One self-publisher's digital survival plan

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elmer alanguilan One self publisher's digital survival planFilipino comics artist/self-publisher Gerry Alanguilan (Elmer), was supposed to deliver an address at a symposium called “Future of the Book” but he was forced to bow out, so instead he posted his speech for all of us to read. While reading the whole thing is the best way to approach it, the gist can be conveyed. Although Alanguilan is basically married to the idea of print publishing, he thinks it can exist with digital:

WASTED is the title of a comic book that I created from 1994 to 1996. It has gone through several editions in print, the first edition coming out in 1998 through Alamat Comics. In 2000 it was serialized for several months in Pulp Magazine. In 2002, Pulp Magazine published another compiled edition. A few years later, Wasted went out of print. In 2007, I decided to upload Wasted completely online, including a DVD-like commentary for each page at Webcomicsnation.com. It allowed a lot more people to read it, specially those from abroad.

But then, a strange thing happened. I still get letters and emails to this day from people looking for copies of Wasted. I always point out that they can read the entire thing for FREE online. The reaction is almost unanimous and immediate: No, we want to buy the print edition. There is not a comics convention that goes by (and believe it or not, we have something like six or seven of those a year here in the Philippines) that people don’t ask me for a copy of Wasted. The demand has grown so much that I’ve put it in the front burner of my company’s publishing schedule.


Another vote for free sampling.

Comments

  1. hmmm… publishers NOW are surviving on small print runs of 1,000 copies. Even in a digital world where paper books are relegated to the status of vinyl LPs, there will still be enough readers who prefer a bound paper book. The book might be print-on-demand, but it will still be viable.

    (Heh… the Small Press Expo might evolve into a craft fair, of people publishing antiquated paper copies. How soon before people start learning book binding, hand-sewing signatures with a Coptic binding, using art paper… Yes, you laugh, but the last panel of SPX this year was about using old-school printmaking techniques, like hand engraving.)

  2. In this world where everyone knows how to click things, (texting, keyboarding, mouse, pushing a photocopier button…)an old “obsolete” skill will become valued.
    There isn’t an app for it.

  3. Personally, I would love to see small press going more traditional with hand-bound books and engraving. It gives me hope that obsolete technologies can always be revived as an art form.

  4. I think it’s important to note that Gerry is speaking for the Philippine publishing industry. Not everyone has Internet here, much less do they have the money to get something like an iPad. Heck, I have a regular job, and I can’t afford an iPad.

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