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I'm doing a little roundup of print-and-paper today, because it's something I'm fond of, in a retro-sentimental sort of way. I'm particularly interested in print's Unique Sales Proposition in the digital age; what it has to offer post-internet, or alongside-but-distinct-from-internet... if anything? When I "make myself scarce" by ending this blog on February 10th 2010, for instance, will I "graduate" from free to paid, purchasable, print-only writing?



That's what Momo Nonaka (right, above) seems to have done. Momo is an old friend, and from the 90s to the mid-noughties her blog Tigerlily made her one of Japan's best-known culture-bloggers. Now Momo is concentrating on print, and specifically zines. Tigerlily has become a paper magazine store called Lilmag. Momo is using the internet to distribute -- and blog about distributing -- her mags, but the products themselves are made of pure post-internet paper.

My alongside-internet, print-only novel The Book of Jokes gets an interesting review in the January edition of American literary review The Believer. Although The Believer is primarily a print publication, you can read Justin Taylor's review online. The reviews editor has tried an interesting "read-without-prejudice" experiment, sending Taylor my book without its cover or title pages, its spine blacked-out with a sharpie, and a ban on all googling. The result is a review I'm tempted to call "disorienteered", but also a satisfyingly context-free take on a wedge of paper, which is what a book finally is. This review doesn't rewrite the press release, but simply lets the unfolding text lead the reviewer through revulsion, amusement, disorientation, and trains of personal association. It's something I tried myself recently when I wrote a Playground column describing step-by-step my real-time discovery of a band called Hecuba. Taylor links my Book of Jokes to Lynne Tillman, a writer I met a couple of times in London in the 80s, via mutual friends, and who's apparently also written a book based on jokes (1999's No Lease on Life).

Turning to newspapers, the Israeli daily Haaretz mentions me today. Swiss "pop literature" writer Christian Kracht, in an interview with the paper, quotes the whole lyric to my song Germania, which, as I recall, was an attempt to channel a Germanic sensibility I'd found in art by Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys, and imagery from the poems of Paul Celan and Rainer Maria Rilke. Kracht is one of my most important print mentors -- he published my debut short story 7 Lies About Holger Hiller in literary review Der Freund in 2004, and he's the executive editor of the German edition of The Book of Jokes, which will appear this autumn on the Blumenbar / Buenos Aires imprint. More paper!

There's less paper in the world thanks to the official closure last month of ID magazine, the American design magazine to which I contributed regularly. I even managed to get a young Norwegian graphic design collective called Yokoland onto the cover. ID was great to write for, because they paid a dollar a word. This time last year I managed to live for about three months on their fees for three or four easy-to-write articles. The magazine's closure seems to reflect the axiom that anything the internet can do better than print, it will do better than print. Designers are well-served now by design blogs, which they expect to read free online.



Japanese magazines are still my favourite form of print (and since I can't read them, that must mean that print has some sort of talismanic-fetishistic quality for me). In the photo above (Tsutaya's "recommended titles" shelf) you can see the camera jyoshi mags called Phat and Snap. A camera jyoshi is a young woman who's obsessed with cameras and photography. She's about 22, possibly an art student. She usually has an elegant retro model of camera (she prefers film to digital) which may or may not be covered with stickers (as Ume Kayo's is). The only thing she likes more than photography is sitting in old cafes eating the tasty lunch set and leafing through old magazines, or traveling in other Asian countries. Hisae -- essentially a camera jyoshi herself (her photos grace the current edition of Apartamento magazine) -- flipped enviously through Phat and Snap and told me that there weren't all these titles for camera jyoshis when she was in her early 20s. Magazines must be doing something right if they're diversifying titles about obscure dead-tech hobbies.

I showed Maggie from street fashion / interview blog Broad&Market a Japanese mag called Tokyo Graffiti, and we both went into raptures over its current edition. "This is the perfect magazine for me," said Maggie, leafing through pages showing people stopped on the street to talk about what they're wearing, or holding up Gillian-Wearingesque signs stating their worries about the world, or sitting in their bedrooms describing their decoration preferences. Tokyo Graffiti -- which features almost no advertising, though it may be doing some subtle product placement, for all I know -- is the ultimate vox pop magazine, and so far no blog can provide enough research, content, context and detail to endanger it. But after flipping through the whole of Tokyo Graffiti in the act of intellectual shoplifting called tachiyomi ("standing and reading"), Maggie and I -- blogger pirates both -- replaced the mag on the recommended shelf unbought, took a snap of the cover, and resolved to blog about it. Paper is doomed.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 08:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twissie.livejournal.com
I WAS IN TOKYO GRAFFITI A FEW YEARS AGO!!!

Image (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiichigo/2206246092/)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 10:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] imomus.livejournal.com
Sugoy! (To person vox popped in Tokyo Graffiti.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 08:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] milky-eyes.livejournal.com
my head hurts, I just want a nice massage from mama-san and forget about everything.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 09:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] butterflyrobert.livejournal.com
Wait, you're ending your blog on February 10? Take some time away from the internet and you miss everything! Except some of what's in print, I guess.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 12:31 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
The idea was he wanted to write in the net but not in blog format (i.e. not daily, and without comments); an idea I applaud.

But if he moves to print, I will lose my momus :( I live in a poor third-world country, I can’t afford expensive imported oldmedia.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 10:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] butterflyrobert.livejournal.com
It would have been neat if he had found a pseudo-momus to pretend to be him as long as possible on the blog. How long would pseudo-momus have escaped detection?

And to think, I never got to start bragging on here about my own amazing Japanese girlfriend!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 01:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] viceanglais.livejournal.com
Will I "graduate" from free to paid, purchasable, print-only writing?

I'd think bigger. Demand the impossible. Start a political party. The world has enough journalists complaining about dirty carbon footprints on felled and transported trees. And there's probably enough left-brain analysis to pour cold water over the next, oh, hundred years.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brokenjunior.livejournal.com
or will we be able to read from you on an "iSlate" then in the (near) future?
whatever mode of distribution that will be then...

Image

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 02:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cap-scaleman.livejournal.com
Why will it only have a 5 hour battery capacity? I think that might make it a bit unattractive since many people like to bring their books or mags anywhere anytime without the need to bring a battery charger.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
They ought to make it solar powered

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 03:19 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lord-whimsy.livejournal.com
I'll be interested to see how long these i-readers cling to the old book format.

Handsome thing. Pity about the short battery life.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-07 02:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] milky-eyes.livejournal.com
the 5hr battery life almost makes this things usefulness nil... 5 hrs is just enough time to keep ones focues on how much life is left until I have to plug this thing in again. Not very portable.

I'm by no means a luddite, but the end of paper or even talk of the end of paper... and seeing the records shops go... makes me sad.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
'Paper is doomed.'

Haha,
i just watched Fahrenheit 451 (a weirdly awkward film) and immediately afterward saw this.

Of course here its not 'books' that are doomed, only papery media things- Or is it?
I wonder how electronic distribution and presentation will affect the next ten years of books. I don't think i'd want to read a 600 page novel electronically yet.

I have vague visions of books becoming more like wikipedia articles, or shorter, or serial blog posts. I seem to remember a 'future of the book' conference though at which momus defended the tangible pulpy papyrus against the admitted squalor of ugly horrid project Guttenberg type ebooks (i must add i recently discovered the minor joys of making my own PDF editions). Won't (or shouldn't?) the content have some relationship with, some effect on, its medium?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-07 09:19 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If Momus is right then literature will become as everything has become in this world - it will be produced and consumed by people who don't give a shit about it. The people who do give a shit will be marginalised and silenced.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-01-06 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ak- pithed to the post by Whimsy

Freudian slip

Date: 2010-01-07 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sorry to be a pedantic proof-reader, but my favourite moment in this entry was when you say that Christian Kracht published your first story in Der Freud in 2004. The good Herr Doktor would have liked it too, I tihink.

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