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I'll admit, I'm not exactly a follower of Spice and Wolf, or anything at all that I can't get at my local bookstore or on television, for that matter. But then, when you frequent TV Tropes as much as I do, you learn a lot about series you'd otherwise never hear about, purely through osmosis. Add that to the fact that light novels virtually never come Stateside (except when the franchises they spawned become pretty famous in the U.S., such as the inescapable Haruhi Suzumiya), and you can imagine my surprise to hear that the original light novels for Spice and Wolf have been announced for the U.S..
But don't break out the confetti just yet, ladies and gentlemen. See, someone at publisher Yen Press thinks the original cover art featuring ex-harvest goddess and eponymous lupine Holo (and it is Holo) in cute anime girl form will have red-blooded American readers marching against them in armed rebellion. No, instead they've gone for a cover design that's intended to appeal to a different audience...the American male crotch.
Dare to compare:
Sleazy U.S. cover
Original Art Cover
I mean, seriously. Which would you prefer to display on your bookshelf? Sure, the one on the right can mean anything from "I'm a fan of anime and manga" up to "I have a thing for kemonomimi (and possibly a full-blown furry fetish)", but the one on the left unambiguously says "I let my zipper choose all of my reading material". I understand that Holo does spend a fair amount of time naked (her natural form is a full-fledged wolf, after all), but seriously: the cover on the left makes it look like a trashy romance novel. Or, less charitably, porn. Which is sad, because I hear that Spice and Wolf is a fairly intellectual story: the spice the title alludes to is not the stuff you see in the U.S. cover, but the fact that its other protagonist is a trader. Who, in addition to adventure, has to deal with (and explain to Holo) the concerns relevant to his profession. That's right...plenty of fantasy novels are steeped in political intrigue, but this is one steeped in economics. And such a crazy-sounding concept is enough in and of itself to sell me on it.
None of this is to say that I have an issue with them changing the cover. With the above in mind, it's possible this book might have a much wider audience than the anime/manga fans that the original cover would rope in. But trying to sell Spice and Wolf purely on naked Holo is only going to drive this potential audience away. If you're going to pander to an audience, pander to the people who might appreciate an intellectual fantasy story, a tale with a distinctly non-standard protagonist with non-standard goals and motivations. If Yen Press is so afraid that anime-styled Holo is going to scare away readers, then maybe they should try selling the story on the spice instead of the wolf.
Got an intellectual, reasoned argument against this contemptible cover? Go to Yen Press' blog entryand give them what for!
(And if you don't have one, then please, stay the hell away! The last thing Yen Press needs to think is that the only people complaining about the cover are nutjobs saying they're the devil incarnate for not calling her "Horo"!)