Spice and Wolf US Cover

This is long overdue, but as the book was recently actually released, I decided to write and post it anyways.

In September, Yen Press announced that they would be publishing the Spice and Wolf light novel. The light novel market in the US is barely in existence, and most of that comes from Yen Plus and their sister company, Little Brown. They have begun publishing the Haruhi novels to a very limited success that stemmed from the previous fanbase for the Haruhi anime.

In an attempt to appeal to a larger fanbase, Yen Plus took it upon themselves to release the light novels with a custom cover, seen below. There has been an virtual riot at the release of this cover which has filled the comment sections of Yen Plus’s blog posts concerning the light novel. In the end, the company took steps to try to calm their readers, but to little avail. Most ‘fans’ of the series are still moaning about how horrible the cover is, and how the offered dust jackets simply aren’t enough.

In this post, I’ll be restating many of the things I’ve said within the comments of Yen Plus. Try to bare with me if you’ve followed those comment pages.

To start with, I personally rather like the cover. When I saw it, I immediately thought of the art book I own, imported from Japan. Unfortunately, I gave away the art book to a friend who is a bigger fan of the series than I. Let me describe the cover to you, though: Holo is nude, lying down, smiling mischievously, and artfully covered up. Hmm. Sounds familiar. I don’t feel that Yen Plus’s cover is far from the images presented within the light novel itself, nor really throughout the series. No, Holo is not always nude. But she is in the beginning, and this is the beginning.

Past that, I really admire that Yen Plus took the steps they did to satisfy their fanbase. Few companies care nearly enough to include a dust jacket with the original art as a bonus in their magazine (I do not feel that this was only to garner magazine sales, but rather the only reasonable way to get the dust jacket to their customers). Hardly any would even think of contacting online retailers and ask them to provide the dust jackets with future sales. But no, this is simply not enough for ‘fans’ of Spice and Wolf. The ‘fans’ apparently expected Yen Plus to throw away every copy so far printed of the books and make completely new ones, and have the available by the already promised date.

Frankly, if companies relied on these sorts of people, pretty much everyone would be run into the ground. If EA Games scrapped and remade every game that people complained about they’d probably still be in business. But for the most part, no one can afford to make the finicky people happy. It just can’t be done.

You may notice that I’ve been setting off ‘fans’ with those apostrophes. I have my reasons, I promise.

There is nothing wrong with viewing content which is not licensed in your country for free. However, no matter how legal it used to be to read the Spice and Wolf light novels online, or read the manga, or watch the anime, it still does not contribute money to the author. Hasekura Isuna is a very talented and very hardworking creator. Does Hasekura-san not deserve money for her work? Of course she does. I personally have imported a few of the light novels from Japan, even though I can only read so much of them in Japanese, because I enjoy the series and believe it’s worth the money. Clearly, not everyone can do this. Importing can be difficult and is almost always expensive. I understand that. But many ‘fans’ have said they are boycotting the series until Yen Plus fixes their mistake. In doing this, you are not just hurting Yen Plus. You are hurting Yen Plus, Hasekura-san, and the light novel industry itself. You are preventing the further publishing of light novels.

Please, don’t boycott the series. Buy it anyways, and tell Yen Plus how you feel. Boycotting the series doesn’t say, “I don’t like this cover.” It says, “I don’t like this series.” Yen Plus is young enough that they can listen to our complaints. By the time the announcement was made, it was far too late for them to do anything more than they have done. However, I have no doubts that if they publish the next installment in the light novel series, it will be with a veritable option for the original cover. However, as a fan of their replacement artwork, I look forward to the new artwork they might come out with.

Oh, and by the way, guys, her name is indeed Holo. If you don’t understand how the Japanese phonetic system, you can’t speak on what her name is. Anyone who listens to Japanese regularly with the ability to understand it can watch the anime and hear clearly that her name is Holo. She even writes it in Roman letters as Holo. So no, Yen Plus didn’t ‘change’ it just because your fanlators said her name was Horo

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2 Comments »

  1. pinecone2654 said

    Well I got on the Spice and Wolf bandwagon a little too late to get a copy of the original-art dust jacket, but I certainly hope Yen Press will release the next novel with original art… Also thanks for explaining the bit about her name, although I still hear “Horo” in my head when I read it :/

    • Leah said

      I cringe every time someone says ‘Horo,’ heh. It’s all a terrible misunderstanding because people are just convinced that there is no ‘l’ in Japanese, ever.

      And anyways, I don’t hope the next novel has the original art. My local bookstores all had the novel in the teen section after much debate. I don’t want to seen them moved back to the manga section.

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