“How many pages long is the average light novel?”
A friend of mine flat-out stumped me with this question a few days ago, and I’m willing to bet even odds it stumped you too. Neat, right? People familiar with anime likely have at least some vague inkling about what light novels are. But anime-focused writers who offer sweeping takes on light novels often don’t have the answers to those sorts of basic trivia questions, and I’ve forced a few acquaintances to google over this in the past week.
Granted, this particular question is sort of misleading; wordcounts are more accurate quantifiers of length than pagecounts, since the latter depend on size and typeface. Still, it underscores how little people can know about something which plays such a big role in the anime industry. Too, the question is also ridiculously basic to answer; I only had to spend about an hour on amazon compiling a list of links to the first volumes of novels adapted into anime in 2013 (excluding sequels), and taking down their given pagecounts. And while I was at it, I did the same for manga. The data, source links included, can be found here, and is summarized below. Note that Uchouten Kazoku, a single-volume novel, was counted as a novel along with the other multi-volume series.
The average volume 1 of a novel adapted into anime in 2013 was 302±45 pages. Most volume 1s fell within this range. There were a few exceptions; Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (361pg) and Uchouten Kazoku (423pg) were significantly longer than the norm, while Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi (253pg), GJ-bu (232pg), and Brothers Conflict (195pg) were significantly shorter.
Novel volumes are almost always a bit thicker than their manga counterparts, where the distribution of pagecounts is trimodal beast:
The longest and shortest first volumes of manga adapted in 2013 were Aku no Hana (208pg) and C3-bu (109pg). In general, it seems like the shorter-volume manga were more likely to be 4-koma (Love Lab, Puchimas) or short-chapter (Non Non Biyori, Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku) series. The middle group, with pagecounts between 160 and 180, seem to contain mostly niche material (albeit some decently long-running ones), while the longer group, with pagecounts 190 and above, seem to contain the more mainstream series.
At this point, I don’t really know if this information amounts to more than the answer to a trivia question. But there’s never any harm in gathering more data and examining something from a new perspective.