Haikasoru Continues To Grow But Shakugan no Shana Remains Stagnant

December 17, 2009 at 4:37 pm 10 comments

While not being a light novel imprint, Viz’s new science fiction imprint, dubbed Haikasoru, is important for any fan of Japanese literature to pay attention to for more reasons than one. The imprint, which launched earlier this year, has published around six novels thus far, with two others on the way including “Book of Hero’s”, by the same author of “Brave Story”.

Over the past couple months, announcement’s regarding future titles has continued to grow, and by no means, has it decided to slow down.

We mentioned the acquisition of Otsuichi’s novel “Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse”, which was one of two books announced to be coming in 2010. However, today, we have new news.

Two more novels have been announced.

So then, is Haikasoru seeing good sale growth? Are the novels succeeding in comparison to light novel sales?

I went to Barnes and Noble.com to check out their sales ranking currently and was shockingly surprised at what I found.

To start off, “Zoo”, by Otsuichi comes in at #342,120

“The Lord of the Sands of Time” comes in at #207,607

“Usurper of the Sun” is #193,633

Coming in at #184,017 is “All You Need Is Kill”

Have you noticed anything yet? Perhaps the fact that all these novels are listed in the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS range?!

Now…here’s the real point, and I truly hope many people think about this and that this sparks a further discussion, but do you know what “Shakugan no Shana” as of today is ranked? The first novel that is, that was published back in 2007.



Stare at that number for a bit. Something should dawn on you. No, it isn’t your imagination, go look back at the other numbers above. Yes, that’s right, your eyes aren’t fooling you, Shakugan no Shana is outselling all of Haikasoru’s newly released novels.

But lets go further shall we? What is the SECOND Shana novel ranked at? Obviously lower, right? Right?


That’s right, the SECOND Shakugan no Shana novel is outselling not only the first Shana novel but the entire original line-up of novels by Haiksoru.

But let us not forget, that Haikasoru’s most recent publishing was of two paperback “re-print” editions of “Brave Story” and “Battle Royale”. So how did their numbers fare?

Battle Royale comes in at a staggering #12,986

Brave Story follows behind with #66,336

So what does this information seem to imply? That two already established novels are selling pretty well, but that their original line-up is selling somewhat worse than many light novels, including their own.

But then, this begs the questions, what’s with all the licensing for more and more novels? As far as I remember, light novel publishers would start canceling novels as soon as those kinds of sale’s rankings would be seen, not getting more.

Either Viz knows something about the sales that we can’t see from the statistics at Barnes&Noble, or else they are fully committing themselves for a long haul in order to make their imprint a success eventually.

If so, I applaud them.

But just one quetion….

Why are you committing to a long haul for THESE novels? And yet…the Shakugan no Shana novels, which are selling currently BETTER than all of your original Haikasoru novels, are in a limbo with only two books out?

Perhaps Viz aren’t really fans of Shana? Perhaps their soul isn’t in it? Some might argue that, however, I don’t believe it’s true.

I had an e-mail conversation with someone at Viz a while back, and when I mentioned Shana, the person replied that some employee’s there enjoyed the books and would enjoy seeing more. Besides that, Viz has told us to keep on the look out for any announcements regarding the novels if they should make one. So they obviously haven’t abandoned the project.

So then why the delay? If they can afford low selling books like “Zoo” (#342,120), why can they not afford to publish Shana which has it’s second novel ranked at #106,492?

I frankly don’t understand it. It doesn’t quite make sense to me.

If Viz is in a position to continue a light novel series they started, why are they choosing not to do it?

I hope that this article has offered some questions for pondering, and that a healthy discussion can start not only in the comments section below, but on other websites and forums as well.

I want to make clear, in case I haven’t, that I am not making any accusations at Viz, nor am I attacking them in any way, I am merely confused as to how they are managing their Japanese novels. I would also welcome any employee of Viz who happens to read this article to leave an official reply of some kind regarding this. Perhaps Barnes and Noble’s stats have it completely wrong? Perhaps Haikasoru’s novels are in fact selling very well?

I should also mention the following notes regarding the Sales Rankings listed here from Barnes&Noble so as to give any reader a better understanding of just what the numbers that have been listed mean.

*Note: All numbers accompanying novels are not a representation of how many copies have been sold, but rather, the rank it holds with all others books being sold at Barnes & Noble.

*Additional Note: Barnes and Noble Sales Rankings are based on a 6 month rolling sales period. Which means that this data is only based on the past 6 months of sales and nothing before that. So please keep all that in mind when discussing this data.

Many fans want more of the Shakugan no Shana novels published. My question is then, why isn’t Viz giving them what they want?


Entry filed under: Articles, News.

Otsuichi Returns With A Bang! Spice and Wolf: POLL

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Scrumly1  |  December 18, 2009 at 1:19 am

    Maybe they’re looking to diversify away from manga(which light novels get lumped in with at most bookstores)

  • 2. Nitta  |  December 18, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Maybe it’s not that easy… But they should advertise their light novels! I’ve never knew about the english Shana novels, just when I searched on Bookline and accidentaly found them.

    They have magazines like Shounen Jump etc. I think it would be good if they put 4-5 sample page of the novels in them 😀 They can’t wait until the fans realize that there are Shana novels -.-

  • 3. Nekkou  |  December 18, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    if they will keep it this way i think we will see fan-made translations a lot quicker…

  • 4. yivx  |  December 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Haikasoru was never about light novels to begin with. Their intents were hard science fiction and fantasy.

  • 5. Sharillon  |  December 19, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    I kinda like all of those novels. But somehow the “marketing” is quiet… “silent”…

    I would love to see more manga/anime-fans pick up those novels or LNs.

  • 6. sveczst  |  December 22, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I don’t know about B & N, but at my local Borders store Shakugan no Shana is shelved with the Manga, but the Haikasoru titles are in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Trade book section. I think that may be hurting the sales. I know I went looking for the Haikasoru books first in the Manga section. Plus they had only one copy of each and after I bought The Lord of the Sands of Time I went back a week later for All You Need Is Kill and it was gone. As far as I know they haven’t restocked it. On the other hand they usually have multiple copies of Shakugan no Shana shelved right with the the manga version.

  • 7. CCT  |  December 23, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Maybe they’re waiting for season 3 to come out before releasing more Shana novels? Just a thought lol.

  • 8. Falcen  |  December 30, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I find it odd how Viz has published all four volumes of the manga, too. That’s not to say that the manga is bad, it’s amazing, but I think fans are getting sick of reading same story arc over and over again.

  • 9. Adrian Werner  |  January 10, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I would imagine licensing novels like those would be dirty cheap compared to licensing something as popular in Japan as Shana novels are. Plus all those new novels are one shots, while stuff like Shana requires long term commitement from publisher

  • […] in. Japanese literature, I can go for that, since it’s usually in stand alone volumes (as this post from The Ranobe Cafe explains, Haikusoru’s imprint of Japanese SF might not be selling as well as on hiatus light novels, […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

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!



%d bloggers like this: