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There is a lot of great series translated by folks like Baka-Tsuki - so, why do series take forever to end up over here, and for that matter, once they're licensed - how come some releases are so spread apart?

  • Spice and Wolf used to be a 6-month release cycle from Yen Press - it has been reduced now but this is still quite long
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, and others also find themselves on strange timelines.

Does it really take that long to translate or is there something else here? I've heard things like they're licensed one at a time and they gauge sales before going on.

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    Have you read anything translated by Baka-Tsuki? Most of it is unpolished barely-English rubbish that would never pass muster at an actual publishing company. Producing good translations of novel-length fiction is difficult, and so I'm not surprised that it takes a while. (Of course, there may be other factors; this is just one that immediately comes to mind.) – senshin Nov 18 '13 at 22:34
  • Light Novels is a smaller market than Manga or the usual products, so companies are usually wary about licensing them unless their anime/manga counterparts are large hits – Toshinou Kyouko Nov 18 '13 at 23:19
  • Baka Tsuki only translates things legally by the way. That could be part of the reason. They get permission before they put it on their website. – krikara Nov 19 '13 at 9:05
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    That's not right, Baka-Tsuki does not translate really "legally", and they of course don't get permission of the original publishers. That said, they're not exactly "illegal" either, they're in a gray area. – Ikzer Nov 19 '13 at 9:54
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Light Novels are indeed harder to translate, but that isn't the real cause for their delay. The market for LN is really small outside Japan for a number of reasons so companies aren't interested in publishing them unless they are for very famous franchises (like Haruhi), and even then it's very risky.

As I said, translations and edition arent the reason per se, but that also affects. Translations in sites like Baka-Tsuki, while being done with lots of effort and having lots of stages for correction and quality check, doesn't quite fit the quality expected for a commercial release. Even in Baka-Tsuki the translations takes lots of time to be published, corrected and polished, so you can imagine how long that would take for a commercial-quality release.

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    +1. The author of Log Horizon said the sole issue with translating his LNs is profitability. Finding a good translator is merely a matter of price. – Lawton Dec 8 '13 at 2:31
  • Marketing is another issue. If you don't market your titles, who's (aside from people that are already fans) going to know you can get it? – кяαzєя May 2 '14 at 17:52
  • I think the marketing aspect is probably what killed the US release of Nisio Isin's Zaregoto novels. They didn't have a famous anime behind them like Haruhi did, and even the Bakemonogatari anime hadn't been released over here at the time, so they had no marketing power at all. – Torisuda Nov 11 '14 at 22:30

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