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Feelin' Debate-y: Spice and Wolf's US Cover

Spice and Wolf gets a new look.


 The alternative cover comes with Yen+, December issue
 The alternative cover comes with Yen+, December issue
So a couple of weeks ago, Yen Press unveiled the new American cover for the first Spice and Wolf novel. Kurt Hassler himself posted it, and attempted to preempt the comments he knew were coming-- because the cover has been decidedly westernized/mainstream-ified. Instead of the manga-style drawing of Holo (and yes, as with the anime, the original copyright owners and creators insist that her name is Holo, so don't come crying to ME about it), we have a naked photo of what is clearly supposed to be a naked Holo herself, grinning.

In an attempt to appease those who would freak, a slipcover with an English-language version of the original cover will be released with the December issue of Yen+.

But as you might imagine, that simply isn't enough for many fans. While many were supportive and some quite like the image, others cancelled their preorders and loudly demanded a change back. A large number claimed to support the concept of making the cover more accessible to non-otaku in the US, but didn't like this specific image.
 Seriously, what's wrong with her neck?
 Seriously, what's wrong with her neck?

Honestly, I would have to say I'm in the latter category. I think the image doesn't really represent the story very well-- which I could live with just fine, except I also suspect it's really badly photoshopped. What is going on with that weird dead-looking chunk of skin around her neck? And it also looks like they tried to shop her breast smaller, which is fine in theory I guess, but makes the breast look very...odd.

That said, I understand Yen and Hachette's need to publish the book in a way that will appeal to readers outside of the established market (i.e. English-speaking otaku who actually buy stuff), but what do you guys think-- will this cover do it?
John_Martoneon Oct. 4, 2009 at 6:45 p.m.
While I enjoy both covers, I can't say I'm too upset at the new cover. I mean, I think you're right. People who were going to buy it will buy it pretty much regardless of the cover, esp if it has the old cover in it.
 
The new cover does has a marketable look to it. The old cover not so much... total anime'esc.
giaon Oct. 4, 2009 at 6:50 p.m.
@John_Martone: I know it won't significantly lessen the number of otaku demo buyers who'll buy it no matter what, but I'm skeptical about whether it can actually attract NEW buyers. I troll through the fantasy and historical fiction sections mostly, and I suspect a cover like this would cause me to pass this book by. I could be wrong, of course, but...
king_mon Oct. 4, 2009 at 6:52 p.m.
the new cover looks like something Fabio would be on
rocketbomberon Oct. 4, 2009 at 6:53 p.m.
So the pouch [full of wheat, as we all know] isn't just at rest, but is bouncing around in the throws of vigorous... travel.  Which might explain it's odd placement.  It would be even better if the strap holding it were a tad longer and pouch wandered even further, to cover a nipple -- allowing the whole image to be presented in better light, as it were, with that small added modicum of virtue --  but the cover, as it stands, also works 
 
Honestly:  this was going to be a hard sell.  There is a hardcore fanbase (myself included) that would buy this anyway, and maybe a few other anime-fan-related sales, but past that:  zip.   
 
You know and I know: it's a fantastic story...  but it's not Grisham, or Brown.  This will never be a bestseller, mores the pity. 
 
No matter the cover, I'd buy it.  But to convince someone else to pick it up... maybe a non-anime, non-manga approach -- with tits -- was the way to go with this title. 
CalAggieon Oct. 4, 2009 at 6:54 p.m.
I also didn't mind too much when it came out but I got a few negative comments about the new cover when I wrote about it - one person said it was "wonderful as a piece of art, but terrible as a book cover choice over the original".
Sabason Oct. 4, 2009 at 7:47 p.m.

Canceling preorders? Over a cover? Doesn't seem like they were interested in the title much in the first place if that's all it takes to get them to cancel. I don't particularly care for the cover, but I've never been one to judge a book by its cover either.  Yen Press should've just made the cover reversible so people could pick, but eh. Guess they need to give people more incentive to pick up Yen Plus.

Light novels don't sell as well as they should even with titles like Kino no Tabi or Boogiepop. I buy as many as I can get a hold of but so many of them end up getting canceled or are up in the air. (Zaregoto book 2 better come out next year, Del Rey, or heads will roll). Viz and Yen Press are marketing their books differently and hopefully they'll do well enough to get more titles out.

JJOR64on Oct. 4, 2009 at 8:06 p.m.
What the hell is that shit?  Looks like the cover of some crappy romantic book from the USA.  I prefer the alternative cover.
Rathanyon Oct. 4, 2009 at 8:17 p.m.

It looks like a soft-core porno cover.  

Put me down for 'reaching new markets is good, but this attempt at it is fail."

OneGreatTurtleon Oct. 4, 2009 at 8:29 p.m.
 Compare: original The Goose Girl cover with the new, more hip The Goose Girl cover.
 
The former made me go "man I should read this Shannon Hale person, she looks good" (and she is) The latter made me go "what in the name of God have they done to this cover?"
 
The new Spice & Wolf cover is not the most egregious Bad Cover Offender I've seen, but it's just...unnecessary? If the bookstores just shove it in the manga section (as they are wont to do), it'll just get laughed at, if they shelve it with the other fantasy books in hopes of luring non-anime-fans and they open the book (EVERYONE OPENS A BOOK BEFORE THEY BUY IT) and see the anime pictures....isn't that misrepresenting advertising on the cover's behalf?
 
I think it's a good thing that Yen Press wants to go after a non-anime-fan market (as anime fans on the whole seem to be quite adverse to reading books with few pictures), but this isn't the way to do it. Even Del Rey light novels (Zaregoto) got stuck in the manga section of my local bookstore (but FAUST ended up under "SF/F Anthologies" :???:) Best solution there is cross-shelving, but that's hairsplitting only the most devout of in-the-know bookstore employees will think to bring up.
giaon Oct. 4, 2009 at 9:12 p.m.
@OneGreatTurtle: Well, since this is a Yen Press title, and Yen has Hachette behind them, I wouldn't be so quick to guess it'll be tucked in with the manga-- Haruhi, after all, was shelved with the regular YA fiction. I would guess that they're hoping Spice and Wolf gets shelved with the fantasy books, not manga. But I could be wrong, of course :)
Nebson Oct. 4, 2009 at 9:41 p.m.

B&N will indeed be putting Spice & Wolf in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section of all their stores.  I assume Borders & others will do the same.
SimonJoneson Oct. 4, 2009 at 10:06 p.m.
Honestly, aside from the creepy Joker-like grin, I dislike the choice of font color and size more than anything else.  Otherwise, I can understand their motivation to make a "civilian-friendly" cover, not least of which is the general performance of light novels in the market...
giaon Oct. 4, 2009 at 11:04 p.m.
@SimonJones: I totally understand it too, and I had no problem with, say, the Haruhi paperback cover. In fact, I bought it instead of the hardback with the original cover-- for the most part I buy for content, not appearance. And I'm sure I'll still pick the book up if/when I find it-- but I still feel like this particular cover wound up kind of doofy-looking at best (I still think her shape and coloring look VERY odd in places), rather than enticing or even interesting. :\
OneGreatTurtleon Oct. 5, 2009 at 4:37 a.m.
@gia: I think it depends on the bookstore in question, but I haven't checked where mine shelved the Haruhi novel (and I should so I can get the second novel while I'm at it). I was more worried it'd get tucked in with the manga rather than "oh they'll just stick it there".
 
I think (for the next volume, anyway) the best course of option would be to make the jacket cover dual-sided and sell it with the book, but that, of course, will not sell issues of Yen Press, even though it would make sense AND make the book look mildly more classy on the shelf.
JackSukeruon Oct. 5, 2009 at 6:15 a.m.
Hm, the fact that they would go out of their way to make a new cover to try to appeal to a wider audience says something about their confidence in the story I suppose. 
This get's me interested in reading it. 
 
...cover is kinda awful though, in execution rather than concept.
Chibi_Kajion Oct. 5, 2009 at 7:17 a.m.
Maybe it's just me but if I were to see this on a bookshelf I'd probably ignore it thinking it was some trashy romance novel. I can understand trying to appeal to the wider audience... but that you could at least make the cover look much better.
 
I can also understand the people who are unhappy about the slipcover as they would have to go out of their way to purchase another product in order to obtain it. Which is an idea I'm not exactly happy with,  no matter how great Yen + is(I've never check the magazine out).

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