Monday, September 26, 2005

[Blog Entry] Bookstore Musings, Lit Mag Musings

Bookstore Musings

So I dropped by Fully Booked again, this time at the Greenhills branch. It surprises me at how books I saw last week aren’t there anymore. I guess aside from the really popular authors (i.e. Neil Gaiman), Fully Booked just gets a few copies and spreads it out among their three branches. Look at the Fantasy Masterwork series: at each branch, I just see a copy or two of each title. And when I visit the various branches, each one has a different set. If you want to collect them all, I have to travel to Cubao to Greenhills to Rockwell.

On one hand, there’s something to look forward to when I visit each branch. On the other, well, it’s a logistical nightmare, especially if one isn’t as mobile as myself.

Lit Mag Musings

A lot of magazines are out in the Philippine market, from music to pop culture to lifestyle to gadgets. Long ago, I dreamed of working in a gaming magazine (gaming like Collectible Card Games and RPG’s, not just video games). Failing that, an anime magazine (please, don’t even get me started about Psi Com’s anime magazine.. while it’s a valiant effort, I could easily point out where they went wrong, and how everything could be overhauled). Right now, there’s a tinge of hope for a magazine that reviews books.

Except you know, both types of magazines belong to the big bookstores. Powerbooks has Read, while Fully Booked In Print. As much as I want to believe in the spirit of Filipino bibliophiles, well, a literary magazine might not exactly be the most lucrative of publications. Fully Booked virtually gave up on “selling” the magazine and gives it away for free. As for Read, unless Powerbooks discloses its sales, I have no idea how it’s doing. (And besides, selling books to Filipinos is already a hard sell to some people… how much more a magazine that deals with books that few people actually read?) And perhaps the problem with doing book reviews for publications like those is that, well, you’re supervised by bookstores. For one thing, you must review books that their bookstore keeps in stock (which can be a hassle if you plan on reviewing titles another bookstore has). The other is well, you can’t exactly not recommend the book you’re reading. I mean if you give a bad review, then it’s like you’re anti-promoting the book, and why would the bookstore publish such an article? The last thing a bookstore wants are unsold stocks (and in the bookstore business, space is money).

I remember my youth, at when there wasn’t any good local anime magazine around, I set up my own fanzine. Unfortunately, if it’s just going to be staffed by one person, I’m afraid the readership will be less than holistic. I mean I classify myself as a science-fiction and fantasy reader, and if truth be told, probably more of the latter than the former. If I started writing book reviews, it would probably belong to that one niche genre. How about the others? How about fiction, nonfiction, poetry, horror, etc.?

And well, there’s a reason why it’s called a lit mag rather than a book review magazine. So you know, there should be something else in it aside from book reviews. Perhaps one of the advantages of working for a bookstore is the fact that you automatically get invites to their events. (Unfortunately, the only thing you’ll be covering will be their events.) You won’t get any press passes, but one has the freedom to cover virtually any event, whether it’s a film showing, a book discussion, or a book launch, as long as you’re allowed to go in. Of course my tendency to ask is how frequent such events occur? I mean how often do we get writers like Neil Gaiman to visit the Philippines? Or a Harry Potter novel is launched? I guess there’ll always be the annual SF con, and the occasional bleep like Serenity but other than that, well, hopefully there’ll be lots of open events.

Of course this is all theoretical, unless someone actually picks up the pieces. You know, an actual staff, an editor, and a layout artist (even if the thing will just be up on the Internet or something). (It’s a good thing you don’t know what I have cooked up for a definitive anime/manga magazine… the proposal is just lying around my hard drive, and more extensive that this blathering.)


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