/four years ago when the news first broke than Tokyopop was releasing the Love Hina novel (why on Earth anyone would want to read a novel version of Love Hina is beyond me, you’re missing out on all that Akamatsu Ken fanservice) and thinking “Huh, novels.” Then the Crest of the Stars novel series got licensed, and (since I already knew beforehand that the anime was based on the novels) I was condiserably more interested. And then, just recently, Tokyopop and Seven Seas have both stepped into the fray and licensed a whole chunk of interesting titles like Kino no Tabi and Boogiepop. I haven’t had a chance to even buy many of these, unfortunately, and I probably should, as I really would like to see more novels of this sort translated over into English.

Viz is also breaking into the novel publishing industry–I read their version of Brave Story earlier this year, and it was quite well-done. I picked up Socrates in Love (Sekai no Chushin de Ai o Sakebu) and their re-issue of Dragon Sword & Wind Child yesterday. I’ve always avoided Japanese author released in America as the ones that tend to make it over here are the literary snob types (Murakami Haruki, although I read Sputnik Sweetheart and it was nice, if not particularly spectacular), but Viz has been pulling in more popular fiction from Japan, which I can only see as a plus.

And, now, Del Rey has taken off the gloves and entered the fray, ready to come out swinging. Del Rey’s always been a publisher who had the money to be able to take risks–when you publish powerhouses like Star Wars novels, you can probably afford to pick up weird titles that other publishers turned down, and then act surprised when they turn out hits (*cough*His Majesty’s Dragon*cough*). So, really, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them starting to pitch Zaregoto not only to their manga readers, but also their fiction readers. If they’re successful, we may have a whole new door open up for us in light novels–one wherein both otaku and novel readers can create a new market all by themselves. I’d love to see a strong light novel market in the States, as who doesn’t want a combination of anime and books? Unless, of course, you hate one or the other. You’re weird.

9 Responses to “Del Rey and the Growing Light Novel Market in America”

  1. 1 sdshamshel 6 January 2008 at 3:14 pm

    This is pretty perfect timing what with the Genshiken Light Novel coming out in Japan this month.


  2. 2 rah2 6 January 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Let’s not forget that apperently, Del Rey is also interested in realese the MAGAZINE Zaregoto and it’s spinoff series, Zerozaki Clan, ran in, Faust, over here as well. This could turn out really well, if marketed properly. Maybe if we get lucky, they will pick up like, I dunno, Dragon or something.

  3. 3 OGT 6 January 2008 at 6:49 pm

    >> SDS

    Maybe Del Rey will pick it up if Zaregoto is successful!

    >> rah2

    As I said, if we get non-otaku book-reading folk to pick up on light novels, life could be a lot more fun on this side of the puddle.

  4. 4 rah2 6 January 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Things would be more fun if people like Tokyopop would actually commit to the light novel market rather then halfassing it, since the only ones doing a good job are Seaven Seas and…I guess Dark Horse and Viz. Of course, you got Veritical doing the Guin Saga books, but they are crazy to start with. I just wish someone would pick up on some of the other things winning awards at the moment like Kokaku no Regios.

  5. 5 nil! 6 January 2008 at 11:54 pm

    So does this mean we are getting Baccano! novels or are those not of the light variety. This world needs more Baccano!

  6. 6 OGT 7 January 2008 at 12:08 am

    >> nil!

    Baccano! novels are light novels, yes. They in particular haven’t been licensed yet, but another series the author has done, Vamp!, is licensed by Seven Seas and is coming out this fall. I’m assuming if it does well, we might get Baccano! novels.


  7. 7 rah2 7 January 2008 at 12:51 am

    Except that Vamp! has been in limbo for ages. It was supposed to come out like, last year in July, with Shinigami no Ballad and (god help us)Strawberry Panic. But they never came out and god knows when they will and now Seven Seas is focusing on Boogiepop agian, which is great…except now I want Vamp! so that Baccano! can get realesed in english here :(

  8. 8 OGT 7 January 2008 at 10:47 am

    Well, we’re only a few months away from Shinigami no Ballad and it’s still not been pushed back from March. Which is probably a good sign!

  9. 9 Rain 17 December 2009 at 9:35 pm

    please please Del rey!! BACCANO! is an amazing series! i really wanna read the novel

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