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Ooligan Press Masters Marketing

posted February 17, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling books marketing publishing

classroom_publishingI’m always interested to see what Ooligan Press, the student-run publishing house of Portland State University’s master’s in publishing program, is up to. One of its current projects is the launch of Classroom Publishing: A Practical Guide for Teachers. Though the book will not be available in bookstores until March 2010, the marketing for it has been underway for quite some time. This is a good lesson for us here at Thomas Riggs & Company, as it teaches us it’s never too early to start publicizing a book.

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Only in Japan: The Twitter Novel

posted February 8, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in publishing social media trends


A while back I mentioned the popularity of cell phone novels in Japan, the land of the tiny and compact. Well, now the rage seems to be the Twitter novel. It’s probably not really possible to write an entire novel in 140 characters, even if they do happen to be information-packed Chinese characters, but it is certainly an interesting concept, and bully for the Japanese for trying! It is likely that most Twitter novelists serialize their novels.

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Books in the Wild. It’s Hunting Season!

posted August 20, 2009

Posted by Thomas Riggs in books

The message was simple and soft and alluring. And since I was in France, it was also in French.

Allons voir plus loin, veux-tu? Voir la mer, la baie des anges et ses palmiers . . . un peu plus loin, de l’autre coté du Musée Masséna.

Translated into our more accented English, it said,

Let’s go see farther. Do you want to? See the sea, the Bay of Angels and its palm trees . . . a little farther, on the other side of the Masséna Museum.

Nice, Musee Massena

Musée Masséna by DrOMM via Flickr

Musée Masséna? That’s in Nice, where I live, so how could I say no?

I had never met the person who wrote the note. In fact, I read the message on, a website that promotes “free range books.” The idea is simple: read a book, and afterward, instead of putting it to rest on your bookshelf, set it free. The site gives suggestions.

Leave it on a park bench, a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym – anywhere it might find a new reader!

When I found the listing for Allons voir plus loin, veux-tu? by Anny Duperey, I saw there were almost 800 books “in the wild” in France, all waiting for someone to find them. In the United States there were some 10,000 books left in parks, coffee shops, and other random places.

The site also lets readers post notes about books before passing them on to someone else. This copy of Allons voir plus loin, veux-tu? began in Feins, Bretagne, in the north of France. It then traveled to nearby Pléneuf-Val-André before heading south to Lyon and finally Nice in southeastern France, where a reader left a rather uninspired recommendation: “Enfin je ne sais pas pourquoi j’avais envie de lire ce livre! . . . mais j’ai passé un bon moment” (”In fact, I don’t know why I felt like reading this book! . . . but I had a good time”).

After reading the note, I decided it was my turn to “passer un bon moment.” Fortunately there was one more clue: “Livre laissé côté rue de France, sur les grilles du Musée” (”book left on the side of rue de France, on the gate of the museum”). As I was going to a concert that evening not far from the museum, I decided to “go hunting,” as the site says.

The museum is a stone’s throw from the sea and next to the famous Hotel Negresco, where, as one site claims, Claudia Schiffer, Orson Welles, and Michael Jackson all stayed. But rue de France is one street in from the sea, and at night, when I arrived, it seemed desolate. A light breeze was pushing around a plastic sack. I was wearing headphones, listening to the French pop singer Bénabar, and reached my hand through the gate to search through a thick stretch of shrubbery. I must have seemed like a thief or a homeless person.

After a while, something didn’t seem right.

I looked around and across the street. Two prostitutes stood waiting for tourists. A flic, as cops are called here, sped by on a motorcycle. Great, I thought. This is all fine, and I don’t mind the weirdness, but someone already took the book.

Hope for Book Publishing

posted June 8, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in publishing

Dave Eggers - National Book Critics Circle at ...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Everyone these days seems to be talking about the death of book publishing. Everyone, that is, except McSweeney’s. Leave it to McSweeney’s to bring a little sunshine to the darkness. There seem to be quite a few haters out there, but hey, I like McSweeney’s; I love how innovative and creative they are, and you know, they seem to be having fun. There are some things on the McSweeney’s website that make me laugh out loud.

But I digress. Recently Dave Eggers of McSweeney’s said he would send a personal e-mail to anyone who was saddened by the sorry state of publishing (i.e., that print is dead) and needed cheering up. The Gawker published the e-mail, in which Eggers discusses the survivability of both newspaper and book publishing. Following are a few excerpts:

“We’re a hand-to-mouth operation to be sure, but we haven’t had to lay anyone off. To some extent, that’s because we’re small and independent and have always insisted on staying small and independent. We take on very little risk, and we grow very cautiously. It’s our humble opinion that the world will support many more publishers of our size and focus. If you can stay small, stay independent, readers will be loyal, and you’ll be able to get by publishing work of merit.”

“To survive, the newspaper, and the physical book, needs to set itself apart from the web. Physical forms of the written word need to offer a clear and different experience. And if they do, we believe, they will survive. Again, this is a time to roar back and assert and celebrate the beauty of the printed page. Give people something to fight for, and they will fight for it. Give something to pay for, and they’ll pay for it.”

Here at Thomas Riggs & Company we are venturing into this new and somewhat unfamiliar world of literary publishing, and I find it heartening and reassuring to read Eggers’ words. Give it up for the printed word!

The Rise and Fall of Cell Phone Literature

posted May 11, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in uncategorized

There’s a lot of talk about the decline of the publishing industry and how people don’t read books anymore, but one country where reading appears to be alive and thriving is Japan. Part of this may be attributed to the popularity of cell phone novels, books written on cell phones. Anyone with a cell phone and a desire to share a story can upload their novels onto various community websites such as Maho no i-rando for readers to download onto their cell phones. Many of these novels are serialized, with chapters or even single sentences uploaded one at a time, and readers can leave comments about how they think the novel should progress.

So why the popularity of cell phone literature in Japan? Talking on cell phones in public areas such as on trains or buses is generally not allowed, and thus text messaging has become the primary activity. Japanese people spend a lot of time on public transportation in frequently crowded conditions, so the compact size and portability of the cell phone makes it an ideal vessel for various media.

Cell phone novels, known as keitai shosetsu in Japanese, have been in Japan for some ten years now, but they didn’t skyrocket into the mainstream until the late 2000s. Most popular with women in their teens and twenties, the unedited novels tend to gravitate toward themes of sex, love, and violence.

Now many of the popular cell phone novels are published in paper form and sold in traditional bookstores. Book distributor Tohan claims that by 2007 cell phone literature commanded a $240 million market in Japan. There is even an annual Japan Keitai Novel Award with cash prizes.

But in trend-obsessed Japan there are reports the cell phone novel has passed its primebefore the phenomenon has even reached the United States.