Saturday, July 18, 2009

"You Don't Break a Bottle of Champagne on an Airplane"

I recently wrote an essay that I called 'The Revenge of Print,' the title of which I took from a pair of issues of Punk Planet magazine (Issues #55 and #75). The first such issue came out in the summer of 2003 and had great features on Iggy Scam, McSweeneys, and an article by Akashic Book's Johnny Temple called 'Publish Now!' in which he says, "Book publishing has never been so accessible to the non-rich, largely as a result of developments in computer software. The demand for new publishers is great as too many excellent ideas and books are never made to the public." Johnny goes so far as to include his email address, offering to "pass along great manuscripts."

Eliza and I were living in San Diego at the time, and had just finished reading Andre Schiffrin's The Business of Books, which provided the initial flood of inspiration to form Two Dollar Radio. Having become recently acquainted with their house, I was spending most of my bartending tips gobbling up everything Akashic had published in the last seven years. I loved their Urban Surreal Series, and I particularly loved Arthur Nersesian's Manhattan Loverboy (which is still in my all-time Top 10). I wrote to Johnny, who was kind enough - despite it being nearly two years after the Punk Planet article ran - to provide us with some of the "great manuscripts" that we ended up publishing.
Punk Planet was one of the few magazines that I read cover to cover, word for word. Their tagline, "notes from underground," said it all. I was really disappointed when they went under in 2007, but it's been nice to see them continue to take part in the community they helped build through their book imprint at Akashic and their website.

Now, the man behind Punk Planet, Dan Sinker, is working on a project that he calls 'CellStories,' which are short stories that can be read on your cellphone. While Sinker admits to "nostalgia" for the print form, he asserts that CellStories "embodies not only what's fast, efficient, and ecological in new media but much of what was sensual in the old." And, I'm sure, if the guy's track record is any indication, they are sure to be really, really good.

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