I found this site off twitter and I am like, what. [Unrelated to top image/link]
Light novels are inherently long-winded stories. They’re 300 pages stories with a lot of fluff, mainly character thoughts or just plain descriptions. Most of the time, they go overboard with those. It’s one of the main cons of reading a light novel. After all, if the author can’t fill those 300 pages with enough quality-writing (and you can be assured that most the time, they can’t), reading them becomes tedious.
Novellas kept their descriptions to the bare minimum and allowed much more creativity, even if some recurring quirks from light novels were still present. However, it isn’t as apparent because of the aforementioned problems that can be addressed thanks to the smaller, tighter grasp on the story development.
Wikipedia has a slightly less of a hack definition, for your comparison.
They have an “introduction to light novel” section on the site, and at least it doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out.
If these guys owns englishlightnovels.com, this genre is doomed.
I also just want to say one thing: you cannot confuse the word count in Japanese versus English. Just like how 140 characters is a lot in Japanese versus in English in terms of meaning density, a lot of light novels in Japan are in the 100-200 page range as oppose to the ~300 page range as they are translated. And this is to note that given their smaller form factor, they have fewer words per page than “proper” books in Japanese. For the US-published works, at least, they read and feel like most non-light novels, maybe just shorter. English-language novellas are sometimes this long but usually 2/3 of the length as well. This is also why Wikipedia uses word count, like a pro.
More importantly, translating a novel from Japanese to English is basically rewriting the novel. The meaning of the story may be the same but it reads entirely differently, at a different length. This has to be accounted for.
PS. Faust is good fun, go read that.