The Sun Finally Sets on Sol Press

The Sun Finally Sets on Sol Press

The Sun Finally Sets on Sol Press

With the rising popularity of anime and manga over the past few years, more companies have been trying to throw their hat into the ring. Many of these, especially for manga and light novels, are small or independent publishers like Star Fruit Books and Kaiten Books. But it’s a company who released not only manga and light novels but visual novels that is today’s focus.

The History of Sol Press

Sol Press started in February 2017 with an eye on visual novels but also had plans to translate and release manga and light novels as well.

Sol Press’ first project was a successful Kickstarter for the adult visual novel (eroge) Sakura Sakura. More romance game releases followed, and in April 2018, Sol Press acquired its first two light novels (Battle Divas — The Incorruptible Battle Blossom Princess and Strongest Gamer — Let’s Play in Another World). Later that year in November, Harem Royale – When the Game Ends- and Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for my Retirement became the company’s first manga licenses.

Sol Press’ eBooks were originally only available on Amazon and Google. In April 2019, they announced their light novels and manga, which up to that point had only been available digitally, would be getting physical copies. Digital distribution also expanded that year when they partnered with BOOK☆WALKER in May 2019 and FAKKU in July.

Back in October 2018, Sol Press revealed Project Hyourin. Project Hyourin would allow Sol Press and other companies to post their digital manga, light novels, and games. Sol Press provided limited information after that, with the CEO saying it was “being redesigned” in March 2019, but while Sol Press opened its own store in July 2019, Project Hyourin faded.

That same month, Sol Press revealed its Panty Press imprint to release hentai light novels.

Their games would also be available on Denpasoft.

The Slowdown and The End

By 2020, questions and complaints about slow releases started piling up even as new titles were being acquired.

In May 2020, Sol Press revealed they were going to concentrate on books and stop licensing games.

In 2021, Sol Press continued to publish monthly status reports about the state of their titles, and their social media accounts like Twitter were active.

However, their website went down in the beginning of August, and Sol Press promised on August 11th it would be up soon.

They posted a brief version of their monthly report on Twitter that same day.

After that, radio silence on Twitter, although reports say Discord still had some activity including staff saying they weren’t shutting down.

Around the end of October, it was discovered their business license was suspended due to some sort of tax-related issue(s).

Anyone hoping for some sort of miraculous comeback had that door shut when on February 19, 2022, BOOK☆WALKER announced they were pulling Sol Press titles and told Anime News Network, “These takedowns are taking place as requested by the original Japanese publishers. Users should rest assured that this in no way affects other books in our store.” These were the titles affected:

  • Busy Wizard: This Warlock Just Wants to Provide for his Wives!
  • Chivalry of a Failed Knight
  • The Game Master has Logged In to Another World
  • Harem Royale – When the Game Ends
  • I Surrendered My Sword for a New Life as a Mage
  • Is the order a rabbit?
  • Let This Grieving Soul Retire! Woe is the Weakling Who Leads the Strongest Party
  • Redefining the META at VRMMO Academy
  • The Ride-On King
  • Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for my Retirement (manga and light novel)
  • Why Shouldn’t a Detestable Demon Lord Fall in Love?!

As of this writing, titles can still be found on other outlets. Games also continue to be available on certain stores. However, it’s probable all Sol Press releases on all platforms/services will be pulled any day now.

What Happened?

The Japanese publishers seizing the licenses back wasn’t a surprise since Sol Press had been mostly absent for months. But even before that and going back as far as 2019, employees were complaining about lack of payment and poor working conditions, and negativity grew as Sol Press began to disappear from social media and reportedly skipped out on fulfilling their contracts.

Now, is it possible that these are all just disgruntled employees with an axe to grind? Yes, certainly. But even setting aside those testimonies, it isn’t hard to see what possibly happened at Sol Press. Even from my abridged summary, you can see a lot happened in 2019. And we all know what started happening at the end of that year and was in full bloom by Spring 2020. Almost every business faced setbacks, whether it was from being forced to close due to lockdowns, the struggle to acquire goods, or adapting to new habits. Even as life is approaching normalcy, companies still face large obstacles. In publishing fields, the turnaround time is almost unheard of with backed-up printing presses and slow-moving transportation. And that’s not factoring in the increased demand for books, especially manga and light novels! If companies like VIZ Media are expressing difficulty in getting new releases and reprints out, you can only imagine the trouble a small publisher would face. So it’s likely a lot of Sol Press’ downfall is due to bad timing.

That being said, it’s also easy to guess they overextended themselves and/or were led by people with grandiose dreams. I mean, a new digital distribution service? Sure, others have gotten their start in the past few years even as platforms like Steam and Amazon Kindle dominate, but something like that is not made to be a side project. I can sympathize with Sol Press wanting to be able to deliver uncensored content easily, but a shop is definitely easier. Even then, not all titles were available on Sol Press’ store right away.

What Now?

Regardless of how you feel about Sol Press as a company, they certainly picked up some popular titles — isekai stories, cute girls, releases that had anime adaptations. They weren’t picking up unknown series or web tales like a lot of other small publishers dedicate themselves too, and I’m sure some of the licenses weren’t cheap as a result.

As I mentioned, Sol Press’ games and books are still available at major retailers, but at least one translator and former employee urged people not to buy them since the Japanese creators would not get any financial benefits.

I know how frustrating it is to start a series and then see it dropped, and I bet eventually some of these books will be rescued by another publisher. Some of the games though are less likely to be getting a re-release than the light novels or manga Sol Press had released. Sol Press had a several in-progress games, and hopefully they were honest about how far along they were so that another developer can buy the rights and release them without too much time and financial investment.

But to get to that point will likely require time. The State of California wants taxes, and it seems like Japanese publishers weren’t getting their fees. Freelancers may be missing paychecks, and those who purchased from Sol Press’ store were charged at the time of the order but have never received merchandise.

For those in the latter category, PayPal allows customers 180 days to file a claim, so if you’ve ordered in the last six months, it should be easy to get a refund. Beyond that, try a chargeback on your credit card. Some banks may limit claims to those within the past year, but it may be worth a try if it’s been beyond that. Some people have reported using Sol Press’ Discord server to get a refund, but I doubt that still works.

If you supported one of their crowdfunding funds, well, again, you can try to get your money back, but the terms of use say that nothing is guaranteed.

For employees missing paychecks, they’re probably going to need legal assistance to try to get back wages and perhaps submitting complaints to labor boards California (where Sol Press operated from) or Delaware (where Sol Press originally registered). Sol Press’ CEO’s Twitter has been inactive since May 2021, and since Sol Press has been inactive since at least August, I’m sure it’s going to be quite a headache for all these entities to comb through their financial statements. My sympathies to them.

Yes, it’s sad for any company to go under and leave light novels and manga unfinished, but that’s nothing compared to the fact people may be out money. Whatever happened, whether Sol Press overextended themselves as they tried to become a bigger player in the industry or turned into a scam operation, best wishes for all those who have invested time and money in this company that didn’t display any final decency toward its contractors, employees, and fans.

Were you a Sol Press fan? Are you out any money from their closure? What titles do you hope will be rescued?

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