Free Light Novels! Wait…Huh?

October 5, 2009 at 12:17 am 3 comments

As we all know, light novels, like manga, aren’t exactly cheap. Some are the same price as manga, others cost more. If you’re an aficionado of any kind of translated media like anime, manga, and videogames, you know that the price can be higher than most of the domestic releases of similar media.

I don’t mind paying the eight to ten dollars for light novels every once in a while, especially if it’s for a light novel that I really love. It’s only after buying the third and fourth volume that you’ll begin to realize that this is going to be an expensive habit.

So what do you do about it? You cut your costs. You don’t have to stop buying light novels altogether, but there are ways that you can curve your spending and still enjoy all the light novels that you love.

Google Books

For me, Google Books has been a big help in locating the light novels that I like and a few I’ve never even knew were published. In my library right now are more light novels than I ever expected to find. They may only be limited previews, but there are enough pages available for reading to help me decide if it’s a title that I want to purchase in the future. So far, I’ve found Hiroshi Ohnogi’s Rahxephon, Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Dark Wars: The Tale of Meiji Dracula, issue one of FAUST, and NisiOisin’s Zaregoto and XXXholic: Anotherholic. Google Books is supposed to continually add books to their library, so I’m interested in seeing what other titles will appear in the future.


I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of a preview. Previews serve as a way to help us decide if we want to buy the light novel or not, and they can keep you entertained if you just want to read a light novel without paying anything. Many publishers will post light novel previews online for you to read. The best previews are the ones that you can download and read at any time without having to return to the publisher’s site. The pdf versions of previews are surprisingly long. I’ve read light novel previews of “Haruhi,” “The Ballad of a Shinigami,” “The Guin Saga,” and many others.

Fan Translations

Fan translations have always been a good way for anyone to read a light novel for free. A lot of the light novels that are translated are novels that may never make an official debut in America. Baka-Tsuki and Shoku Dan are just two places that I’ve been able to find some light novel translations. Be sure to give those a try. However, please keep in mind that fan translations often differ in quality. Do not mistake a poor translation for ‘bad writing’ on the author’s part. These translations serve primarily as a substitute for the lacking official translations. And we highly hope that if you enjoy a fan translation that you will attempt to order the Japanese copy or eventual official English translation to support the series. Fan translations are not an excuse to not pay money for the novel.


Just like any avid manga reader camped out in the manga section of the bookstore, you too can go to your favorite bookstore and read all of the light novels you want. The fast-paced writing style lends itself well to this kind of reading because you can usually finish a light novel in one sitting.


If you’re really hardcore about light novels, you can definitely find them online, scanned, and in their rawest form, untranslated Japanese. Even if you’re just semi-proficient with the language, you should still be able to enjoy some of your favorite titles in the raw. Run a search on your favorite titles and see if you can find what you’re looking for. Please keep in mind however that the above is technically by law illegal. You are reading scanned books. Please be sure to buy the novel off of the Japanese Amazon website or through a local Japanese book store or Market if you enjoy it. Use light novel Raws as a preview method only, and not as a way to get out of paying.

Have any more suggestions on how we can read light novels for free? Share them with us! Leave a comment below.


Entry filed under: Articles.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kafkafuura  |  October 5, 2009 at 11:10 am

    I wish we had a kinokunia…

    If you buy novels directly from Japan, buy them in buik – ~10 at a time at least, because if you buy them only a little at a time per unit they’ll cost a lot (due to shipping), if you get about 10, per unit they’ll be less than what your ordinarily pay for books here.

    As a caution. Even light novels tend to use a much higher level of language, just because it’s written vs. dialogue. So if you’re going to attempt to read them, try reading some manga first – and when you feel you’re ready, float around a few grammar sites first ^_^.

    Also, try to buy or the market will collapse D:< Previewing is fine before making a big investment, but the more people buy – the more profitable writing is – the more stuff will be brought over.

    I understand the condition of being too poor though D: Just do what you can. ^_^

  • 2. NanoZero  |  October 5, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for the tips, they’ll help.

    Places like Hong Fire are really good to look for RAW light novels to download.

  • 3. Clarice  |  May 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks for the tips 🙂 I wish I could really find raws on Madoka Magica… but alas, I couldn’t find one -.-


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Welcome To Ranobe Cafe!

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.

So come all you light novel enthusiasts! Come one and all! We may be a niche, and may represent one of the smallest markets in these economically troubled times, but we are also one of the most dedicated! So let us come together and support the industry we love and hold so dearly!



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