Third Editions is a book publisher that has a variety of releases based on many popular gaming franchises. We’ve taken a look at some of their releases here on The Koalition, including our unboxing and impressions of their Metal Gear Solid book. But now the company is releasing a new book based on the popular Disney and Square Enix crossover series, Kingdom Hearts. The book titled “The Legend of Kingdom Hearts“, and is planned as volume one of a multi-volume series based on the popular franchise.
We were able to get in touch with Third Editions for an exclusive interview about the upcoming book. We touched on the Kickstarter campaign that started the project, what they hope for the book’s release, and so much more. Check out the full written interview below! (Interview edited for consistency and readability)
JJ: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about the upcoming book. With The Legend of Kingdom Hearts being incredibly topical now, it’s great to see you guys making a book about it. Was making the KH book planned for a while?
Third Éditions: Thanks to you! In fact, the book has been published in France last year (in July 2018), but we’re translating it to English for other territories. We love the Kingdom Hearts series, and we’ve been planning to make a book about it since the creation of Third Éditions in 2015. The imminent release of Kingdom Hearts III was a good opportunity to finally make that happen.
JJ: For the upcoming Kingdom Hearts book, its titled Volume 1: Creation. Was it decided early on to have multiple volumes based on the series? Do you guys have a set number of volumes you want to have for Kingdom Hearts?
Third Éditions: Initially, we planned to make two volumes: one about the entire series except for KH3, and one about KH3 only. The first volume in its original plan was going to follow our usual editorial line, which can be summed up by three concepts. Creation (development), Universe (lore, themes), and Decryption (in-depth analysis of the game design, the aesthetic, the music, the legacy and so on). But our author Georges “Jay” Grouard had so much to say that we had to divide the book in two volumes: Volume 1 Creation, and Volume 2 Universe & Decryption. Reunited, the two volumes reached 1000 pages. It’s our biggest book!
So there will be three volumes eventually: Volume 1 (making-of of the entire series except for KH3), Volume 2 (lore and symbolic significance of the entire series except for KH3) and Volume 3 (creation/universe/decryption of KH3). The first two have already been released in French, and the Volume 3 will be published later. For now we’re translating Volume 1 into English (thanks to the Kickstarter campaign!). It’ll be published in December 2019. Volume 2 will be translated too eventually, but we don’t know exactly when yet.
JJ: The book’s Kickstarter campaign was immensely successful. Did you guys expect to get the response you ended up receiving? Were there any worries or things that came up about the campaign reaching its goals?
Third Éditions: There’s always many worries (and cold sweat) when we launch a new Kickstarter campaign. But to be honest, we’re weren’t expecting to fail this one. We already had two successful Kickstarter campaigns that allowed us to translate a dozen of books into English. So this time the campaign was solely dedicated to one book, and Kingdom Hearts is a famous series with a lot of fans and a big community. We knew we weren’t taking risk but hadn’t expected the campaign to reach its goal in one day. That was a big relief. We thank all our backers for that!
JJ: For those who might not know, what is the thought process you have when deciding on what type of books to publish at Third Editions? Does it take time to get things started before deciding on which direction to go?
Third Éditions: It depends of the book. Most of the time it’s based on our own wishes, our desire to talk about some series or games we love. So we do some research to find the best suited journalist/author and we talk with them about the plan and their own vision of the games. Usually, from the early stages of the project to the actual release, it takes about a year.
JJ: Why do some game series or franchises possible not get books about them? Have there been any games you wanted to tackle, but just weren’t able to?
Third Éditions: We’ve been able to make books about almost all our favorite series (in France, we’ve published fifty books already!), but of course there are some series that are not appealing enough to interest more than 200 or 300 people. It would be a waste of time and money for us, and even more so for our authors, to spend one year working on a book and not get the recognition they deserve. But nonetheless, we try to deal with some lesser known series. Our goal is also to push readers to read things they’re not especially attracted to in the first place. They can learn new things and expand their vision of the artistic medium.
There’s also another difficult thing we sometimes deal with… it’s hard to find the right author! For example, we truly wish to publish books about the Xeno series (XenoGears, XenoSaga, and XenoBlade Chronicles), but it’s not easy finding someone with the level of knowledge necessary to deal with the complex sci-fi background. We need someone who can talk freely about Nietzsche, Jung and the Gnosticism; while also having the necessary JRPG experience to talk about the development of those games. Including their overall design and/or music. If our books can’t expand the readers’ mind or deliver new perspectives (about the development of a series, its influences, the game design, themes and so on), then there’s no point in making that book!
JJ: For The Legend of Kingdom Hearts, was it difficult to gather information or reach out to specific individuals that were important for getting the full story about the series?
Third Éditions: It’s almost always difficult to gather information from Japanese developers, either because they’re hard to reach or because when they talk they don’t have the rights to speak about important details (even years after the release of a game). Culturally, they are also often reticent to speak freely about their influences, their design, especially to foreigners (there’s always the fear of the “lost in translation” process, which happen often when dealing with Japanese people because their language is full of nuances). So they tend to let their work talk for itself.
But in the case of The Legend of Kingdom Hearts, Georges Grouard did a lot of research. He gathered hundreds of interviews from various sources. And more importantly during his career as a journalist, he’s been able to meet and interview several Square members, including Tetsuya Nomura. In France, Jay has earned himself a reputation for his brazenly excessive love of RPGs. In 2000, he was the founder of Gameplay RPG, the first magazine in the world to be entirely devoted to the genre. At the time of the release of the first Kingdom Hearts, he published a 20-page long review in the magazine to show its love and appreciation of the game. So, let’s say that he knows his subject!
JJ: When the book finally releases, what’s your biggest hope for everyone that picks it up? Anything that you’re hoping readers will take out of what you’ve put together in it?
Third Éditions: It’s massive book, deep and playful, full of insights and trivia about the Kingdom Hearts series. We hope that our readers will learn a few things. Obviously our goal is that anyone who reads it, no matter what they think about Kingdom Hearts in the first place, they’ll realize “Damn, Kingdom Hearts truly is a miraculous series!”. And of course we hope they’ll be curious to read the Volume 2 afterwards, because we assure you what Georges Grouard did with the Volume 2 nobody done before!
JJ: Thanks for chatting with us about the book! We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing more from you guys about it soon!
Third Éditions: Thank you for the interview, we hope you’ll enjoy the book!
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