Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dust Jackets vs. No-Jackets

Because I am too damn lazy to write reviews (seriously, folks, it's hard to read a manga 3 times in a row unless it is an epic!), I will provide topics for discussion (just as good, in my opinion).

I was staring at my Yaoi shelf today (I group books by publisher), and I was noticing the ones with dust-jackets vs. the ones without. My personal preference is no-jackets because I believe in practicality over bells and whistles. It's easy for me to pick up one of my Be Beautiful books and start re-reading just because of its basic quality (huh?). It's true, when I pick up a book that has a dust jacket, I usually just end up flipping through it, taking off the jacket, putting it back on, and not reading the book at all. The bells and whistles of the manga should be a stellar translation, and the title itself. Have you ever bought a manga just because it looked pretty? Did you get burned?

When I pick up one of my jacketed books, I tend to focus on its quality rather than its contents. I know the publisher wanted me to get it because it dolled it up so I would THINK that it's a good buy. The only publisher who has the Dust-jacket down to an art is DQ. The gorgeous jackets accompany the flimsy and gentle books quite well, whereas June's jackets clothe a pretty large, heavy, and stiff tome. Same with 801, except smaller.

While this discussion is all very nit-picky, it's actually what companies consider before marketing themselves. Kitty Media and Be Beautiful, being two of the first English Yaoi companies, had no idea that fans might want the pretty dust-jackets and colour pages. As for this fan, I can do without.


  1. Oliver,
    I'm pretty indifferent on the dust jackets. I kind of like them because they look nicer when displayed on a bookshelf. But I don't make my choices on whether the book has a dust jacket. The fun thing about dust jackets however, is that sometimes you can find a bonus underneath the jacket. I love it! June has a hit or miss record on the jacket. I like them to fit tightly on the book. Sometimes they're tight and sometimes they're not. DramaQueen's are done well. But I only have a couple titles so I don't have much experience with them as a publisher. 801 Media is great because they're pretty tight and the books resemble the original Japanese tankubon. Now on the books without a jacket I would say that I lean towards BLU, the books generally have a matte finish to the covers which gives it a beautiful finish and you don't have to worry about smudges and fingerprints messing up the covers (I've got OCD, just lay off already). Deux Press is also a great publisher. They've got the crease worked into their covers so you don't have to worry about making nasty looking creases (OCD, remember!?). But I generally decide on my books based on the experience that I've had with the content of the publisher. I don't think you want to listen to my diatribe about yaoi publishers.


  2. Hi Kris, thanks again for posting a comment! I love your detailed comments, because I share the same OCD-ness.

    The 801 jackets are tight, I'll agree. I just haven't been overly excited about their license choices. More hit than miss with them, though. I give full credit, however, to DramaQueen for having all-around wonderful licenses, pretty dust jackets, and of course, the soft paper. My copy of "A Foreign Love Affair" from 801 is so stiff, that I literally have to wrench it open for a "casual" reading.

    You're right, you have to look at the publisher as a whole to decide whether or not you like the type of books they're producing. For me, Be Beautiful books are the best simply because the licenses are the best (if not, they're the most popular). I like a publisher that has the balls to license only the best. Not every publisher can be credited for that.

    And yes, I would LOVE to hear your diatribe about Yaoi publishers. What is your opinion? I welcome it!

  3. Hey Oliver,
    So, you want to hear my publisher diatribe, eh? Here goes!

    I often decide on choosing books based off the publishers. I'm really a newbie in regards to the manga world. I just started reading manga at the beginning of the year thanks to me checking out Gravitation. That was the first anime series that got me interested in reading manga (boys love too). Tokyopop doesn't really hold much for me because I really love yaoi so I spend more time with BLU (Tokyopop's boys love line, but you already know that). BLU has several titles that are really good ie Gakuen Heaven, Junjo Romantica, Voice or Noise, Shout Out Loud, Tea for Two, and many others. Initially I was a bit cheesed off when they jacked up the price, but they've thrown in a full color cover sheet. They have the great matte covers which make the books look that much classier.

    I haven't figured out the fascination with BeBeautiful. To me their books look like they just printed out poorly executed scanlations, slapped a cover on it plus threw on a $15.99 price tag. Yes they have licenses to some of the great series like Haru wo Daiteita (Embracing Love) and also hold licences for a couple of Haruka Minami titles. To be honest yes, I have several of their titles and I desperately want Embracing Love 2,5,6 and Haruka Minami's Virgin Soil. But I take issue with the quality in comparison to price. I honestly feel that a company like 801 would make the titles that BeBeautiful hold really shine.

    I know that you love Kitty Media so I hope that you don't take this to heart. They are the worst publisher out there. I have the three Scandalous Seiryo University books (which are great titles in and of themselves) but with the poor materials (I generally end up with more ink left on my fingers than that which is left on the book), massive spelling mistakes, and just bad production value all around I'm not a fan. I have no intention of purchasing any other titles from them.

    I only have a couple of DramaQueen titles but I have been impressed so far. I just wish that they would get their butts in gear and release more than they have been and make some of their previous titles available again. They have some titles and artists that I really want to check out and other artist that I really love (Makoto Tateno, Shushushu Sakurai, Kazuhiko Mishima, and Masara Minase). I think that if they upped their price a little more that would help get their financial things in order. Besides, the product they have is definitely worth it. If it weren't for their issues I would say that they could also help the BeBeautiful titles shine. Wishful thinking!

    I really like Boysenberry. They are new to the scene but one of my favorite titles happens to be Pet on Duty. I wish we could see more from this publisher. They really put out a great product. The books are on the smaller side, they are printed on a higher quality of paper, there is a full color cover sheet, and the books are fairly flexible so you don't injure yourself trying to keep the book open.

    Now my three favorite publishers are June, 801, and Deux Press. I know I'm focusing on the boys love aspect of all of this but your blog is about yaoi. Now here are my reasons for my liking of these three publishers. First, June. I like the beauty of the dust jacket. It makes for a nicer finished product, it's not necessary though. I've been introduced to many great artists and stories because of their releases. If I'm in need of some new yaoi to read I can always count on June to have something that will catch my eye. Since they license and release a lot of titles they can have some that aren't too great. Another reason I really like them is because of their staff. They are really helpful when you contact them.

    I love 801 because many of their titles are good. Even if there is a title that I may initially not be into, because their production value is that much higher I find myself not able to think too poorly of them. The President's Time was a title I thought would be lame, but as soon as I read it I fell in love. It's now one of my favorite all time books. They also don't shy away from something that might be a little crazy. They also publish some of the most amazing mangaka like Youka Nitta and Shiuko Kano. I am a bit of a completest so I have all (but the two newest) titles that 801 has released. There are only a couple titles that I would say I'm not a huge fan on but who cares. They also have a great staff and they really take care of their customers. I've gone to ordering straight from them because their packaging is simply adorable. Let me give you a quick anecdote on what I mean on taking care of their customers. When my copy of Love is Like a Hurricane 5 arrived, the book was missing like half a chapter. I shot off an email to them and they sent me a replacement copy at no cost to me and even checked the new copy to make sure it was all there. Besides I'm addicted to their blog (they are HILARIOUS) and I love 801-chan.

    Last but not least, Deux Press. They have great licenses. They have a lot of Shiuko Kano (she has quickly become one of my top five favorite mangaka). They may not have all the bells and whistles like my other two favorite companies, but they allow their manga titles do all the talking. I haven't been disappointed in any of their titles. Besides they are the ones who licensed Secret Connection erm I mean Noodle Shop Affair by CJ Michalski. They also have a great staff. Here's another anecdote. When you posted your list of mysterious yaoi titles and after I checked on Amazon, I decided to contact Deux Press. I got a quick response confirming the information. Plus I've also contacted them about a few things and they have been amazing each and every time.

    Oops. I forgot a couple. Netcomics is a great publisher. They do have other releases. Since they specialize in Korean manhwa there are some great boys love titles like Totally Captivated. Netcomics provide their titles both in book form and online. Online they provide Yaoi Press. I've checked out some of the Yaoi Press titles at Netcomics and I think that Yaoi Press has a long way to go. Not in production value, but on story quality.

    With the yaoi publishers out there I know that I have plenty of choices out there. Thanks to June for introducing me to many of my favorite mangaka out there. I look at the publishing quality and licences they hold to choose my reading material.

    Phew! Diatribe complete (for now at least!)


  4. Hi Kris, you look like you've wrote a whole book about Yaoi publishers! Anyways, I really appreciate what you have to say and I'm glad you chose menonyaoi to say it to! You should advertise this intense discussion on other forums/websites.

    When you mention that BLU has matte covers, and colour pages now, it got me thinking that yes, it is a classy publisher, isn't it? They also have a high reputation when it comes to releasing books on time.

    I can see where you're coming from on Be Beautiful's lack of good printing quality and high price, because I was disgusted about it at first. I guess I just started to appreciate the fine licenses they decided to release. I do wish for Embracing Love 6 and Virgin Soil, but there's no hint as to when they're coming out. (EL 6 is listed on BB's website as having been released already, but it's nowhere to be found. Virgin Soil has been removed from the website, but still remains in the ads of our BB books!)

    I haven't taken your opinion of Kitty Media to heart because I basically agree with you about the icky "inky-fingers" quality of their books. You should purchase(if you haven't already) "The Crimson Spell" because it is a good step above their usual crappy quality(plus, it's Ayano Yamane, come on!). Look for the second volume at the end of August, too.

    Yeah, DQ has amazing quality books. It's too bad you became interested in manga so late, because you probably would have been able to find more of their books earlier (early '07 was the best time to find their books since DQ was still printing them). Do you check your local comic shops? They certainly would stock manga now, and some may have discovered Yaoi, too.

    I am also a big fan of Boysenberry since this is the quality of materials BB should be using, and it's $4.00 cheaper! I adored "Pet on Duty" and have been anxiously awaiting "Cigarette Kisses" for a long time (publishers' troubles, again?!) Hell, the English world just needs more Nase Yamato!

    You're right about June. They are a trusted name in Yaoi, and you can't go wrong with the enormous size and easy readability of their books. They do, however, publish way too many titles so that the Japanese publishers think that there's a huge demand for Yaoi in North America, and therefore would charge more for licenses (DQ is also a culprit, they have many unpublished licenses, see's list).

    I have a love-hate relationship with 801, but I usually manage to snap up their books anyways, even if I don't read them later. I find their books quite stiff, and so I knock off some points for that.

    I prefer Deux's simple quality, although I don't find myself snatching up their books like I do for other companies. If ever I had a ton of money, I would go on a Deux and June shopping spree! And that's great that they confirmed those titles for you.

    I'm glad you talked about Netcomics, because I want to try to get into their famous titles like "Let Dai" and "Totally Captivated". Manhwa seems like a great avenue for someone who's a little bored of traditional Yaoi plots. Plus, volumes of "Let Dai" were released consecutively in two months from eachother?! That's insane!

    Oh yeah, Yaoi Press is setting a bad example to those who want to be successful BL authors. Although, their artists do actually draw way more penises and sex scenes than most original Japanese Yaoi.

    Well, thank-you for reading this far in the message. I hope we can continue to write more "books" about Yaoi :) You're always welcome to post your thoughts here!!