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Books and Images and Collaboration from viction:ary

posted April 30, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling books publishing


Anyone who ever looked at picture books as a child knows that books aren’t just about text. Visual images can be just as powerful as the written word. I find myself drawn to books that celebrate visual images, whether they are photographs, graphic designs, or hand-drawn artwork, so I was excited to discover viction:ary, a Hong Kong-based publisher that specializes in collaborative image books.

viction:ary’s books cover a range of topics, including tattoos, architecture, fonts, and logos. The firm’s latest offering is Nice to Meet You Too: Visual Greetings from Business Cards to Identity Packages. It’s a sequel to, you guessed it, Nice to Meet You, which was published in 2006. I learned about this book via Yuko Uemura, a graphic and textile designer whose screenprinted towels I have purchased. Her business card is featured in this edition.

Here are a few more covers to tantalize you:
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Lending a Hand to the Little Guy

posted January 11, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling books independent


Let’s say you’re a small, independent bookseller that unfortunately happens to be down the street from some giant megastore chain that offers deep discounts on the same books you’re trying to sell at full retail price. You’re probably out of luck and better off opening a hot dog stand, right? Well, maybe not. I just read an article about such a case in England.

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Why NOT Judge a Book by Its Cover?

posted November 17, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books publishing

From an early age we are warned not to judge a book by its cover, but now that I am an adult, I question this advice. Why can’t we judge a book by the cover? Isn’t that why new books are displayed face out, to capture one’s attention? Why are book designers and illustrators paid good money to create attractive covers if they don’t matter? Now there are certain books I will buy no matter what the cover is, but with undiscovered authors when I am wandering aimlessly through a bookstore? Something needs to catch my eye, and an ugly or boring cover isn’t going to do it.

So let’s conduct a little experiment here. Following are four covers for the same book, Chinua Achebe’s seminal Things Fall Apart.


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The Green Apple of My Eye

posted August 4, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books books

Amazon’s Kindle has stirred up its share of controversy. It seems people either love it or hate it. It would probably be safe to assume independent booksellers would lean toward the “hate it” category, but let’s not jump to conclusions. Green Apple Books, an independent bookstore in San Francisco, has decided to evaluate, with an open mind, the Kindle on its blog in a 10-part webisode battle of sorts. Each round explores different aspects of reading and compares how the book and the Kindle fare.

So far there have been three rounds. In the first the book and the Kindle test their mettle in the used-book-selling category. The second round explores the experience of purchasing a book. In the third the book and the Kindle go head-to-head in terms of borrowing or sharing a book. Spoiler alert: so far the book is in the lead 3-0. Care to place any bets on the final outcome?

So pop some popcorn and take a look at these clever and humorous webisodes. I can’t wait to see the final score!

The Book vs. the Kindle: Round 2

The Book vs. the Kindle: Round 3

Brave New World of Publishing

posted July 7, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling publishing technology trends

Image by Wayan Vota via Flickr

We are gearing up to launch ourselves into our publishing venture, and to prepare, we’ve been doing a lot of research. There are many, many opinions about the current state of the publishing industry and the direction in which it is headed. Some will tell you publishing is on the brink of death; others feel there has not been a better time to enter the industry. What is clear is the industry is in flux and affected by changes in the economy and technology.

A somewhat controversial topic, or at least one that generates a lot of opinions, is that of digital books or e-books. Personally I think that as long as there are books to read, it doesn’t matter whether they are on a printed page or in digital format. I like to switch back and forth between digital and printed books, but there are diehards out there who would prefer to avoid e-books.

I don’t know which format author J. A. Konrath prefers for reading, but in a recent blog post he made a strong case for e-books, explaining why and how publishers should produce them. A few points I found particularly interesting and thought provoking:

  • Books cost too much: Konrath details how publishers determine the price of a print book and how that model can and should be changed. He argues that publishing companies are basing e-book pricing on traditional print pricing, which is calculated by profit per unit and doesn’t apply to e-books.
  • Piracy should be battled not with higher security and restraints but with cheaper prices and greater accessibility: Konrath believes it is a waste of time and money for a publisher to try fight piracy. If books are cheap and easy to access and purchase (in other words, get rid of proprietary formats), Konrath argues, buyers wouldn’t pirate or steal books.
  • In the future, authors may no longer need publishers: Self-publishing in a digital world is easier than ever, so authors may opt to do their own legwork and keep all the profits for themselves. Konrath is testing this premise by selling his unpublished works in digital form online, and so far he is getting positive results.

Konrath is the first to admit he could be wrong on many points, but he presents a persuasive and interesting conversation. Konrath may not be able to predict the future, but it’s hard to argue with his opinion that the publishing industry is in for some big changes.