Why is BookWalker offering titles exclusively, and why have they chosen the titles to license so far? Their VP of Business Development answers that and more.

The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress BookWalker Global's The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress
A few months ago BookWalker announced they would be releasing their first light novel exclusively for their digital bookstore.

…For the first six months.

So naturally this led to a bit of confusion and questions from those about The Combat Baker and his Automaton Waitress release. I reached out to BookWalker to see if we could get some answers. Norihide Tominaga, the VP of Business Development at BookWalker Global, was able to shed some light on what they’re planning to do.

Note: The interview questions were sent in April, so a few details (for example, BookWalker has announced their second exclusive light novel) are a bit dated.

Questions are in bold.

TheOASG: One of the things that stands out is The Combat Baker and his Automaton Waitress being a six-month exclusive release. What does that actually mean? For example, it will be made available in June only on BookWalker and then after the purchasing period has ended, that will be all? Will it then be made available elsewhere?

Norihide Tominaga: This means that the title will be available first on BookWalker for the first 6 months before any other retailer. After 6 months, it will still be available on BookWalker. This will be the case for every volume that gets released. It is also up to the publisher, Hobby Japan, to decide whether or not to offer the eBook on other platforms.

What went behind the decision to make upcoming LNs exclusive?

While carrying as many titles as possible is important to us, exclusive content in any form is important to differentiate ourselves from other platforms. We already have exclusive bonus material such as illustrations, giveaways, and digital bookshelf skins, so it only made sense to get exclusive titles too.

Is there a chance that if it sells well that the title can be extended?

If this series sells well, it would help us continue the project and even pick up more titles.

The second thing that stood out was the explanation of translation and who it belongs to. Quite frankly, that’s pretty interesting. So does this mean that while BookWalker will be paying for the translation costs, HobbyJapan will have the English rights to the translation? If so, they would be able to do what they want with it after the exclusive window is closed, or something entirely different?

Correct.  They can sell the book to other retailers if they want.  We hope more readers can read more light novels worldwide.

Can BookWalker confirm if upcoming LNs that are announced will receive the same window of release or will it vary on the title? Like for example, one LN will have an eight-month window while another could have a two-month window?

The release windows will vary depending on the title. We’ve just started, so we haven’t created a pattern yet. Hopefully, we can push out volumes every 2-3 months.

Has the recent success of LNs in the West drove the decision to bring these titles over, or, as was mentioned in the PR, this was one way to potentially give smaller publishers an extra boost?

Both.

Will there be a few more LN announcements before Anime Expo, or will the rest be mentioned at the convention?

Yes, we just announced “The Ryuo’s Work is Never Done!“(working title).

Was there any reason The Combat Baker and The Automaton Waitress was the first title that BookWalker chose to license and make available worldwide?

There were many reasons that we took into consideration when we selected this title and Ryuo. For example, both titles have been selling exceptionally well on our Japanese store and The Combat Baker and Automaton Waitress was recognized as one of the top rising light novels in Japan. It ranked #6 on the New Works list in the 2016 edition of Kono Light Novel Ga Sugoi. Also, inside BookWalker, we have some staff with “Otaku Sixth Sense” who get together each month and predict which titles have potential to get an animated series and so on.

Is BookWalker just releasing Volume 1 of the series, or will there be additional volumes?

We’re planning to release all the volumes. Volume 2 of Combat Baker should be coming out this fall!

So the description immediately makes me think this is a slice-of-life food fantasy LN. Will this work manage to focus on the bread, the mysterious nature of the girl, or basically all of that spread across multiple volumes?

Despite having the word bakery in the title, it’s more slice-of-life plus action. The story balances the slice-of-life and action parts pretty well in the first volume as the beginning still seems to be quite “peaceful” with the second half being more action oriented. This balance is also shown with the metaphor of Lud being an ex-soldier which is linked to death and his current occupation which is linked to life. The series will continue to further build on these two concepts and of course the struggles of after-war life.