Wednesday, August 31, 2005

[Blog Entry] 3 Tips to Homophobic Anime/Manga Fans, Early Birthday Present, The Fully Booked Experience, SF&F Masterwork Series

3 Tips to Homophobic Anime/Manga Fans

1) Beware of angels. Dispel your beliefs in the sanctity of Christian faith. If there’s anything in canon that gets slashed or paired up often, it’s angels. These are the Japanese after all. Just because angels are celestial beings doesn’t mean they can’t have sex… they either choose which organs to have, or worse, have both.

2) Beware of boys. Just because a particular series has lots of protagonists of the male gender doesn’t mean it’s a guy flick. It’s as much a guy flick as a sex video full of girls is supposed to be a chick flick.

3) Just because it looks like a girl doesn’t mean it’s a girl. Androgyny is in! Or maybe it’s simply bad art. When in doubt whether it’s a girl or a guy, assume the worst.

Early Birthday Present

Just visited the Fully Booked branch in Greenhills for the first time, despite the fact that it’s the nearest bookstore in my vicinity. Revel in the irony.

I was going to purchase a bunch of fantasy books, but budget constraints (I just survived a day and a half living with only P7 in my wallet) made me return books like Terry Pratchett’s A Hat Full of Sky and Clive Barker’s Imajica. I actually opted for books that I don’t normally read or purchase. Judge for yourself my selection:

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. P489.00. Lovely book design. An even better conceit is that the pages are numbered in reverse order. (DC fans might remember the horrible Zero Hour miniseries.)

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.P700.00. Highly recommended by a lot of people. And one of the best-selling books in

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami. P559.00 One of Elbert’s favorite authors, second only to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Also a fave of CCHQ’s Khristine, along with some other friends of mine.

The Complete Dictionary of Symbols edited by Jack Tresidder. P1262.00 (Ouch!). Perhaps one of the most expensive books I’ve bought recently. It’ll come in handy either for my writing or for research.

The History of the Runestaff by Michael Moorcock. P539.00. Okay, so it’s fantasy. But I dare you to find me another copy. It’s a rare book! Actually, I don’t even know why I bothered putting up the price. It’s not like you’ll find another copy of it in the Philippines anytime soon. Ha!

The Fully Booked Experience

There are three official Fully Booked stores in Metro Manila and for a huge bookstore retailer, strangely enough, each bookstore has a different feel to it, unlike Powerbooks and National Bookstore which has the “once-you’ve-seen-one, you’ve-seen-them-all” type of atmosphere. Even the independent bookstore A Different Bookstore is starting to lose its luster on my part, and as for Booktopia, I’ve only visited one shop so there will always be one Booktopia in my heart (until they open their Greenhills branch that is).

Ever since its revamp from being Page One (and the reason books were expensive was because of the licensing fee) and then the nameless bookstore for some period of time, Fully Booked has been inching slowly by slowly to be the number one bookstore around.

The Cubao branch, while perhaps the smallest branch around, is also perhaps the most manageable. Books are more or less where they’re supposed to be, with only minor deviations (such as the table near the front desk which features the new arrivals and the best-sellers). Because the place is small and Fully Booked has a wide selection, they do their best to stack as much variety into their shelves.

The Greenhills branch, and also the youngest, is actually the middle-child. Not too big, but not too small either. There are currently three floors, and each one is neatly categorized. The first floor is simply full of comics and related paraphernalia. The second floor is where all the books are. There’s some slight hopping you need to do (for example, I found fantasy in the fantasy section, in the fiction section, in the children’s section, and in new arrivals) but at least everything’s in the same vicinity. The third floor houses the design books, the art books, and some business books (or simply put, think of the third floor as the coffee table book area).

The Rockwell branch is perhaps the best in terms of selection, but if there’s anything to complain about, it’s with regards to book organization. I mean the shelving scheme seems almost random and doesn’t follow a logical pattern. Not to mention that fantasy/sci-fi fans are plagued by “I’m in several categories” books. If you’re the type that likes to scavenge books in the likes of Book Sale, you’ll probably enjoy the Rockwell branch. Because you’ll probably have to do as much digging as you do in used bookstores. But that aside, it’s probably the bookstore in the country that has the widest selection of books, and not just in the fantasy/science-fiction genre. Also remember that Fully Booked’s predecessor, Bibliarch, was the pioneer in design books, and Fully Booked doesn’t lack that either.

SF&F Masterwork Series

Erwin Romulo was constantly raving to me about Fully Booked’s comic and SF&F selection. A part of me doubted, thinking he was being biased since they brought in Neil Gaiman (and gave Erwin a chance to interview Neil as well) recently. The US comics are okay. It’s about as well-stocked as regular comic shops, although it has the definite advantage of having more shelf space (and a cheaper price). It also has lots of indies, which CCHQ actually beats, but you know, I mourn their passing. What makes my mouth water is their manga selection, which also happens to import Shonen Jump titles, a series which isn’t supposed to be shipped here in the Philippines (since their license is limited to North America). So if you want original titles of Ruroni Kenshin, Prince of Tennis, Naruto, and Bleach, this is the place to be. Oh, yaoi fans might be interested in Angel Sanctuary as well.

But that aside, Erwin constantly mentioned Fully Booked importing the Fantasy Masterwork and Science-Fiction Masterwork series. And you know, they’re a great series. I would order them more often, if it weren’t for the fact that they’re published by UK-based publishers, and most bookstores only order from the US. The only place I saw the Masterwork series was in Booktopia and that’s only the occasional title or two. And then I entered Fully Booked, and saw dozens and dozens of copies of it. It’s actually the definitive collection for any SF&F fan.

If you had the budget, grab a copy of the Masterwork series. Not only because they’re rare, but because they’re affordable as well (an omnibus would cost you less than P500). There’s two real reasons to get them though. A piece of fiction gets included into the Masterwork series for one of two reasons: either you’re a classic (think Tolkien, but Tolkien’s not the only pioneer in either genre), or because your writing is that good. Of course the former reason might not appeal to everyone. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Tolkien, but I can’t stand his writing. You’ll probably feel the same way about some of the “classics”, although because they’re classics, they’re worth reading even if it pains you to do so (hey, I read through Lord of the Rings, and Fellowship of the Ring twice because the copy in the library had the last few pages torn out, so I can be smug about this). I grabbed a copy of elusive titles like Robert Howard’s Conan, and Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series (both of which are out of print, although Del Rey I think will be reprinting some Conan series soon). My friend Vin, dracophile that he is, even managed to cull my copy of The Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick. And he’ll probably love it not because it’s a classic, but because of the quality of the writing.

If you must entertain a blind buy, the Fantasy Masterwork series or the Science-Fiction Masterwork series is probably it, especially if you’re a fan of the genre.


Blogger banzai cat said...

Heh, one thing nice also about Fully-Booked is that sometimes they have stock in one shop that they won't have in another. So if you can't find it in Rockwell, there's a chance it's in Greenhills or Cubao.

As for the Masterworks series, I love 'em. One thing about them is that they're primarily published because they're normally OOP. For example, Peake's classic Gorgemghast isn't part of Masterworks because it's published by another company. Likewise, Feist's Magician could be put in the Masterworks but since they're still re-publishing it, that rules it out.

What sucks is that FB came out with Cordwainer Smith's "Rediscovery of Man" but I wasn't able to get it. And now it's gone. *sob*

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding your first statement, that's both a good thing and a bad thing. =) Which is why it actually pays to visit each and every branch, unlike National Bookstore where "you've seen one, you've seen them all".

For your second statement, as I said, there's really only one of two reasons you get included in the list: either you're a classic (and typically out of print), or the writing is really good.

With regards to Rediscovery of Man, tell me about it. That's why I got the Moorcock Masterwork. And the worst part is that it's European, so it's not easily orderable from other bookstores. You can try Booktopia though.


12:12 AM  
Blogger banzai cat said...

Whoops! Hehe sorry, was bitten by the rephrasing bug.

*sigh* Unfortunately, Booktopia doesn't have Cordwainer Smith so am waiting if FB will really order more copies like they promised.

Hey, Booktopia is opening a branch in Greenhills? So I presume you know Robert? :-)

12:57 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Yeah but I think you can place an order at Booktopia. I tried doing so for A Different Bookstore (hence me being Vin and Dean's book pimp), but they really can't get the European books since their suppliers are US based.

Robert's the guy with a gay-accent at Booktopia right? Only by being a sheer customer.

I might talk to them soon though and see what are their terms for consignment books, as I'll be helping Dean distribute his anthology once it's out. I'd rather talk to the independent bookstores rather than the large ones.

5:00 AM  
Blogger banzai cat said...

Heh well I actually have a standing order at Booktopia, mostly older hard-to-find books.

Unfortunately, these must also be hard to find in the US also since they haven't had any luck. Likewise, Booktopia's admitted that they can't get European books.

And I've tried ordering one book at ADB but they seem to take longer than Booktopia. What's worse is they want it paid before they get it. Eh.

Re: Robert. Yep, that's the guy. I know what you mean about getting to know him due to repeated visits. Sheesh. Anyway, good luck on the consignment thing.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ordering at ADB usually takes one month (and during one rare instance, which surprised everyone, 2 weeks), unless you know, that book is really rare and hard-to-get. I tried ordering Vandermeer for Dean, for example, but they weren't able to get a copy of Venis Underground (there's a hardcover Vandermeer at Fully Booked Cubao though if you're interested... Saints and Madmen).

Actually it helps if you give them the ISBN, which I do via's search engine.

The downpayment isn't so bad, and the price is usually lower once they managed to order you the book (depending on the current exchange rate, so I usually get "change" when I get my book orders).

- Charles

8:13 PM  

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