So, I've always thought about this, but never really wrote my thoughts down on it. Light novels are a really niche market outside of Japan. I mean, to the point where their translations are usually cut after a few volumes. It's quite sad too, but I think it mostly has to do with the fact that...they're not found in bookstores. I mean, you'll see them maybe the first month they're released or so, but after that bookstores never restock on them, and your only way of getting them is from online retailers.
Now, being someone that buys my books online most of the time anyway, I don't mind that, but I don't see how that's good for their sales at all. Do the bookstores refuse to restock because they don't sell well, or do publishers refuse to release new batches for bookstores?
Lots of light novels never get any attention paid to them. There are some really interesting titles out there that just get dropped because not enough people know about them. I'm sure if word was spread around more about them, more people would be inclined to buy them (they're usually cheaper than a volume of a manga anyway).
But of course, there are light novels that actually do well, but most of those are popular because they already have a popular name within anyone who's into anime or manga. Suzumiya Haruhi's translation seems to be selling well, but that's not surprising really, considering how popular it is. That Death Note spinoff titled L: Change The World (which is actually a novel adaptation of a spinoff movie, wrap that around your head) even managed to make a top seller for some time, according to the New York Times. Of course, Death Note is popular as well. Meanwhile, other nice reads are never picked up because their names are obscure, they were never adapted, or their adaptations weren't anything that really sparked widespread attention.
So what of these titles? They usually just get dropped, and most of the time with no official statement of their discontinuation. Really sucks, there are quite a few series that I got into and was never able to continue because of their discontinuation. I have the Japanese versions of some of them though, just sitting on my bookshelf until I can read them fluently enough to actually enjoy them, rather than referencing an online dictionary every other page.
And I'm still butthurt than Tokyopop discontinued Welcome To The NHK before I got to buy a copy. It wasn't even on sale for that long. I've already read it, but I want to keep it for my collection. Too bad it's impossible to find now, unless I wanna drop $150+ on a copy. Aren't we in 2010? We have on demand printing now. I'd pay an extra $10 or so if they just freaking print 1 copy from an online order placed on their site or something. But that's just me getting a bit into a personal rant.
On the other hand, after a really long hiatus, Tokyopop began publishing the new volumes of the Karin novels. Where the hell did that come from? Whatever, I'll probably buy those, but I don't really have the urge to start reading 6. They're fast reads though, so I'll get to it eventually.
What bout you guys? You guys read any light novels, or had any series you were reading before but then got shut down? It'd be nice to be fluent enough in Japanese to actually read them without translations, but we all know how lazy we are.
~ Kirari ミ★