Saturday, January 14, 2006

[Blog Entry] Economic Musings

Economic Musings

It's been decades since we last came up with a good economic idea. Most people subscribe to capitalism (or any of its variations), even though many are similarly against it ("Damn those capitalists!). Then there's Communism, but history has proven that it just won't work (or perhaps we're not civilized or trusting enough for it to work). So I've been wondering, what's the next economic trend? Or is Capitalism here to stay?

I've been noticing one rising pattern that marks the late 90's and early 2000's. It's preceded by the popularity of the Internet, the realization that networking is important in business, and open source advocates (many of which stem from the computer industry). It's the idea of free stuff. You get something for nothing. Or rather, you don't charge a specific amount. Perhaps the best example of this is Wikipedia. It's a company with big expenses. Yet it's managed to survive for the past few years through donations. It provides a service, yes, but it doesn't charge. Other examples of this, albeit on a smaller scale, are probably the fandoms. Scanlating and fansubbing services are prolific in the Internet, and most of these are services are provided for free, the access to which are usually donation-based services.

But things aren't limited to the Internet. Some marketing promos are essentially "free". Things such as "spread the word to 10 people and get X item for free" are often scams, but some are legitimate promos and get the job done. Another one I'd link to this trend are network marketing companies. True, you still pay for the products, but the profit sharing-like income is akin to spreading the word, sitting back, and relax. We're shifting to thinking hard to earn rather than working hard to earn. Smarts more than effort, although of course, the latter is still necessary.

We also have all these file sharing programs/companies, from the defunct Napster to the rising popularity of eMule and BitTorrent. Who knows what's in store on how these can be tapped for revenue? Blogs are capable of earning money through ads, and both Google and Yahoo are seeking ways to generate income from their email services with spamming people. It gives new meaning to the term "free market".

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Friday, January 13, 2006

[Blog Entry] More Sales, Amazing Race

More Sales

No more sale at Fully Booked, but Powerbooks is on sale until the end of the month.

Amazing Race

Because of stupidity on my part and my overeagerness to please, I did something which would normally be unthinkable.

During rush hour (7:30 pm) on a pay day Friday, I went from Mega Mall to Rockwell (Fully Booked) to Greenhills (Fully Booked) back to Mega Mall. All in the span of two hours (9:30 pm). It was a combination of running, the MRT, a cab, and more running.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

[Blog Entry] Ink & Stone Sale

Ink & Stone Sale

Fresh off the press! Ink & Stone Podium inventory sale, 20% - 35% off.

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[Blog Entry] Sore Muscles

Sore Muscles

My arm muscles are sore, strangely, because of lifting books. What a geek's life huh? I was at the Philippine Star library again yesterday (and I'll be there tomorrow again as well), lifting huge books that compiled all the newspaper articles of 1987. And yes, they are heavy. If this keeps up, lifting them will be the equivalent of me going to the gym.

My legs and foot are in similar pain, not because of all the jogging I'm doing, but probably because I've been using my legs as a table for the books. One of the bones in my foot also seems to be sore (but not swelling), which is why it's a bit difficult for me to walk, much less run (but I've done so).

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

[Blog Entry] Random Encounters, The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth, Crossing Cities

Random Encounters

I'm really a person who thrives on random encounters. To be honest, I'm not someone who has close friends. So when I run into acquaintances, whether it's on the street, in a mall, or at work, I'm really thrilled.

Of course sometimes, life for me is simply full of random encounters. I run into various people all the time. Perhaps the secret to that is to go out of your way to meet people. Hang out in a mall; at Starbucks; at school.

The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

I'm a geek. In grade school and high school, I've always been teased for that. Lately though, there's a big temptation to be condescending to non-geeks. That's because geeks ahead of their time. It's knowing Lord of the Rings before it was ever shown in theaters; having read League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and V is for Vendetta before it was adapted for the movies; knowing the world of Forgotten Realms before it was popularized by Baldur's Gate; having watched Triumph insult people at the Conan O'Brien show before people here have heard of Triumph; or simply listening to mp3s on your desktop way back before mp3 players existed.

Crossing Cities

I just noticed that everyday, when I walk home from work, I'm actually traveling through three cities. The Mega Mall area, for example, is Pasig. Once I reach Robinsons Galleria, I'm in Quezon City. Crossing EDSA to reach home, I'm in Mandaluyong. If I do take a visit to Shoppesville, I'm in San Juan, making it four! But you know, I'm really just walking a short distance. Relatively.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

[Blog Entry] Still More Comic Reactions

Still More Comic Reactions

On The Japanese Manga Revisited:

It is claimed that at its peak in 1995, Japanese manga publications comprised about 40% of Japan's total publishing industry. Since then, like all other print publications, its numbers began to decline but not as significant as one would like to believe. In an article appearing in the online version of the "Japan Times", it is reported that as of 2003, manga publications comprise 20 to 27% percent of Japan's total publishing industry. This percentage is still a huge number.

The stats are more or less right, as I have a similar book (Adult Manga) showing the uphill and downhill trend of manga. Is the manga industry dying? No. But admittedly, dropping to 27% from 40% is a big hit. That's like losing one third of your sales.

But experience has shown that the influence of manga is still prevalent. Take a look at the manga Hikaru no Go, a manga about the strategic Japanese game of Go. When the manga (and anime) was being circulated, interest in the game soared. So manga is still a big contender in the media, although perhaps not the giant it used to be.

What could have brought about this downhill decline? For one thing, the Japanese economic recession of the late 1990s has affected the spending power of manga readers as the depression extended itself beyond 2003. It is only recently that a gradual economic turnabout has occurred and that it remains to be seen if the Japanese manga will surge back to its former peak sales and maybe beyond.

I said it before and I'll say it again: recession hits everyone. That's still no excuse to stop buying luxury goods (unless the economic status is something on the scale of the Great Depression). There are actually several theories as to why manga has declined in Japan. Alternative forms of entertainment is one suggestion, from the Internet to video games to movies. And just in case you didn't notice, Japan is like the video game capital of the world (unfortunately for Microsoft, the X-Box ain't popular there).

Another good example of this is the nature of manga cafes, places where you can rent manga. Currently, they're diversifying their selection, not limiting themselves to manga but exploring other forms of entertainment like anime, video games, Internet, etc. Whereas manga cafes used to survive on the manga and cafe alone, now they're depending on other forms of entertainment as well. A manga cafe is a good example on how the media entertainment industry in Japan is evolving.

In the same aforequoted Japan Times article, Schilling notes the rise of used or previously read manga discount shops as seriously cutting into the sales of manga, and of most manga publishers' stubborn and proud insistence of selling their books with no discounts.

Yes, I'd like to think that the used-books shops do hurt the publishers. There are also several online shops that sell used manga and the like. The manga cafes also hurt the publishers for the same reason the used-books shops do. Then there's also doujinshi, fan-made manga, which remains popular, but of course, the sales of which doesn't directly benefit the manga publishers.

In certain ways, manga publishers shouldn't give discounts. The mass-consumption model of manga is that of the anthologies which come out either once a week or once a month. The comics there are printed on newsprint. The compiled manga or tankoubons are printed on better quality paper, and cost less than the weekly/monthly anthologies.

Writing, drawing, printing, distributing, marketing and licensing billions of copies of print manga on a weekly basis is such a phenomenal feat that one cannot just oversimplify and ascribe the creative force or motivation behind all this to "selfless devotion to art" or for "monetary considerations". As previously mentioned in Go Tchiei's article, a large percentage of creative manga people do not earn a decent living through manga work alone.

Yes, that's true. Only the most successful ones can earn a living through manga alone. However, that's also applicable to other related industries, such as the book industry. Many authors, unless they're a Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett, write on the side and have a day job to support themselves and their families.

From the foregoing, we are thus faced with the portrait of a country run essentially by obedient and efficient drones. Ever wonder why those manga copies are so intimidatingly thick? Why the art is so detailed? The production values high? Why most of these manga do not give credit to the numerous production and art assistants helping the main writer and artist behind the scenes?

The answer is the hierarchical, near feudal, Japanese corporate system. Because of this system, there is no ego or individualistic pride of creators in the comics work. Every art assistant's contribution is for the betterment of the main writer or artist. The assistant remains unknown and he is expected to be happy with it. He or she must adopt to the main writer or artist's style and maintain the latter's original vision. All contributions are for the main writer or artist's benefit.

Yes, Japan's production cycle is as intimidating as it is efficient. While it is true that contributors don't always get credited to the public, they do get credit within their industry. There are typically two ways to make it as a manga artist. One way is to win a competition and make a name for yourself. The other is to apprentice yourself to an existing manga artist, which means doing all the drone work. Between the two, the former is the quicker, although perhaps more competitive, way of achieving manga-ka status. The latter is not without its rewards though. Despite taking more time, "drones" do get promoted and get to come up with their own manga. Take a look at Eiichiro Oda, creator of the highly successful One Piece. He himself was a drone, an assistant to another highly successful manga-ka, Nobuhiro Watsuki (who made Rurouni Kenshin).

I'm not saying that Japanese manga production is fair to everyone involved, but it does have its own merits as well, and is not as bleak as you point it out to be.

Applied to the Philippine (and even American) situation, can we honestly imitate the Japanese comics industry by having the same hierarchical social structure run by oligarchies? Apparently not. Filipinos have had the same intense social and historical experience with the Spaniards but with the coming of the Americans in the early 20th century and of Filipinos' indoctrination to American style democracy and individual freedom, willingly going back to a hierarchical and oligarchic set-up would be difficult. Although in recent times attempts were being made towards that direction by the Marcos dictatorship and by the current political crisis plaguing the country.

Not quite true. Can Japanese culture be applied to us? No, because we're Filipinos. We do things differently, not necessarily because of our Spanish history or American history. Yet some part of the Japanese production is apt for us. I mean Filipinos are great at copying, at mimicking. If Filipinos did indeed adopt the Japanese production cycle, we'd be good at in-betweening and the like. And to a certain point, we do. We are part of the Japanese production cycle, just not manga-wise. We do animation for the Japanese. If there's anything more labor intensive than making manga, it's making anime. Even Japan can't cope up with such intensive labor that they outsource to countries with cheaper yet equally talented labor such as Korea, China, and yes, the Philippines. You might not know it, but we're doing Japanese animation. We don't get much credit for it, but we're part of the "drone" system. Unfortunately, the recognition goes to someone else (Japan). So it's not as far-fetched as it seems.

Comics production is labor intensive. It is supported by one of the most stringest labor laws in the entire world slanted to favor the laborer; at least in Philippine law, that is. Most comics artists and writers weaned on the American democratic way of life, are fiercely egotistical and individualistic. They demand high payment. Production assistants do not stay long and do not often emulate the lead writer or artist's style. Their names need to be acknowledged over all others. There is no sense of duty, obligation, or of patience. The fast buck is often the norm. There is no willingness to share what was learned. Everything stops when every one of them dies with nothing passed to the next generation.

As I pointed out earlier, Filipinos do work for little recognition. I'm not saying everyone does, but it happens. Perhaps not in our comic industry, but in the anime industry. In a way, such labor intensive production is suited for us, because we have cheap labor. Labor is our of our primary commodities (and all our OFWs can be classified as labor as well).

However, even if we, or the Americans, adopted the Japanese-style production, we still wouldn't meet our deadlines. Why? Because we simply have different aesthetic sense and production. Take American comics. Each issue is some 20+ pages, fully colored. They get released in a month. Take the Japanese tankoubon. It's nearly 200 pages long, and takes around two months to get released. But that's only possible not just because of its efficient production, but because it's in black and white. Some manga even lack detail; little or no backgrounds, simple art for the characters, etc. You can't get away with that for American comics. For Filipino tastes, people suddenly start paying attention when you're in color, even if you're tissue-paper thin, or your drawings are as simple as Snoopy. I think that fact, more than anything, explains why the Japanese system won't work for us. Not because of our egos, but because of our tastes.

True, most Filipino comics creators are "creative", but they are also fiercely individualistic as well (for all the wrong reasons). Not enough budding comics creators with huge egos are willing to make temporary "sacrifices" for a higher goal. They all think that "art" and ONLY art, specifically THEIR respective styles of art, can save the world. No wonder the comics industry the Philippines today is so infantile, imitative, and chaotic. Must we become obedient drones as well like the Japanese to jumpstart our near catatonic Philippine comics industry?

That, my friends, is a loaded statement. Of course there are egotistical artists and writers. But not everyone is like that. And again, as I have pointed out, there have been several instances when Filipinos have sacrificed credit or their egos to achieve certain goals. And even if we adopted Japanese policy, that still won't necessarily jumpstart our "comics industry".

Meanwhile in Japan where the economic recession is almost over, manga creators are poised to recoup lost ground. Will they regain their former 40% publishing output status? To recall, such a hierarchical and oligarchic society breeds a boiler plate situation of repressed and disgruntled workers silently keeping their resentments to themselves. Such repression (as discussed elsewhere in this blog) is one of the reasons why manga is so successful in Japan, for manga serves as an outlet of expression for such a repressed class. It is a national pastime and escape with such diverse and rich categories.

And that is why adopting manga production won't necessarily solve our issues either. Manga was made for the typical Japanese in mind. While we do have a lot of manga fans in the country, adopting manga sensibilities, production, and styles won't necessarily jumpstart the local comic industry.

Recent developments in Japan however, indicate that the dominant oligarchy steeped in tradition is being challenged by Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi. Challenging the repressive status quo and of the overall hierarchical structure of society is brewing. Today's generation of Japanese are more outspoken and open-minded. If this trend develops, one could only speculate if this could affect the growth of Japanese manga.

If more freedom of expression is granted and psychological/societal repression is lessened, then it just may be possible that manga readership could dwindle. Indeed, why pour all your fantasies and daydreams in a printed comicbook when you can now do something about it in real life because of the freedoms now acknowledged to you by society?

No, another development that could happen is that there would be more people willing to venture into the manga industry on their own, without the big publisher's backing. It could be independent publishing (and indeed, that happens with doujinshi). It could be online publishing (web comics, alternative online mediums, etc.). The only difference is perhaps the time it will take to release it. Whereas it would take a staff to churn out manga in a week, it would take one guy to produce it in a month. For some, that's worth the wait.

But this euphoric surge of komiks readership peaked only a few years until it began to dip in 1991 until by the late 1990s they were no more; inundated by the new surge of diverse and alternative media such as pirated dvds, romance pocketbooks, the internet, ipods, and mobile phones, which media better serviced the Filipino public's freedom and hunger for diverse and better information and entertainment. Could the same thing happen to the Japanese manga industry if the same wave of liberalization continues to rise?

I'd like to think that the comic industry died here because it failed to evolve. Old formulas won't work for a new audience. I obviously can't speak for Japan, but as long as it learns and evolves, it'll survive the years to come. In the face of competition, there's value in the philosophy of survival of the fittest. As for us, many comic creators are trying out different stuff, trying their hand. The good thing about the lack of a big industry is that anyone can try their hand at experimenting without fearing that a big company will try to shut you down.

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[Book Review] The Shadow Road by Sean Russell

The Rating System:

1 – There are better ways to spend your time. Examples: Damphir
2 – Ho hum novels, typical of its genre. Examples: most Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels.
3 – A cut above the rest, these are usually standard fare stories with either an interesting twist, gorgeous visualizations, or simply make a very interesting read. Examples: Anita Blake series, Dragonlance Chronicles.
4 – Highly recommended books! An interesting read, and pioneers the genre it’s in. Examples: Kushiel’s Dart, Perdido Street Station, Good Omens.
5 – A classic. Must get at all cost. Examples: A Game of Thrones, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant, Dune.

The Shadow Road by Sean Russell

Concluding Russell’s Swan’s War trilogy, The Shadow Road leaves little room for exposition and delves into the action. Which is just as well, considering the previous two books were increasing the stakes, especially the revelation of another enemy at the end of the second novel. Whereas Russell utilized flowery words and apt metaphors in the previous books to describe certain scenes, that’s not evident here, probably due to the fact that the characters have no time to admire the scenery as they are wrapped in conflict. This is a can’t put down book for those who’ve followed the books, and is full of excitement. The ending is also noteworthy, as Russell shies away from the happily-ever-after syndrome, but leaving readers content, and room for further exploration.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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[Blog Entry] Printing Error, Gameplan

Printing Error

The fact that I was able to finish reading two books today is only marred by the fact that one of them had a printing error. My copy of Smaller and Smaller Circles were missing pages 40-60+, and in their place were repetitions of pages 60+ to 70+.

What I admire about US sensibilities is that they have such a thing as customer satisfaction. Not satisfied? Send it back for a refund. Unfortunately, the shops here (and not just bookstores) have a time limit of somewhere between 3 to 7 days, and only if there's a defect.


Game Plan is looking for new hosts (one guy, one girl), and two out of the three female finalists are people I know. One is Joanne, a friend from nearly seven years back, in the chatroom Pinoy Otaku back when I was still lurking around chatrooms, and the other is batchmate Lala, who I doubt even remembers me, but was my classmate in Biology, and hanged with the Soc. Sci. block until she shifted course to Psychology.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

[Blog Entry] More Comic Reactions

More Comic Reactions

On Fearless Forecast 2006:

My main problem with this post is that it's the usual doom and gloom post. Honestly, doom and gloom posts about the Philippines isn't exactly rare. In fact, I've probably made a couple. It doesn't take a genius to realize how government policy or the ever-increasing peso to dollar rate will affect every industry, and not just comics.

But you know what, what does that mean? That people should give up? Everyone has had their own economic crisis, including the US and Japan. But they move on. Same goes with our country. Sorry, but we've been having an economic crisis for the past 20 years. If it was that terrible, we wouldn't have lasted this long. The ingenius and dedicated will find a way. Or think of it as a challenge to be more creative and to come up with a more efficient way of distributing comics (web comics is an alternative, for example).

Even more alarming: with the general populace in intense saving mode amidst this godawful economic and political crisis, why should they shell out their hard-earned pesos for luxury items like glossy imported or globalized Filipino comic books? For escapist entertainment? Not a chance. They could readily get that from other cheaper, more stimulating, and readily accessible media such as: the internet, video games, cable tv, cellphones, pirated discs, and comic book movies. These are the preferred media for entertainment nowadays.

Surprisingly, even admist poverty, people will find ways to acquire luxury goods. People don't simply work, eat, and sleep. Not even the poor do that. There will always be a room of luxury items, especially recreation. Although granted, comics stands to compete against other media such as video games, DVDs, TV, and radio. And again, as can be said of any enterprise, know your market. A comic industry does not need to depend on the masses to survive. If your comic is a luxurious luxury item, then make sure it gets into the right markets. Profit does not always necessitate addressing the mass market. If that were the case BMW would have gone out of business a long time ago.

So what can local comics do? What can Filipino comics do? Imitate more mainstream American and Japanese sources? Continue to stay in the sidelines as if nothing is happening and go on being apathetic? Do more harmless, kid-friendly, and generally sedate comics entertainment for the elite? The short answer is yes. Its STILL happening.

Of course I'm for variety. Let some comic creators do mainstream and/or kid friendly titles. I wouldn't want an entire industry that's dominated by socially relevant comics either. But similarly, that shouldn't stop people from publishing other types of comics. And I think the writer is, in many ways, confused. A lot of comic creators do put out comics that aren't mainstream and/or kid friendly, for example. Unfortunately, because they're not mainstream, they obviously don't get as much publicity as a mainstream title would. They're called indies, the independent comic scene. It's not necessarily a big scene, but it's there nonetheless. It's not as diverse as I'd want it to be, but it's a start. American comics is actually also diverse, but a lot of its diversity comes from the indie market.

On Licensed Foreign Comics: Who Really Benefits?:

Can we honestly say that many local Filipino comics writers and artists are employed on an ongoing basis whenever a several months old issue of say, Dragon Ball Z, Witch, or Justice League, is reprinted and sold in the local comics market? Of course not. Is Filipino readership and support for original Filipino comics works generated? Not by a long shot. Does the licensing money paid to foreign comics companies redound back to the printing and publication of local comics works? Are you kidding? The money goes directly to the foreign publisher! Is the profit obtained from these licensing activities poured back into the production of varied and original Filipino comics titles? Don't bother holding your breath.

I'm not so much as arguing as clarifying some things. What he fails to take notice is who the publisher is. For example, Summit Media publishes foreign comics. They don't accept local submissions (and some say for good reason: because they want to meet their deadlines and publish regularly, which unfortunately some artists and writers can't meet, especially when they're starting on a brand new series). Do the profits of Summit improve the "local comic industry"? Not really (although being who they are, they do provide jobs to many Filipinos from their other publications, and who knows what's in store for the future?). Then you also have Psi-Com. What do they usually publish? Still foreign comics, especially the DC titles that are shrunk to digest format. What the writer fails to notice is that Psi-Com also publishes local comics as well, including the recent fantasy anthology. So money does go back to the Filipino artists and writers.

A tactic some book publishers might employ is this: I come out with ten books, and only one or two of them is a best-seller. That best-seller funds my eight other titles. Business-wise, that seems like a bad formula. But not everything is judged by profit, and such practices give birth to diversity, or publishing the titles you want to publish, be they socially relevant ones, artistic, etc. that would not otherwise have been published. For all I know, other comic companies (like Psi-Com) might be employing this strategy. So don't cry "foul!" just because a publisher publishes foreign comics.

So, are the statements "Is Filipino readership and support for original Filipino comics works generated?" and "Does the licensing money paid to foreign comics companies redound back to the printing and publication of local comics works?" true? Not necessarily all the time. It can. Although admittedly, a successful locally published comic will provide more cash flow to the local industry that an import one. As for money going back to the foreign publisher, only a percentage of the profits goes back to them. Either that or a flat rate licensing fee.

Local publishers need to be persuaded and convinced of the viability of a local comics industry. And you can't do that by just concentrating on making good stories and art. Business-minded creative people need to come out of their rabbit hole. Especially those business-minded creative people who have adequate financial resources.

While I'll agree that more business-minded people need to be active in the comic industry, I'm not exactly supportive of giving up on good stories and art. I mean what would happen if I publish a highly commercial comic that sells well, but has bad art and/or story. What is that projecting?

That's why I like the concept of a team. Because each one can make up for the weaknesses of others. Someone can come up with a good story and art. Another will make it commercially viable if it's in their interests to do so (a successful "comic" is not just measured in sales, mind you: one needs to have a mission and vision, and see if they're achieving that). I mean there will be compromises, but if you're an art comic, conceding to the commercial aspect might not be in your best interests. So sometimes you must balance things out, but at other times one should never compromise. Just be sure what you hope to accomplish. If it's profit, then that's well and good. But just because you're profitable does not mean you're improving the industry.

Want to jumpstart a local and moribund comics industry? Concentrate on the BUSINESS of publishing for once, which involves marketing and distribution. Its what the comics industries of Japan, Hong Kong, France, and the United States do.

Now I find this statement a bit funny. The guy is essentially saying "Don't mimic American or Japanese comics... but mimic their comic industry."

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

[Blog Entry] Comic Blatherings

Comic Blatherings

Mainly some specific reactions to this >anonymous blogger.

On What It Takes to Be No. 1:

Do you remember the so-called "Premiere Comic Book of the Philippines" that came out sometime in mid-2000 and then suddenly disappeared without a trace? Actually, the publisher prefers to call it the "Premiere Anime'-inspired Comic Magazine of the Philippines", but that wasn't the tag line that appeared in its posters.

I don't know why, but in his other blog entries, he didn't shy away from name dropping. So why doesn't he/she just say that it's Culture Crash that he's (I'll use "he" for the sake of simplicity) talking about? And he's anonymous anyway, so why bother with avoiding reprisal?

Internet search disclose that the creative team involved purportedly decided to pursue their own individual interests and cease publication. However, after recently conferring with a reliable source involved with the publication itself this blogger found out some interesting facts. Foremost of these is that it never sold below 15,000 copies nor above 30,000 copies.

Now you may think that's pretty high but if you consider the fact that in Metro Manila alone we have a population of about 2.5 million households or approximately 12 million individuals, a minimum of 15,000 to a maximum of 30,000 copies is pretty low, wouldn't you agree?

I'll tackle this in several ways. First, for simplicity's sake, I will assume that the writer has his facts straight with regards to sales. I love whole numbers, so let's assume it's 20,000 copies per issue that was sold.

First, is 20,000 copies a lot compared to the country's entire population? No. But 20,000 is a big number relative to commercial publishing. I mean most books have a print run of 1000~2000. And despite what some magazines might tell you, 20,000 rivals the print run of most magazines (minus magazine giant Summit, of course, and their popular FHM which prints more than that number). For a locally published comic, 20,000 is a lot. If it was election propaganda comics, that number isn't much, but for a small business venture, it's big and is probably the comic with the highest print run in the past four years.

My second argument is the statement of the facts. What's the actual print run? Is 15,000 ~ 30,000 sales per issue, or per month? If it's the latter, it's really a huge number. If it's the former, well, it's still an outstanding figure.

Even for a target audience, the above number is still small for advertising purposes. Why spend thousands (or millions) for print ad on the First Pinoy Manga if its selling only from 15 to 30 thousand? Better that it be placed on television, on AXN, Animax, or a nationwide broadsheet newspaper in order to get results.

In line with my arguments above, this statement is based on ignorance. In publishing, we have this multiplier that applies to circulation. Assuming you have a print run of 20,000 and all of that sells, does that mean only 20,000 people read it? The math will average it at around 100,000. Why? In your household, do each of you buy a copy of the local newspaper? Obviously not; the whole family shares one copy. Same goes with other publications, from magazines to comics. One is enough to go around the family, the barkada ("friends" or "clique"), the classroom, the office, etc. 20,000 might not seem like a lot, but 100,000 is.

The second why his argument does not work is because advertising is not just math (and that's assuming he has his figures for AXN and Animax right). Or rather, it's not simply advertising in a media that has a large audience. There's also such a thing as a target audience. The target audience of AXN, for example, is different from that of Culture Crash. Sure, there are overlapping audiences, but it's not a Coke vs Pepsi thing. Each one can also cater to a different market. One might advertise SMART on AXN, while Talk 'N Text on Culure Crash; both products are from the same company, but the target market of SMART and Talk 'N Text are different from each other.

There's also the fact that TV advertising is different from print advertising. TV advertising lasts a few seconds. Print is permanent. One also pays for each commercial aired; with print, you merely pay for the page multiplied by the circulation of the publication. There's a big difference there, as the former will only last for a certain period (i.e. if you're willing to pay for one month, the commercial gets aired only for one month), while the latter exists as long as the publication in question exists.

As for the broadsheet comparison, the target market comes into play. If you'r a niche market, you might be better off advertising in a more specialized publication. Let's say Broadsheet A has a circulation of 1,000,000 in comparision to Culture Crash with a circulation of 20,000. The former will reach more audiences, definitely, but it also comes at a higher price tag. And even then, you're not sure if the 1,000,000 people it reaches is your target market. Let's say you cater to the AB market. How many percent of the 1,000,000 is the AB market? It might be something like 10%. Why pay for a circulation of 1,000,000, when only 10% of that is your target market? It's like paying for something you want at ten times the price. Let's assume Culture Crash's market is the AB crowd (I'm assuming... I'm not saying that it really is), and 80% of its readers belong to that crowd. If you advertise there, you have more bang for your buck as there's only a 20% inflation rate, compared to the broadsheet that has a 900% inflation rate. You're getting a more concentrated market with something like Culture Crash more than a general one. I'm not saying that general advertising is bad, but for some products, it's better to focus on specific markets.

Another factor going against it is that the First Pinoy Manga appears infrequently if not unpredictably. Advertisers generally want to advertise in publications that appear regularly so their ads could be seen frequently. I suspect that any ad that appeared in its issues were "x-deals" or ads placed without monetary payment but in kind.

If there's anything valid in his entire post, it's this. However, would-be publishers can heed this advice. Advertising contracts for publications doesn't have to be stated in months or even every two months. You can make a one-year contract promising that you'll be releasing four times a year, and that their ads will appear in one, two, three, or all four of those releases for the year.

Average household spending in rural areas is Php 3,150 a month while in urban areas, its Php 3,592 (Source: Basket Behavior, Ibid.) These amounts are mostly allocated to basic necessities such as food, electricity, transportation, education, communication, and personal care products. There is almost no allocation for luxury items such as fiction books or printed comic books of any kind. So again, if I were the advertiser, its better that I advertise in an anime' television show where my target audience wouldn't have to buy anything to see my ad. All they have to do is click on the TV, watch the anime' program and voila, see my ad. Who needs the printed Pinoy Manga?

Again, it goes back to target audience. Who ever said the market of Culture Crash was the D- and E-class crowd? And if you take a look at it, it also makes sense with the "low" print run. If I was really targeting the DE market, would I just print 20,000 copies? And sell it at somewhere P100.00? And with a relatively high quality print-run (paper stock and color)? You're simply making a wrong assumption here. It's like using baseball theory on a basketball game. Right thoughts, wrong application.

No wonder the first Pinoy Manga closed shop. Business-wise, it wasn't managed well and it sure as hell wasn't that profitable. But hey, the westernized elite fans had fun and the magazine distributors earned a lot of money at their expense, didn't they?

They closed shop for a lot of reasons, and not necessarily all of them due to the industry. I mean I can think of several reasons why they closed down due to their own negligence. Their release schedule, for example. The industry is not to be blamed for that. I'd also like to point out that they survived this long not simply due to good planning, but the fact that James, the publisher, owns the printing press as well. They're able to cut cost in ways other would-be comic publishers can't (unless they happen to own a printing press as well).

I'd react more to his other "essays" on the industry, but this post is already long as it is.

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[Blog Entry] Want to be a RPG Game Designer?, 10 Days Clean, Workout

Want to be a RPG Game Designer?

Wizards is hiring.

10 Days Clean

No, I'm not on dope, alcohol, or any addictive substance (unless you count soya milk). As some of you might know, I've been playing video games for the past three months last year, to the detriment of everything else.

It's officially been ten days since I last played Warcraft DotA, and no, there are no withdrawal symptoms. I've actually been productive in several ways such as...


Every exercise regiment has its own difficulties. Right now I'm focusing on cardiovascular (read: breathing), mainly because of my poor respiratory system (read: allergies) and frequent colds that earned me the nickname uhog ("snot") in high school.

Running regularly requires tremendous willpower on my part (It's a DC 20 Will save!). Because it's really a lifestyle change. The optimal time for me to run is around 6 am - 7 am. The reason why it's that time because I have work at 9 am, and I don't want to rush to work (which results in things like forgetting to bring certain items or skipping breakfast, which is just as unhealthy).

I don't jog in the evening because running requires me to be on an empty stomach. Anyone who's run at least 5 kilometers will know that midway, your stomach seems to be bulging and if you ate anything recently, it's dying to come out. Even if you drink just a glass of water, you feel the liquid swirling in your stomach as you run. So it's really highly recommended that you run before you have breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And with my schedule, before breakfast is the only option.

Of course in order to be able to wake up at 6 am - 7 am, one needs to sleep early. Whereas last year I was asleep past midnight, 11 pm is pushing it these days. Not that I have a social life or anything to miss.

Lastly, I live near a school. The problem with that is that a lot of cars pass me by. Along with the smoke from their vehicles. Which leads me to cough and spit out phlegm. And that simply ruins my rhythm. But one must go on and finish your goal (which is why it's important to set a goal in the first place).

And a reminder to anyone who works out, whether at the gym or at home. If you don't want strained muscles, don't forget to do your warm-ups and cooldowns. The basics are often the most effective.

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[Blog Entry] Fully Booked Sale

Fully Booked Sale

I would have posted this sooner but I didn't have Internet access for the past two days.

Anyway, I passed by the Rockwell branch yesterday, and lo and behold, they were on sale, with items at 20% off (15% for credit cards).

On a side note, Japanese translators should pay a visit because I spotted them having The New Nelson Japanese-English Character Dictionary. It's going for P3168.00 but with the discount, well, you do the Math. =) Got one for myself but since I'm not doing any translating anytime soon, friends can borrow it.

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