Yen Press Unveils English Spice and Wolf Novel

September 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm 27 comments

So after many many months since the initial announcement by Yen Press of their aquisition of the best selling Light Novel series “Spice and Wolf” written by author Isuna Hasekura, and much speculation regarding the possible new english cover, Yen Press yesterday finally put all the rumors to a rest, unveiling the new cover before hundreds of eager fans.

Intrigingly, unlike with the english addition of “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”, the Yen Press announcement starts off by appologizing to the fanbase reading. Apparently, they themsleves could forsee how fans might react to the new radically re-designed cover.

Now, here are the details. Unlike with Haruhi, the novel will not apparently have a hardback release, but will only contain a mass paperback release, using the cover as seen to the left.

However, to make ammends with fans, they will be offering a slip cover for the novel in the December issue of Yen+ magazine which fans can use to put over the book which will contain the original cover art. This follows in the footsteps of many magazines in Japan. The third manga of Spice and Wolf was offered an alternative slip cover in Japan through the manga magazine serializing it.

Yen+ will also be providing a preview of the novel in their magazine.

Even with this, fans erupted in a fury.

“Her boob looks…. somewhat… lopsided. Like someone took a blur/smudge tool and scribbled over the image in a straight line. (Trying to refrain from the ‘this looks shopped’ line here.)
Her boob really shouldn’t be flat on one side. It’s freaking me out! Poor Horo!”
wrote Bonita in their comments section.

“Vomit. Why couldn’t you do it like Haruhi? Include the original cover with a hardback release or something along those lines. I do not want this thing on my shelf.” said another user who went by “h”.

“Well, I just cancelled my preorder. I find this cover prurient and distasteful. I cannot imagine this generating new sales, and while I have no general problem with ‘Americanization’ in general, I frankly hope this specific attempt fails.” wrote Travis.

“After seeing this cover, I’ve canceled my order. Please consider other options to make the Ayakura cover more accessible and affordable and I’ll reconsider my decision as well. I won’t purchase this as it is, however.” typed another user who went only by “-“.

“I don’t think that the new cover represents the spirit of Spicy Wolf very well. When I think of Spicy Wolf, nude wolf girls are not what comes to mind first. What does come to mind are images of medieval economics. This cover seems like it should be next to a Fabio romance novel.” said Faris.

But even with a wall of fans crashing angrily against Yen Press, there were among them, an almost equal ammount of fans defending the companies marketing decisions.

“Ugly cover, but i will buy the LN because i like the story, and i will buy the Yen+ december number too. I hope the hardcore fans dont be angry with the change, i understand what YP want do, the same like Tokyopop, TP fails and i hope YP not.” wrote Eris.

“Although I’m disappointed that you’re not using the original, I’m glad that we still have access to it! Thank you very much, and looking forward to the December release!” wrote Shirachi.

“I can completely understand changing cover designs to bring into audiences. It’s unfortunate, but necessary; light novels just don’t make enough profits from the manga community alone. That said, it’s cool that you guys are offering a cover slip. I hope light novels will be successful for once.” said Arc.

“W00T for SPICE AND WOLF! I love Light Novels and I’m definitly picking this one up.” said Demio.

“I am so glad that you are also making the slip jacket for us hardcore fans of this wonderful series. It just goes to show that Yen Press really knows what their fans want and are willing to try and please us all. I can’t wait to get my hands on the novel and December’s issue of Yen+!” typed BillChiu

“I think the new cover is pretty gorgeous in itself. I hope it succeeds to bringing in a bigger audience!” said Kiri.

“I think the cover is beautiful and mysterious. It just goes to show how backwards-minded the American culture is about nudity with so many people calling this “tasteless”. It is a very tasteful cover, doesn’t show too much at all.” added  Katelyn.

It’s obvious that the ammount of opinion on this cover decision are large, and some valid points to consider have been mentioned by users in the comment section.

In response, “Hassler” of Yen Press replied in a comment, “Lots and lots of comments! Feedback is never a bad thing.
We appreciate the support from everyone offering it, and we understand the frustration of others. We’ve received a lot of interesting suggestions about other possible ways to get cover versions featuring the original art into fans’ hands going forward, and we’ll be exploring their feasibility.”

I’m glad they are reading the comments of users and listening sincerely to them. But now, I’d like to give my own thoughts regarding this, and ask for Yen Press to hear me out on what I have to say.

First off, since this is the most heated part of this announcement, let’s talk above covers. Do I personally like it? No. I personally feel the cover somewhatpresents Spice and Wolf in a wrong light. However, I’m guessing there’s nothing that can be done about it by now, since you probably have already begun printing copies with it.

I am VERY thankful to you for providing a slip cover with the colored cover. Really, I am so thankful.

In fact,  since from what I understand Spice and Wolf will be published in paperback, this marks the very FIRST ever paperback English light novel to recieve a slip cover, much like the ones in Japan come with on default. So congratulations, you’ve made history!

Secondly, the issue on many fans minds is the name change from “Horo to Holo”. As much as I disagree with this, I will respect the fact that the Japanese publisher (and hopefully with the authorization of the author) decided the L looked better than the R. I disagree, but I shall respect their decision.

Thirdly, what am I mad if anything about? I’ll tell you, and it’s the one thing not brought up in the comments by fans.

There is something that the covers ARE MISSING.

What? you ask.

There is a tagline that appears on EVERY Spice and Wolf novel in Japan, it’s even printed in English on the Japanese releases. It says “Merchant Meats Spicy Wolf”. It appears right alongside the title.

What makes me mad, is that the original colored cover being given in Yen+ is even lacking it. This tagline is IMPORTANT. The author has admitted that the tagline’s mispelling of “Meets” to “Meats” is eluding to something not yet shown in the story. I politely ask that Yen Press add this tagline to the slip cover edition ASAP. The original cover just isn’t complete in my eyes without that famous tagline.

Otherwise, with that tagline added, I can happily 100% support Yen Press’s goal of making Holo *cough*it’s better as Horo*cough* a household name.

I think any true fan of this story should buy this novel, and for those who say they have canceled or hope that Yen Press will fail, all I can do is shake my head sadly. It is fans like that who will hinder the light novel industry from suceeding in the future. They need the books to sell to more than just the fanbase. Perhaps in the future, if Spice and Wolf becomes a best selling novel in the US, we can have a proper cover release of the novel as a collectors edition.

So I eagerly look forward to Yen Press’s release of Spice and Wolf, and congratulate them on getting their hands on something so special.

Also though, a question was asked that I feel needs an answer. Will Yen+ give a special slip cover for every novel release of Spice and Wolf? Because that would be great. 😉


Entry filed under: Articles, News.

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27 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  September 25, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Btw, that sample of fan reactions is completely biased because Yen Press moderates comments on their News posts. I myself made a post that was extremely negative and it was deleted.

    Also, it’s not about “taste” or “prurience,” it’s about the fact that 3D is pig disgusting.

    • 2. ranobecafe  |  September 25, 2009 at 5:47 pm

      It should be noted that according to Yen Press on a message board, that the cover shouldn’t look 3D, and the fact that it does, is merely a defect in the computer image your viewing, not the actual cover. Apparently its a photograph. So perhaps its not as bad as we are seeing? lol

  • 3. Thunderbird  |  September 25, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    I wonder if they’re doing this to sell more magazines? Hmm…

  • 4. Stappes  |  September 25, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Hey Anonymous

    Did you say this?

    linger Says:
    September 25th, 2009 at 3:11 PM

    Sorry, but 3D is pig disgusting.

    As you probably guessed I can read it still. Sometimes when I make a comment it disappears but then sometime later it pops back up. Sorry for getting off point.

    I actually like the cover, but is does look cg; but its not suppose to? Weird. Well I suppose the best way to judge would be to look at it with my hands wrapped around it. And my thoughts went to “fricken AWESOME A light novel with a slip cover”, rather than “RAGE”. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

    • 5. ranobecafe  |  September 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm

      Exactly! I am really excited to own the first ever english paperback light novel with a slip cover! So cool! It’ll actually be similar finally to my Japanese light novel editions. lol

      Although I do agree, that perhaps a better marketing decision should have been to provide the slip cover automatically. But instead of the original cover being the slip, the new one would, and it would be slipped over the original, to hide it from the mainstream public. But oh well, what’s done is done. lol

  • 6. Stappes  |  September 26, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Or sell 2 versions one with the new art and another bundled with the slip cover. They can’t really do what they’re doing with haruhi can they? I think that would be more expensive.

  • 7. nolwenn961  |  September 26, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    I’m not a real big fan of the cover, but I understand why they’re doing it. They are a publisher, and they want to make money. The cover is just to expose a greater audience to the work. Not every avid reader shops in the manga section of the bookstore, so they wouldn’t see it. This cover will probably get the novel shelved in the science fiction/fantasy section where there’s a greater chance for the novel to sell. The content is still the same. I still think that an alternate cover should be offered, though.

  • 8. kafkafuura  |  September 26, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I see why they were nervous, but it makes sense that they want to try to branch out of the manga crowd. I’m grateful that they’ve made a slip cover to amend ties with the fans of the series/keep us happy- but they can’t keep to pleasing the small crowd if they’re ever going to expand.

    Personally, I like the original cover a lot better, but I have vested interest in Japanese style art/illustration. That same style we all love would turn a lot of people off in the English speaking world. The cover that they’ve chosen as default looks a lot more like covers you see in bookstores nowadays anyway. I don’t really view it as anything like a “sellout”.

    As for the tagline phrase. No matter how important it is – it would stop a lot of people from picking up the book. They would view it as a translation mistake, something childish – in other ways get the wrong idea of the book.

    The English cover is – alright to be honest. I don’t think it’s “prurient” – it’s pagan :> | and Horo’s supposed to be attractive in that wheaty sort of way. I think it fits. I hope the “artistic style” grabs readers too, because I’m sure it will.

    The “Horo/Holo” topic is moot. She’ll always be Horo to me, but that’s because I can pronounce a Japanese ‘r’ which sounds more like an ‘l’ to an English speaker anyway. – I’d rather hear someone on the street say “Hollow” than “Whore-oh”. I would have preferred, in personal preference, the writer to have romanized her name as “Horo” instead of “Holo” but even in Japan it’s “Holo” technically. (I still stand by the fact that Horo just can’t spell her own name properly). In short: Horo screwed up her spelling and spelled her name as Holo once and so now the world is stuck with it. I won’t complain anymore 🙂

    I think having an alternate cover for all would be troublesome to their cost/profit plan. Their current plan really isn’t a heavy price to pay. Plus, it’s better than a special edition that sells out as you click the “buy now” button D: (I’ve had too much experience in that area ;-; )

    • 9. ranobecafe  |  September 26, 2009 at 3:21 pm

      I meant, that the tagline should be added to the ORIGINAL SLIP COVER edition. Since that is for the fans, it should naturally be there, right? There’s no reason not to include it on the slip cover.

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  • 11. Demio  |  September 27, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    sweet I’ve been quoted. Also, content over rules cover.

  • 12. Hammer  |  September 28, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    I don’t know who this Holo person is.
    Is she a Holo-gram?
    Also the new cover might as well have “Twilight and Wolf” on it instead.
    Also, photo covers on fantasy books always look like garbage. Hire an artist to paint something. Jeez.

  • 13. Krikit  |  September 29, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Uhm, I don’t hate it I guess…but it’s not going to be my first choice, and I don’t want family or friends to think I’ve got a p***-o book on my shelf O_o. However, I think I need to direct our attention to the Japanese light novel. And perhaps why Yen-Press chose this as the outside cover.

    If you remember, there is a color insert in the first novel that looks like this:

    And then again to this:

    You can see they aren’t necessarily “disrepecting” or “changing’ any real content in the book. They are just portraying one of the scenes in the book. That of when Lawrence first encounters Hor(l?)o. I think it should have remained an insert though, but at least this way, when you get the book, you know what one of the inserts might look like.

    Plus, I really dislike the drawn style of her smile in the CGI-like version…what’s with that??? Horo’s smile should look more like this:

    What I mean, is you should be able to see the canine-like teeth…as it is, the CGI-image seems to be missing that…and her smile just makes the book look kind of like a horror story O_o

    But it’s not bad, just…I think maybe it would have been better to put it in the book, instead of on the outside >.<

  • 14. Jacob Martin  |  October 1, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Get over it! Plenty of Western novels have had contemptible cover changes over the years, Terry Pratchett for example as well as Charles Stross. I’ll still buy this because I want the chance to read Spice and Wolf, never seen the anime so I will be reading it with fresh eyes.

    Who says that light novels have to have the same cover as the first edition in English? I am reminded of the debate between Dave McKean cover of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and the Chris Riddell version.

    Controversial covers are an issue which will always be around, who knows, I’m yet to meet a cover which will offend me to the core.

    • 15. ranobecafe  |  October 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

      My personal only problem with the cover was, and still is the fact that for the FAN VERSION with the original cover, they left out a tagline which is important to the book series as a whole. There is no reason for this, considering its the FAN SLIP COVER version. So it is my hope that Yen Press will add it before printing them.

  • 16. 21stcenturydigitalboy  |  October 1, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Holy **** shit that is one ugly ass ******* cover (Please keep your language clean while making comments on this blog. Thank you.)

  • 17. Khal  |  October 2, 2009 at 12:11 am

    So in summary, more reasons I need to devote much more time and effort into learning to read Japanese.

  • 18. NanoZero  |  October 6, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Despite the terrible cover, I’m still going to buy it because light novels really need the support here (that means I’m gonna have to buy the YEN PLUS issue with the original cover.)

  • 19. Hakkai687  |  October 6, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I have to say that I have been looking forward to this light novel since the moment I first watched spice and wolf. However the changes they have made are just …. bad… I can stand the cover to a point the smile would have been better if there was no teeth showing and the hair was the right color I think then it would have been agreeable or at least have some clothes on and try to imitate the original. Second I don’t even think I can read it now. Changing the characters name? How can you do that? yes its only a R to and L but still thats just wrong I can’t look at that name and even like it. They are destroying the story by just doing that. Holo … it just doesn’t even come out right. When you change a work of art 9 times out of ten you ruin it. I am considering learning to read in japanese and buy from them. I would rather do that then have a broken and mangled piece of work. How could the author agree to change the name. I could have dealt with the cover…. I could have dealt with buying the magazine… But I CAN NOT deal with a name change.

    • 20. ranobecafe  |  October 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

      I realize how you feel. But its not a NAME CHANGE. It was NEVER HoRo. We as fans simply preferred that spelling and started using it and BELIEVED that would be the official romanization. But apparently, the author or at least her publishing house believed it was with a L and have kept it that way. You should still buy the novel to support the industry and show. ^_^

    • 21. FlareKnight  |  November 11, 2009 at 2:59 am

      Finally someone that truly mirrors my own feelings on this :). The cover is…well not good but that’s excusable. Though I think the choice will just make less people interested in checking it out but that’s just my opinion.

      Completely agree that going to Holo (gah that’s hard to just type) pretty much makes it unreadable for me. I can understand the logic behind it. I can understand that L or R were both valid to use. But that doesn’t change that the L just doesn’t feel right. Just seems off that the entire fandom could go with Horo and then they hit you with the L for the official English translations.

      I have mixed feelings about when it comes out. Do want to support the series and certainly want more light novels to come over. Yet I don’t want to say “wow I think you guys did everything wrong, here’s my money, keep it up.” Does anyone seriously care what fans think as long as they still get their money in the end?

      Maybe I’ll still end up getting it. Probably just stick it on a shelf and never look at it again. Or maybe I won’t buy it. I’m just that uncertain at this point.

  • 22. Anon  |  October 14, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Had intended to import this through Amazon but with the cover change, my purchase plans are now on hold until one with the original cover gets printed (if that ever happens). If it still doesn’t materializes, there’s always a website that has already translated some of the Spice and Wolf volumes for me to turn to (an irony since I read some of the Spice and Wolf’s translated volumes there and liked it so much that I had intended to purchase it upon hearing the YP is releasing an English version of the LN).

    Plus, I’m not going to spend extra money just to buy an additional magazine which I don’t need. It’s bad enough having to deal with currency exchange and shipping costs.

    —The above comment is awaiting moderation on YP’s message board. But is interesting to see if it goes through—

  • 23. Nick  |  October 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    first off, i think its great they want to increase there target audiance i really do however i feel theres alot of disrespect to fans over smaller details, remembering that fans are the ones who will be annoyed over these not the “new” audiance. so onto my points. and im giving some of these points with the knowledge of being a cameraman/editor.

    the hair on the model isnt long enough (really how hard is it to fix that small detail)

    the angle is really messed up, who cuts of the photo half way through the girls nose? now she just looks deformed and its irritating.

    that smile is wrong completely, feels like its making fun of horo.

    lighting on the tail is wrong it just doesnt look right.

    im agreeing on the side of fans about the nude wolf girl, it just doesnt fit although i do understand the reason behind it its just really sad too think about it that way.

    heres a great point on the slip cover, it available with the december issue and not the actual book 0_o trying to get more sales and subscriptions at the cost of S&W fans, very not cool.

    so question, i really dont like the art so i have the slip cover, now what do i get to cover up the horrible art for the next volumns? am i supposed to reuse the same one? because quite frankly i really like seeing the different original art covers for each one, its one of the biggest selling points to me and im sure quite a lot of other fans. (this is one reason why ppl are cancelling orders so please dont shake your head at these people for that reason).

    the name change, how much of a better reaction do you get from changing horo to holo? really i would like to know. because personally i find it highly irritating to read and have the name incorrect, feels like a betrayal of the character.

    on the tagline point, im guessing they dont want to add the tagline because if you have the name of the first volumn, you cannot use the same slip cover on the rest of the volumns, thats one idea. very sad though i do like the taglines.

    you knw what would be a nice experiment that someone touched on, have a hardcover copy or even a paperback with the original art then after a few months of sales somewhere on your website have some statistics up to show fans the difference between the 2, because without that, the more serious fans are not going to believe you.

    personally and im sure the same with others, if there was a copy of this in either hardback or paperback with the original art and a slightly higher price i would buy it without question, i dont mind paying more for what i want.

    *sigh* real pity though i wanted this series quite alot but like i mentioned, i adore the original art of this peticular series so i wont be buying this, however if a original set comes out even if more expensive, they can count on me buying the whole series.

    so honestly myself and seems to be alot more, feel that yen publishing has really betrayed them and the original work.
    personally despite there idea’s to benefit the fans, i honestly feel they are really just covering up and lying to the fans, i sense no feeling of truth in there words at all and it hard too believe when so many small details are changed, that honestly probably didnt need to be changed.
    book aside im unhappy with the way yen publishing has gone about this behind the fans backs.
    so ill wait and see if theres changes but this issue aside, given the way yen publishing has gone about this in general, makes me not want to have anything to do with them.
    i like helping out and supporting groups that understand and make a effort even if its a radical change, if your upfront about changes and issues before you start the process, trust me alot more fans would have been more sympathetic instead of just having this thrust upon them with a cheesy “we hope they will support us in this endevour” cause honestly i would have loved to help out and been supportive if they had done the same thing throughout the process steps.
    COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT – is very much a key element to fan bases, i would suggest you have some one working for you that does this role.

    on a different field but same point, if you looked at the command and conquer gaming franchise, its one of the most successful franchises around and there key point is community management, they let the fans no what they doing and thinking and the fans have there opinions and theres a mutual trust because they knw they were at least asked honestly for there opinions from the start and i respect that.
    most of those fans would buy there games without even looking at because they trust them that much.
    aim for that and im sure your fans would follow your decisions alot more easily.

    anyone agree or disagree let me knw.

  • 24. hydra  |  October 21, 2009 at 11:11 am

    I guess I’m a little late here, but I heard about the light novel release. Awful cover, really. I get what they’re going for, but the cover makes it looks like some schlocky third-rate fantasy novel. Somehow I don’t see fans of those kinds of books taking much interest in the ins and outs of trade and currency exchange. I’m not all that excited about having to buy an overpriced magazine just to get the original cover either. I’ll still buy the book, but I’ll probably just tear the cover off. It’s just the insides that count, I suppose.

  • 25. Robert Varulfur  |  November 8, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Honestly I wish that they had kept the original cover because that’s the spirit of Spice and Wolf.

    I’m sure just about anyone can understand my problem with it. I’m a teenager so walking around with that book in hand it’s going to do more than just raise a few eyebrows. Its funny because this light novel is more of an economical handbook than a perverted story like the cover makes it out to see.

    I can understand what you meant by those who aren’t going to bye it or are hoping it fails are wrong but I think that in a roundabout way they are right. I don’t want it to fail but it will. I think when it comes down to it having a cover like this is going to yes catch peoples eyes but they are just going to walk away thinking it is nothing more than, like you said, a romance novel.

    Perhaps they could do it 50/50. Half with the original cover and half with this newer cover. I think it would become obvious which one the fans want in doing this.

  • 26. Fail  |  January 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Re-posting how I feel everywhere.

    Yen Press are a sadly, laughable group of individuals. They continue to make horrible decisions. Relying on them is like keeping a bad girlfriend. She tells you she is gonna do things, but then doesn’t. She lies about caring about you. She only cares about what she is doing at that moment, and can’t be bothered to actually do what needs to be done.

    To be blunt. This website( got a about a 500% increase in comments, deleted comments, and general traffic during the height of this debacle. And they did nothing. LOL, one online retailer sent out covers, is nothing. They either never cared, or froze up like the guy that dies first on the battlefield. Weeks after the book has been released, and still no word from Hassler about more places to get a cover, even though he said he would update the list(lol, not likely huh?). You have failed to release a download-able/printable version of the cover, even after I, and others have posted links to one, here, in this very comment section. By the way Hassler(I once felt bad for you), saying “we simply aren’t set up with a direct-to-consumer infrastructure.”, only means that Yen Press isn’t going
    to do anything. Way to be a company echo.

    To sum it all up. I believe Yen Press has failed to bring fans an acceptable product(proven by the sheer amount of people who agree). And have failed to make amends(People are still angry, and still talk about it on internet forums). So I have no sympathy for them. I hope they fail.

  • 27. SvdM  |  March 25, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    (kinda late response, but I just learned about all this so I gotta say something)

    Even though my preference goes for the original manga-styled cover, I kinda like the new cover. It looks a bit artistic and professional, and it’s bound to attract new people in the light novel genre. I also very much like the idea of being able to remove the slip when you want people to think you’re reading something “normal”, just like you’re able to do in Japan. :3
    And about it giving a wrong impression of the series, I get where you’re coming from, but it doesn’t bother me at all. There are more novels out there with a bit of artistic nude on the cover.

    On the topic of Holo vs. Horo…

    I also prefer the Horo spelling, because I think the name sounds a lot more dignified when pronounced with a rolling R or Japanese R than with an L. Plus, to me the letters for “Holo” somehow don’t look right together, but that’s probably just because I’m not used to it.
    However, I agree with using “Holo” in English translation, because I would much rather have an entire nation pronounce it with an L than with an English R. That just doesn’t sound right to me. x3


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This marks the english speaking world's first dedicated light novel blog, bringing you news and views from the english perspective on light novels. We are more than just a blog about light novels though, we also stand in awe of the many other literary works crossing over to the West from Japan. So expect to also see articles that dabble from time to time in Cell Phone Novels and Japanese Sci-Fi works, to mention a few.

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