Japanese Light Novels?

SAO vs Log Horizon

I found this interesting article from Publishers Weekly, reporting that Yen Press has just launched Yen On, a light novel imprint. Yen On will release at least 24 titles in 2015, and they’re planning to publish more. I’ve actually been a fan of Yen Press’s works, specifically their manga/graphic novel adaptations of popular American YA novels such as James Patterson’s Maximum Ride and Daniel X, and Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

But those are manga books and graphic novels. What’s so cool/different about light novels? I quote from the article:

In the North American publishing world, comics are comics and novels are novels. But if you peek into the manga section of your local bookstore, you might find a “light novel,” which, according to Leyla Aker, v-p publishing at Viz Media, “possesses elements of YA and genre fiction, combined with the uniquely Japanese element of the manga/anime connection.”

[Light novels] are meant to be light entertainment: fast-paced serialized stories offered as inexpensive paperbacks. According to Japan’s Publishing Science Institute, light novels accounted for approximately 23.5% of the country’s general paperback sales in 2011. “Light novels are huge in Japan these days, and also in most countries in Asia,” observed Ju Youn Lee, senior editor at Yen Press. “In Korea, I think I would say that it’s even bigger than the manga market nowadays.”

Yen Press is basically Hachette Book Group’s graphic novel and manga line. I actually bought my first light novel at Comic Con, Sword Art Online: Aincrad. I watched the anime and loved it (I’m still keeping up with the 2nd Season.). It’s interesting that Yen On will be publishing 2 other works with MMO and virtual reality themes, Log Horizon and No Game No Life.

I’m quite curious what the future holds for light novels in the West. Will we see more of this style of pop lit? Will novelists be collaborating more with graphic/manga artists?

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