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Haikasoru holiday shopping guide!

by nickmamatas

Well, the holidays are here and it’s time for a little shopping. Books are a great present—they’re relatively inexpensive, they’re personal insofar as your choice reflects your knowledge of the friend or relative you are buying for, and they last for years. Hell, some books last for centuries.

What’s interesting as an editor is seeing the kind of people who end up liking this or that book. When we first present a book to the sales staff—who in turn present the book to the buyers for chains and independent bookstores and whatnot, who in turn sell the books to you one at a time—we have to come up with a few descriptors of the audience for our titles. We can’t just say “People who like to read” or anything like that. Actually, the best kind of book, saleswise, is one for people who don’t like to read, as there are many more folks like that than there are dedicated readers. A bestseller is, almost by definition, a book purchased by those who don’t normally purchase books.

Anyway, sometimes my guesses as to an audience have been right, and sometimes I’ve been surprised. So here are some holiday tips for you, based on who actually ended up liking our books. Please note that I don’t mean to imply that the groups I thought would like our books and the groups who actually did are mutually exclusive, I’m just talking about tendencies based on reviews, personal conversations, the mailbag here at Haikasoru headquarters, and online chatter. I’m also very happy with who finally embraced the books; I love seeing wide audiences for the titles and champions for them outside of the usual circles. So here is our 2010 list—read on to find out which would make the best gifts for your loved ones!


Yukikaze
Who I Thought Would Like It: Military SF fans, anime fans.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Got it in one! If you put a plane on the cover, they will come.


The Stories of Ibis

Who I Thought Would Like It: People interested in complex literary fiction—readers of Borges and David Foster Wallace.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Fans of golden age science fiction. They really appreciated Yamamoto’s storytelling dexterity, his ability to write SF in any mode, and his immense knowledge of both Western and Asian SF. They didn’t even mind the linked-stories structure, as such “fix-up novels” were once fairly common in science fiction.


Loups-Garous

Who I Thought Would Like it: Teen girls.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Twentysomething men, especially if they’re a little, you know, “weird.” Kyogoku’s novel was pretty ambitious in its structure and pacing. A number of people mentioned its similarities to visionary novels as opposed to genre novels. My fave was from a amazon.com reader review: “Loups-Garous is much closer to Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf than Universal Studio’s Werewolf.”


Slum Online

Who I Thought Would Like it: Young men.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Men approaching middle age. I guess we’ve had a generation or two of people who grew up on video games, and it’s the dudes in their thirties who really took to this story of a wayward college kid and a virtual martial arts tournament.


The Next Continent

Who I Thought Would Like it: Fans of hard SF.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: I got this one right! The challenge is just in getting fans of hard SF to pick up this book in the first place, but once they have I’ve received nothing but raves. So if anyone on your shopping list loves science and technology and astronomy and engineering, this is the one!


Harmony

Who I Thought Would Like it: SF fans who like the work of Ballard, Philip K. Dick, and others of that ilk.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Young women. Not that young women don’t like Ballard or PKD! But I was pleasantly surprised at the number of young women who enjoyed this book—of course, it centers, in a way, on the friendships between women, their role in society, and the politics of who owns one’s body, so I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Shame on me! (Ballard and Dick fans did like this one a lot as well.)


Rocket Girls

Who I Thought Would Like it: Teen girls and anime fans.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Middle-aged men. Not for gross reasons! Again, this book really tapped into the scientific and adventurous spirit of classic science fiction, and honestly there isn’t a lot of that on the shelves these days. At the World Fantasy Convention, I met an older fellow who had already bought two copies of the book to give away to young people, and who used the anime of the novel series as a teaching aid in the science classes he runs. Very exciting!


Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse

Who I Thought Would Like it: Horror fans.
Who Actually Liked it the Most: Mystery/thriller fans. I’m still surprised! Of course, there is plenty of mystery in Otsuichi’s work, but the supernatural antics and the literary tricks he uses often annoy mystery readers when presented in English-language original novels. These readers want to match wits with the sleuths and the writer to guess the ending before it is revealed. I guess Otsuichi’s powerful voice, which does “sound” more like a mystery voice than a horror voice in some ways, was sufficiently compelling for them to really get a kick out of this one.

Of course, we have two NEW books as well—the hard SF The Ouroboros Wave and the fantasy Dragon Sword and Wind Child, but it’s too soon to tell who’ll really take to these books. Why not buy them for yourself or your friends and once again prove me wrong!

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10 Responses to “Haikasoru holiday shopping guide!”

  1. [...] See the original post here: Hikasoru holiday shopping guide! « Haikasoru: Space Opera. Dark … [...]

  2. [...] Shopping? Check out these book shopping guides from Haikasoru, Booktopia, The Nile, Arcade Publications, and Black Dog [...]

  3. Vanessa says:

    After passing Harmony up once at the bookstore, I kept thinking about it and turned around a couple of days later to buy it. Glad I did; I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, and it made me check out a few more books on the site that I plan on buying for myself (although maybe I’ll let some family members borrow them as a sign of holiday spirit).

    A quick question, though: are there any plans to put ebooks on the Nook? I see a couple are available through the Kindle but it’s a little disappointing that I can’t put them on my device.

  4. nickmamatas says:

    Yes, Nook is coming. Can’t quite say when, but we plan on hitting all the major reader formats. Hang on tight!

  5. cameron pierce says:

    I will read Harmony soon, and maybe The Stories of Ibis. That one sounds good too.

  6. Ross says:

    Well, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only middle-aged man who loves ROCKET GIRLS. This book is a stirring tribute to the great dream of space flight; it really moves me. It’s also great fun. By the way, maybe you can post information on the audiences for your earlier (pre-2010) titles. Thanks for all your great work at Haikasoru.

  7. Masumi says:

    As Ross says, I’d like to read your book guide for pre-2010 Haikasoru titles.

  8. [...] from Japan. For a quick rundown of their titles from the past two years, Nick Mamatas gives us the Haikasoru Shopping Guide (click here for last year’s [...]

  9. toast says:

    Question! About Rocket Girls – afaik, it’s a light novel series…but since it’s being published under the Haikasoru line, does it still include the illustrations?

    I’m getting it either way though, since it and the anime have been on my to-read/to-watch list for awhile. That, and I really like the cover :)

  10. nickmamatas says:

    Sorry I missed this question before—it was stuck in our spam trap. No, our novels generally don’t include the illustrations available in the Japanese editions. We try to make for it a bit with awesome original cover art!


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