Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Night Shade and Prime Books in the Philippines

In the past few years, my tastes as an SF&F fan has slowly been shifting from mainstream titles to some of the more critical releases (but I still very much enjoy both). Unfortunately, situated out here in the Philippines, well, finding more of the latter in the shelves of local bookstores is highly unlikely.

There has always been two options for die-hard bibliophiles. One is to order the books online but I don't have a credit card and shipping costs can be quite expensive. I usually limit such purchases such as when I can leech off a friend going to the US or a relative. The other alternative is to special order them from bookstores. Now ordering from bookstores has worked out quite well for me except lately it's been turning out to be more expensive, especially since the devaluation of the dollar (the costs for ordering books is the same as it was last year despite the strengthening of the peso).

But last year, I was spoiled. Powerbooks started stocking titles from non-mainstream publishers like Night Shade Books and Prime Books. I was devouring titles like The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume One; Black Thorn, White Rose; Fantasy: Best of the Year 2007; Science Fiction: Best of the Year 2007; Hart & Boot & Other Stories. Because the bookstore stocked them and weren't special orders, their price remained competitive.

Now my dilemma is because I have no control over what the local bookstore stocks or will stock, I have no idea whether they'll continue the trend. Publishers like Tor and Del Rey, I'm 75% sure that the local bookstores will acquire their titles. But Night Shade and Prime Books? Recently paid a visit to the bookstore and I haven't seen sightings of the new Rich Horton anthologies.

Now I was listening to Rick Kleffel's interview with Jeremy Lassen, publisher of Night Shade Books, on bookselling and distribution. One thing Lassen mentioned was that their current distributor is Diamond Books. Now Diamond Books is under the Diamond Comics imprint, which is the same distributor most comic book shops in the Philippines use. I checked their list of clients and aside from Night Shade Books, Wild Side Press (the parent company of Prime Books) is also under Diamond Books.

I checked with Vin, and apparently, you can order those books from Comic Quest. Yes, it's strange, ordering books from comic shops (which I think is a nice juxtaposition considering I get some of my comics from bookstores). The fact that they're currently operating on a $1.00 = P50.00 exchange rate ain't bad either (it's certainly a better rate than what I'm getting at A Different Bookstore). And while you might think I'm biased opting for Comic Quest (because I'm the guy who updates their blog), well, theoretically you can get the same stuff from other comic shops. But when was the last time you saw non-comic related books on the shelves of comic stores? Filbar's has a secondhand book market true but as far as SF&F books, not really. The other comic shops simply concentrate on their comics and manga, and to some extent, their gaming materials (CCGs, random miniatures, etc.) but that's it. Comic Quest has been the only comic shop that aside from the offerings of other comic shops, sells RPGs, board games, and yes, books.

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