Thanks to Tony Yon, Mikia, arczyx and the other Indonesians who helped in making this article. It is also available in French.
After a first halt in China, let’s focus on Indonesia.
If there’s a common point with the French market, it’d be the lack of success for LNs, after failures from big publishers. However, since last year, others gave them a second chance.
Thus I’ve tried to find more about the previous attempts of publication, along with the market’s current state.
In Indonesia, the media conglomerate Gramedia almost monopolizes the book market, possessing publishers and a wide distribution network (physical stores and website).
From 2006 to 2011, its subsidiary Elex Media published LNs from the Japanese publisher Media Factory. They were rather unknown, aside God Family (Kamisama Kazoku), written by Yoshikazu Kuwashima and illustrated by Suzuhito Yasuda (Durarara!!).
Sold around 20000 rupiahs (1,70 $), their price was almost the same as the mangas sold by Elex Media. Nonetheless, the LNs have been stopped.
Three reasons may explain this failure: choosing long series, a difficult distribution in a country composed of many islands, and the books’ mediocre quality (especially the paper).
Meanwhile, a publisher named Shining Rose Media was created in 2010. It was only on 2013 that it started releasing LNs under the label Lite Novel (and not Light Novel).
While taking a different approach from its predecessor, starting from a decent usage of social networks.
On one hand, SRM publishes works from the Japanese publisher Ichijinsha, which doesn’t belong to Kadokawa (while Media Factory does). On the other hand, the volumes are sold around 50000 rupiahs (4,30 $), which represents the price of 2 to 4 mangas there.
This risky decision is compensated by an effort on the book’s fabrication: soft cover with a dust jacket, color pages, a good paper quality…
That said, if SRM also focuses on unknown series, they are rather short:
– Penguin Summer, one-shot written by Akira Mutsuduka and illustrated by Shino (Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi).
– Candid, one-shot written by Yasumi Obata and illustrated by Haruko Iizuka (animator and chara-designer).
– Leena’s World Map, series in 3 volumes written by Tsukasa Kawaguchi (Madan no Ou to Vanadis, Thousand and Aegis) and illustrated by Kanata Minamino.
Seeing the criticism on the litteral translations and some weird choices of words, it’s hard to know if SRM does well. Even so, it seems that other publishers are following this trend.
Among the 5 LNs published up to July 2014, 2 are from SRM (Candid and Leena’s World Map), the others being:
– Antique Fuga 1 from Bentang Pustaka, written by Yasuko Ambiru and illustrated by Totoya for the Indonesian version.
– The After-Dinner Mysteries from Penerbit Haru, written by Tokuya Higashigawa and illustrated by Yusuke Nakamura (The Tatami Galaxy).
– Moshidora from Mizan, written by Natsumi Iwasaki, unknown illustrator for the Indonesian version.
For Antique Fuga, illustrations didn’t exist in the original work, so the Indonesian version got original ones. For Moshidora, all the Japanese illustrations were replaced. Prices are close (but often inferior) to the 50000 rupiahs asked for SRM releases.
Some days before this article was published, a famous work was announced by a new publisher, Katalis: 5 Centimeters per Second, by Makoto Shinkai. I don’t know if the illustrations were taken from Japanese sources, or made for this Indonesian version.
If Indonesian publishers stay on the course of LNs, their market can only grow.
However, with an audience scattered on several islands and demanding on the quality of books sold at expensive prices, managing to gauge and satisfy it is a challenge that seems necessary to accomplish… else the market will sink again.