Bookazines

April 19th, 2009 | brainjuice

Head-emptying time, somewhat random and unformed as yet, beware:

"Bookazine" is a word I’ve been seeing more and more over the last couple of years. Dennis Publishing, who have been making them since 2004, say:

Essentially a Bookazine is a perfect-bound, magazine-sized soft back book focusing on a particular subject matter. These bookazines are sold on the magazine racks and are priced between £5.99 and £9.99 with production values to reflect this price.

Mortons Media Group, who claim to have created the term, say:

’Bookazine’ (A hybrid of a Book and a Magazine) is a term we have created to describe a glossy, A4 perfect bound (stitched paged) one-off product. Bookazines generally are between 116 and 132 pages, and are all printed on very high quality thick paper, with a glossy cover. Bookazines are specialist titles covering an area or genre, which also contain a small percentage of advertising to make the product more affordable

One-off items, then. But wait. LOFT is a magazine in bookazine format. They’re up to eight volumes.

‘BOOKAZINE’ because we want to create something worth keeping. A symbiosis
between a magazine and a book that goes against the dominant trend of consuming
and throwing away tons and tons of printed matter that we could have easily done
without from the beginning.

The COILHOUSE coven never deviated from the term "magazine" for a moment. I’ve not yet seen a copy of LOFT, but their statement seems right in line with COILHOUSE’s intent — it’s an object of permanence, not transience, and it’s a great big paving slab of a bugger.

When alt.country bible NO DEPRESSION died as a magazine (due, according to reports, to declining ad revenue), the University Of Texas Press stepped in to help reanimate it as a twice-yearly self-described bookazine. (FOLIO on this and other magazines dying of ad starvation)

This led to an illuminating comment by Robert Christgau:

…a long time ago I decided for journalism and against academia in my own career because I believed journalism with its profit motives was more conducive to adventurous thinking and good writing. I’ve done a fair amount of college teaching, in music history as well as writing, and am still willing to generalize that I get more intellectual stimulation from my journalistic friends than from the people I meet in academia–though if I spend all my time in academia I’d presumably get to be more selective. Now journalism as I engaged it turns to the public tit. Something’s off there.

While it might also be suggested that the ad-revenue model is just as big a tit, and more likely to give you some disgusting mouth disease — and while I live in a country where the government essentially paid NEW WORLDS to publish JG Ballard and Thomas Pynchon, so, you know, fuck you — I think maybe there’s another point hiding in there.

One is that the profit motive is not necessarily the same as stickering hooker cards all over your object. I don’t need an internet mediated by Google Ads framing bloody everything. Yes, if you’re doing a mass-market magazine, particularly in this economy, ad sales are probably crucial to maintaining a very large staff. Hell, if you’re going for half the culture like COILHOUSE I’m not going to look askance at a handful of full-page ads that fit the theme. But if you’re doing something like NO DEPRESSION, essentially a niche publication written by and for enthusiasts…

In my head, this sort of wheels around to PrintOnDemand and the unbook. I’m okay with paying ten quid for a biannual or quarterly journal that looks like a book. Given that people who are passionate about things are going to write about them anyway, I see no reason why niche journals run out of people’s front rooms shouldn’t say fuckit and go to POD, relieving themselves of the distribution headache and leaving them to focus on 1) the content and 2) creating awareness. Call it the pro-am solution — sometimes, professional writers just want to write.

(This would also seem to be one obvious end for the sf magazine: ref. Elizabeth Bear equating short sf with the club scene, Electronic Battle Weapon POD. EDITED TO ADD: I’ve just remembered that a fairly well-known speculative fiction magazine IS going to bookazine this year, though I don’t think it’s public knowledge yet)

(Perhaps interestingly, however, NO DEPRESSION can’t generate any kind of revenue from their website and have had to delete its editorial budget.)


12 Responses to “Bookazines”

  1. Damn Warren, you weren’t kidding about the “random and unformed” part were you?

    Also, if you you don’t stop fucking talking about POD, soon everyone will realize how eminently fucking doable the whole thing really is. Fucking stop it would you?

    After your post on PODmag a few weeks ago and an Easter spent debating with family about the future of print media, I’ve come to more or less the same conclusion you reached by the end of your rambling here. That it, creative people will always be creative, be they artists or writers. And if there’s going to be creative output, why not take advantage of POD and birth an interesting physical object that costs you nothing but some time?

    As for so-called “Bookazines” (god what a shitty name) I’ve found that the square-bound (perfect-bound?) format brings people around to the idea of permanence for a work, regardless of its quality, much more than stapled bound ever has or will. Hell, I’d have thrown out your Bad Signal printed collections long ago if they weren’t square-bound.

    See, having been directed to CreateSpace via the comments in your aforementioned PODmag post, a few other like-minded Bay Area artists/writers like myself have gotten together are going to do a “niche journals run out of front rooms” consisting of not only the creative output we’d do for ourselves anyway, but analysis and deconstruction of each others work that’d also happen anyway. Just, y’know, with the analysis actually written down, instead of shouted at each other over alcohol or a bowl.

    Anyway y’bastard, the Small Scale Writer/Artist Anthology starts life this summer thanks in part to your mad drunken ramblings.

    Keep up the good work Warren. And keep the whiskey close at hand.

  2. I swear that comment was formatted in such a way that it was actually fucking readable before I hit submit. I blame you Ellis.

  3. Seems like RE/Search magazine deserves a bit of a hat-tip in this category as well.

  4. Ah, well. I think print is dead.
    http://ebooktest.blogspot.com/2008/12/horror-of-paper-books.html

    I want to see the future as I envisioned it over two years ago (I’ll spare everyone another link here). The eejits finally decide on a universal eBook format and there are plenty of eReading devices. Every website that opts-in has a button that will dynamically reformat that website as a downloadbale eBook and send it to your reading device. Seems like the best of both worlds to me. But that’s just me. My back can’t take evacuating paper any more.

  5. Something similar happening with Vignette’s “Mook” series

    - http://www.vignettepress.com.au/

  6. “I’ve just remembered that a fairly well-known speculative fiction magazine IS going to bookazine this year, though I don’t think it’s public knowledge yet”

    Oh God, is it Interzone? It only hit me when I read your piece that Interzone is probably the proverbial canary in the mine when it comes to good things getting hit by the credit crunch. I hope it isn’t Interzone; I consider that magazine as forming an essential facet of my life between the ages of seventeen and thirty.

    On the other hand, something more permanent than the essentially disposable magazine format might actually be the way forward for Interzone. *If* it’s Interzone.

  7. Japanese publishers have been cranking out mooks for years and years (and if you’re looking for a cutesy magazine/ book name, I choose mook over bookazine anyday :))

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