The All New Yet All The Same Yet All Different Izneo.com
Izneo shut down their English language storefront at the end of January. They promised to fold their English language titles into their remaining French language store as part of its own category.
It’s been a month. The move has been made. One big thing has been fixed, but one big thing is broken. Also, I did a little digging and think the whole thing might have been fixed programmatically rather than by shutting down the stores.
Let’s take a look around and I’ll show you.
The New (Old) French Storefront
This is the Izneo.com home page. It is, as you may have quickly noticed, all in French, though the layout and options are generally the same as the English language store you might remember. This is normal. The other versions of the store were always photocopies of the main French store to start with. The English site did try a few things with extra editorial content (full transparency: I wrote a couple of things for them) and had to handle some sales differently, but it’s all built on the same basic template.
If you’re looking for the English language titles, you want to go to the “Catalogue” dropdown on the left side of the header. There, you’ll find a new addition at the bottom with “Catalogue in English,” complete with a British flag next to it. (If you’re logged in, you’ll also see a “Promos” option, but that’s for French titles.)
This is where things start to feel a little weird. It’s a section of a larger store meant for English language books only, but everything aside from the titles and descriptions is in French.
Honestly, this doesn’t bother me too much, but I’m a special flower. I’ve always looked at Izneo’s French language page. It’s the only way to get to issues of “Spirou Journal,” after all. So I’m used to all the words and phrases on the buttons and menus.
“Voir Tout” is “See All” and “Je Me Connect” is “Log In.” “Catalogue en Anglais” is exactly what it looks like it is — Catalogue in English. “Ajouter au Panier” means “Add to Cart.” I learned “ajouter” in DuoLingo from countless sentences about adding salt to a recipe.
“Decouvrir” is “Discover,” so you click that button to go into the catalog page for that volume. When you do that, you see a sea of French words surrounding the English description of the book. Even the “Read More” link at the end of the English language paragraph is written in French (“En lire plus”).
There’s also that weird (to an American) thing where the number appears before the dollar sign. I looked at a couple of French online stores, and that’s just the way they format their prices in France with the Euro symbol. It’s always the number and then the sign.
I’m not sure why I’m seeing a dollar sign on a French store, though. Maybe it’s looking up my country of origin from my IP address? I’m not logged on and I’m seeing the dollar sign. Same thing happens in incognito mode. I see it happening with French language titles as well as English language ones, so it’s not dependent on the book you’re looking at.
If you click the play button on the cover, you go to the digital reader to read the first 10 pages of the book.
The digital comics reader is technically in French, but everything is icons and buttons, with the exception of the progress checker in the upper left corner that tells you how far into the book you are. In this case, “Lu a 45%” means I’ve read 45% of the preview at this point. (“Lu” is the past tense of “Lire”, meaning “to read.” Again, thanks, DuoLingo!)
If you go back out to the main English Catalogue page, you’ll see they have selections of suggested books under various categories. First and foremost is the new books (“Nouveautés”), followed by categories like Biographies, Action/Adventure, Social Chronicles, Science Fiction, Fantasy, etc.
It’s a good enough storefront to dip your toes into and look around.
There’s one thing this new set-up completely fixes that I didn’t like about the separate English language storefront. The “New” section is now limited to translated titles. Previously, releases from American publishers would often crowd out the translated Franco-Belgian titles. Now, the “New” listing might not change as often, but it is far more useful for someone like me who just wants the translated books.
The Problems With Search
However, there is a big catch. I wanted to find Jose-Luis Munuera’s “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story” to grab the link to the book for my review.
There isn’t a separate search function for English language books that I found. The main search bar at the top of every page covers everything in the Izneo catalogue. Fair enough.
However, it doesn’t find the title I’m looking for at all despite being given the entire title, word for word. If I put Jose Luis Munuera’s name in front of the search, it returns the French version of the book, “Un Chant de Noël.”
It also returns at least one 18+ title he had nothing to do with. Variations on the search at one point led me to a series of 18+ books drawn by Juan Jose Ryp, who has done lots of English language comics, often featuring women in skimpy clothes. (“Clone” was an exception to that, and my favorite of his comics.)
I did some more testing. It’s extremely difficult (putting it mildly) to search for English language titles by their names. I tried “Wanted Lucky Luke” and could only get the French edition. I tried “Ladies With Guns,” whose second volume is newly available in English. Again, only the French editions are returned.
I picked a title that had been translated — “The Great Outdoors” by Catherine Meurisse — and Izneo couldn’t find it. It did, though, return a lot of American superhero titles that had been translated to French.
Searching on the book’s original French title, “Les Grands Espaces,” brings it up immediately.
I wonder if the Europe Comics/Cinebook titles just haven’t been added to the search index yet? Does search automatically look at the American comics that have been translated to French as the intended results when a user searches with an English word? I saw a lot of DC and Image comics that way.
I get it; the vast majority of the audience for Izneo is not looking for the English book. And how can Izneo tell when a reader is searching for the English edition? Should the search bar at the top of the screen only return English language books when it’s at the top of a page from the English Catalog page or a page from a book that’s an English language book?
The Search functionality doesn’t have any options available to help whittle down the search. Maybe a side column with checkboxes to filter down to English language titles only, or books from a specific catalog (like Manga or BD or Roman Graphique)? (Think about the way Amazon or eBay offers those filters along a left column.)
As things stand right now, the best way to find an English title is to search on “Cinebook” or “Europe Comics,” scroll down to the list of “Éditeurs,” and select the publisher’s name to see their entire catalogue. Their catalogues are sorted by default in release order, with the most recent books at the top of the results. (Cinebook specializes in long-running series, so there’s only 5 pages of results. Europe Comics has 29 pages’ worth.)
Here are the links directly to the publishers for you:
On a Completely Selfish Note
I don’t have to switch stores from English to French to read Spirou Journal anymore. I can just search for it and it comes right up.
The problem is, that also sends me back into a deeper world of untranslated French comics that I’m not fluent enough to read (yet).
You take the good, you take the bad…
(It also just dawns on me that the American way to spell the word is “catalog” and I’ve been running with the British version, like the Izneo website, this whole time. Ah, well…)
Super Tech Geek Sidebar
Curiously enough, going to Izneo.com still redirects to Izneo.com/fr. As you might have expected, going to Izneo.com/en sends you to Izneo.com/fr, as well.
Thankfully, all my links on this site pointing to the books on sale at Izneo are automatically redirecting from the /en of the English storefront right to the /fr of the French. So far, so good.
When I look at the source code for Izneo.com, it appears the site is programmed in Nuxt, the Vue framework that handles static site generation. If so, there are packages available to help handle internationalization.
It would be possible programmatically to replace the text in all the navigation with the proper English text if a user expresses that desire. There’s no need for an entire separate store with its own layout or editorial content.
It would take a bit of work, sure, but it’s possible. Once you nail down the process for one language, it becomes simpler to add multiple languages, if you so desire.
There might be some licensing issues at play here, though, that would preclude that. I don’t know.
This article is starting to sound like a list of feature requests. My apologies to the Izneo programming team.
The two publishers who are responsible for 98% of the English titles in Izneo’s catalog have been integrated into the main French store, as promised. The books are all still there, and having a separate catalogue for them is a good thing. The “New” listings problem of the old English language storefront is fixed. The French phrases and directions surrounding the books don’t bother me so much, but could theoretically be changed with a programming effort.
The problem is that the search is useless at the moment, but at least there’s a workaround. I’m mildly hopeful that they might be able to fix it – or at least give the English titles a chance.
Yes, it’s far easier to get your books from Comixology at the moment, but who knows how much longer that service has to live?
Yes, in “proper” English, catalog is catalogue, just like check is cheque, etc… Took me a while to navigate that when I started working international projects, when English is the most common language, which expressions and turns of phrases should I use for which audience, was a head-scratcher for a while, and I still need a second to adjust when spellcheckers want me to write canceled instead of cancelled…
Interesting though that this site would default to Brit English, considering that most of the English material, therefore the audience, is north American.
the trick to switch /fr/ to /en/ in the url sometimes works, when developers have a bit of consistency in the design of the sites, which is not always the case.
Now, do you think this is a temporary situation and that things will stabilize, or that this is the new normal ? I find it odd that there wouldn’t be a simple language filter up there like on Amazon or eBay, should be a no-brainer.
Could this be a game changer ? It vows to be global, so…
fyi I got this “Nonce” error message when I put my gravatar link in the Website field.
When I don’t, the comment apprear properly.
Not sure what this is about.
Maybe someone doesn’t like my face 🙁