Originally I was going to throw in a novel in here, but I’m so engrossed in something I’m not going to review (for now, at least) that I simply gave up, because I kept procrastinating and days before the review I was trying to read the light novel. That review will be up at a later date.
However, I realised I still had something I could review and get it done quickly! Considering my recent health issues, no stress is my highest priority and if I rather want to drown myself in something I won’t review (for now), this works out great!
J-Novel Club is a subscription service with mainly novels, but they also have comics. They publish in parts which one can read and then publish the full book on Amazon. The lowest cost is 4.95US/month or 54 USD/year, but the more than double prices gives you some bonuses.
As you can read above, they release something every week and the authors and translators are supported.
Their catalogue is fairly big with some really awesome titles (and some really not awesome). They also have some titles which one can read through them to catch up, as aside from the first part of volumes, you can only read the latest translated parts of a series before the volume is published (as far as I know).
They have a website reader and an app.
I think that sums up the service as a whole. Let’s look at my thoughts and experience.
First off, the online reader is kinda clumsy. If you’re reading, say, part 3 in volume 7, you might not actually remember where you were if you close the tab. You’d have to check each part individually. This is a problem if you, for instance, are catching up on something, or don’t read the parts right after they’re up.
The app… useless. I have an android phone and while it could scroll to the last place in a part you read, the loading times were ridiculous. It was honestly a chore trying to read on the app, so I quickly gave up that idea. The lack of dark mode was also really annoying.
The site also lacks a dark mode for the actual parts, but you can dim the background and just have a blinding rectangle in the middle. I mean… I guess it works, but it’s still pretty useless, since you still have that square glaring. In fact, it was honestly more tiring on my eyes than pure white.
So the readers suck.
What about the translations? The quality is varying. We got the translation of In Another World With My Smartphone, which was really bad, but How the Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom (which I have bought and hence not read on JNC) has a really good one.
The site is pretty easy to use as there aren’t a whole lot of functions to figure out, but the search function requires you to write words in the exact order. So if you, for instance, remember Other World Magic, but not The Magic in This Other World is Too Far Behind!, you’re out of luck. There is also no way to save titles you plan to read in a list, so you need to remember what you’re reading. Talk about a pain in the behind if you read several series! And let’s not mention that there is only a handful of titles per page and refining searches doesn’t really work.
While the site is easy to use, it’s far from user-friendly. We got the issue with the search function, as mentioned, but you have to go through page after page after page if you’re looking for something. The tags also vary, so some are tagged isekai while others are tagged other world (or some such). Not that the tags seem to have much functionality except tell you if there’s an OP character, it’s isekai, shoujo (ie, the main audience is girls), and so on. You can’t click them or anything to get a list of other titles which could be similar!
As much as I hate to say it, the idea is great. But the overall functionality and availability is pretty crap. While this is certainly something I’ll return to in circulation with FFXIV and other subs, I will only pay for it if I there are a catchup title I’m really interested in. The cost for a month of a fair amount of novels isn’t bad at all, though I think the over doubled price tag for the premium membership is kinda hefty.
It’s not recommended as a service in its current state, but the idea’s great. The execution just needs an overhaul.
What would you like to see a review of next? Let me know in a comment!
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