Category: Commentary

Self-Publishing on Anime/Manga – Part 2

In my previous post, I discussed the standard way of publishing one’s writing – through a for-profit publishing company or non-profit university press – and the alternative of self-publishing. But, are those the only options open to someone who is interested in writing a book on a topic related to anime/manga, and getting that book into libraries and/or to readers?

As of right now, largely yes. But potentially, there are other options. Publishing, after all, is a combination of a technical or industrial process and a business model. Until recently, the technical process needed the business model – publishing a book cost money, and more money than an individual could commit. Print-on-demand and electronic distribution of books has made the technical process a lot easier to deal with. The business model that involves submission or commissioning, peer review and editing, and finally, promotion and distribution is harder to work around through technology alone. The whole point of a publishing house is not just to operate the printing or production machinery, it’s to organize and package knowledge.

And, to think of it, there is no objective reason for there not to be a “third way” between working with an established publisher, and self-publishing. The solution that Jonathan Gray (Media and Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison) proposes is of “publishing collectives” – that is, groups of scholars (or anybody else interested creating and distributing knowledge in a particular area of study or about a particular topic) taking control of publishing from established publishers.

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Thoughts on Self-Publishing on Anime/Manga

What are the options that an author interested in publishing a full-length book on anime/manga can reasonably pursue? And are publishers actually interested in books on anime/manga? The easy answer seems to be ‘yes’ – or at least, some publishers certainly are. Palgrave Macmillan, one of the most prominent English-language corporate/for-profit publishing houses, has published Susan Napier’s Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke (2001) and From Impressionism to Anime: Japan as Fantasy and Fan Culture in the Eyes of the West) (2007), Steven Brown’s Tokyo Cyberpunk: Posthumanism in Japanese Visual Culture (2010) and just earlier this month, a new edition of Brian Ruh’s Stray Dog of Anime: The Films of Mamoru Oshii. Non-profit university presses that may consider a book on Japanese animation or comics include the University Press of Mississippi (God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga, 2009), the University of Hawaii Press (Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shojo Manga, 2011), and the University of Minnesota Press (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation, 2009). The University of Iowa Press, which recently launched a line of books specifically on “fan studies” is certainly worth keeping in mind as well. And of course, beyond those two types of publishers, there are also the smaller companies like M.E. Sharpe, Edwin Mellen, Stone Bridge Press, with a long tradition of publishing books about Japan, Open Court Publishing, Kamera Books, and various others.

But is going the “traditional” route the only way to go? Is it possible for an author to self-publish a book on Japanese animation or Japanese comics? What kinds of challenges would a self-publishing author face? And are there other, alternate ways beyond either working with an established publishing house, or self-publishing?

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Anime and Manga Studies in 2013 in Numbers

Trying to ask what exactly is meant by an academic discipline, field or area is a question that is almost so broad as to be meaningless. Of course, it’s still a question that is asked plenty of times – as, for example, Paul Ward does in Animation studies, disciplinarity and discursitivity (Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 3:2). But one way to at least begin asking this question is to operationalize it – to move away from what a field is, and towards the question of what do those working in this field actually do, and how. There is a general answer – scholars in a particular field think about particular topics, work with particular materials, answer particular questions. And there is an answer that is even more specific – scholars in a particular field produce knowledge that takes specific – and quantifiable – forms. And one way to gain at least some understanding of any particular academic field is by looking at how that field produces knowledge.

At the very basic level, this means examining a particular field’s “research output”, “publication patterns” or “publishing behavior”. That is, what kind of writing is expected of scholars in the field? Does it take the form of journal articles, book chapters, stand-alone books? And what are the proportions of each of those type of output to each other? A typical example of this kind of question and analysis is Huang and Chang’s Characteristics of research output in social sciences and the humanities.

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Who is Dani Cavallaro? – Part 2

Part 1

At this point, what do we definitely know about Dani Cavallaro? She is the author of at least 22 books, including 13 on anime. These books are available at many academic libraries – the OCLC FirstSearch database indicates that more than 500 own copies of The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki. And her work has been acknowledged by other scholars. But what do we know about Dani Cavallaro the person? What is her academic background? How is she actually qualified to write about Japanese animation and comics?

And, more importantly, how have readers evaluated her work?

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Who is Dani Cavallaro? – Part 1

When looking at any academic field, one particular feature that’s worth examining is who exactly are the prominent – prolific and highly-cited – authors in this field. What colleges are they affiliated with, what are their positions and job titles, how did they end up where they are. In anime and manga studies, a few prominent names come to mind right away – Fred Schodt, Susan Napier, Antonia Levi, Thomas Lamarre. And one more name that certainly comes up often enough is Dani Cavallaro.

At first glance, it should be easy to assume that Cavallaro is a scholar of the same caliber as someone like Napier – and maybe even more. And if pure quantity of published writing is anything to go by, she is certainly worth noticing. Amazon lists her as the author of 22 books . 13 of them, from last year’s Japanese Aesthetics and Anime, and goign back to 2006’s The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki, are specifically on Japanese animation. In terms of individual books authored, this makes her the single most productive scholar currently writing on anime in English.

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Where is the scholarship on the U.S. anime industry?

The new March 2014 issue of the journal Pacific Affairs features, as one of the articles in its East Asian Cultural Industries special section, a paper by Nissim Otmazgin (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) on Anime in the US: The entrepreneurial dimensions of globalized culture. The article’s abstract summarizes it as one that “[d]rawing on interviews with Japanese and American key personnel in the anime industry, field research and market surveys…focuses on the organizational aspect of the anime market in the United States since the mid-1990s, with particular attention to the role of entrepreneurs.” I am going through the article right now, and will probably have some comments on it in the next few days, but just looking at the title and the abstract brings up one question that I’ve always found interesting.

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Anime: A History – A Review Round-Up

Fred Schodt wrote Manga! Manga!, the first English-language book on Japanese comics, more than 30 years ago. Easily several dozen “books on anime/manga” have been published since – and I have made the argument that by looking at these books, it’s possible to trace the evolution of anime and manga studies – how authors write about these topics, and more importantly, what authors hope to achieve – from 30 years ago to now.

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Looking for – and finding – new writing on anime

Looking at anime and manga studies as a field requires paying attention to several things and asking several specific questions. Who are the some of the people writing on anime/manga. Are they mostly tenured/tenure-track professors, adjuncts, graduate students, “independent scholars”? What kinds of programs are they affiliated with? What kinds of degrees do they hold? For that matter, where does “anime and manga studies” actually live – or rather, what form do the end products of anime/manga studies actually take?

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Familiar names, familiar titles – but new books!

Just as anime in the U.S. is not nearly as “hot” or popular as it was in, say, 2006, the “size” or breadth of anime studies as a field has diminished significantly from a few years ago. For example, in 2010, there were at least 215 new scholarly publications on anime, manga and related topics – compared to 90 last year. But nonetheless, authors are still writing about anime – and in fact, two authors whose names should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has followed how anime studies has developed in the U.S. are both about to publish a pair of full-length books!

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