Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fantastic Planet Blog

Fantastic Planet Blog

Oh, and a few days ago I informed my current employers about FP's commencement of Used book selling--which has always (since Steve and myself first decided to create FP) been a stepping-stone towards a physical bookstore (did I tell you biblio.com has all, or most of, your darkest, cherished SF/F desires?)

It's strange, having ones foot in two planes; the highly unstable (and potentially rewarding) future of FP; and the safe, effortless (eleven years) past with my current employer where I could almost Ninja-like, blind-folded, walk through one of the most elaborate bookstores in the world ( I dare you; come down to Elliott Bay, bind your eyes, and walk--or better yet, skip that and pester us about our physical location)...

I have 11 years of history with that place, and it's not easy; it's easily a third of my life, so striking off in a new direction is, well, crazy.

But I came to EB as an outcast of sorts and somehow have ended up always fighting for the 'underdog' (whether it be a maligned sectionlike Sf/F, employee politics, or--in rare occasions--a hare-brained idea for 'elaborating' the store). It continues...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Live. Um. Electronically speaking

Well, we have our books online, as mentioned before, at biblio.com.
About 350 books. A very nice variety of Sf/F titles (if I say so myself). Sarah has been steadfast in cataloging and uploading the books, even through a recent bout of the Flu (which I have developed--though not due to Sarah!).

I also spent a weekend at Norwescon, the main SF/F convention in the NW. I was only on four panels (this being only my third, and my poor skills at navigating fandom, which dictates the choices). I DO say they were very interesting:

I had one on GENRE distinctions, and whether we still needed them (my basic answer: WTF, kick 'em to the curb!);

Censorship in Movies and books (which was mostly about books, but very well attended, and the PK Dick nominee--and eventual winner-- M. M. Buckner, for "War Surf" /:/ dammit; I just spent 15 minutes trying to search for her website, and all I got waere a bunch of half-arsed gossipy sites linking themselves to AMAZON'S lick-our-coat-tails-for-a-dime-profit sites/stores, etc... /:/ M.M. Buckner was conscientious, precise, and gracious (pre-award), and really, she had a great deal to add to the travails of expression in our modern climate...

"The Cover's just there to Grab your eye" panel; attended by two small press publishers (one of them a self-pub/author, the other a MAGAZINE publisher); suffice to say it was a strange gossip-fest about covers we've seen/wished we didn't, and other people's direct experiences... I have my opinions, after 15 years of bookselling and almost double of art-experience, and I knew we weren't going to achieve our aim in 1 hr.... esp. wiithout an artist and/or art director on the panel ( I have learned that Art directors are antitherical to Artists, therefore QED, our panel sans both...

"Tradeoffs beteeen Security, Freedom, & Privacy" was interesting in the way I approached it: a whisky and a couple of PBRs to the wind. I entereed a room filled with at least 60 people, all leaning slightly forward, eager to express their outrage ath thie Administration (or at least, the quiet loner wanting to say, "Yay, Dubya.."). Whoo-wee. THat was the best time; I never sobered up faster, dealt with more agitated yet cooperative people, ever! It was great! We needed moderatin' (which I took on, 'cause the guy scheduled to do it 'didn't know", blah, whatever), and I took it on... It's a delicate thing, stirring people up, allowing a response, and moving on to cover the totality of the subject. I even squirreled time in for some(gasp!) positive and hopeful comments... I hope everybody left--if not satisfied--at least challenged and thoughtful...

Overall, this years Con, was short'N'dirty in the best way. I've seen many a comment from the other tracks I didn't get to see (sciences, history, and FILK-yes..um...the..filk), that everyone was satisfied with the content and richness of variety.

Anyhow, I'm still a little odd with the whole Con thing since I only started after having an SF/f section as my main reason to interact...

You see, I was basically a solo-nerd; I had no groups I shared my obsessions with (art, comics, Sf/f books/movies, etc.)... I'd become used to internal thoughts and ramblings on the topics. I've always been a socially awkward creature, regardless of Con or, um, ah, well, the opposite--uhh, meeting the Queen of England, say (My side-wise Anglophile experience coming through)...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Building a better brain

Well, it's been over a week since my last post and I actually feel pretty good about the progress we've made since then. Shaun & I've tweaked several things on the site (all of them minor to the eye of the beholder, but to us they're huge); a cleaner link for this blog; we've started listing our used books on Biblio.com; and I've fixed a couple of our reviews in the Prescience section.

I also added information about hunting down out-of-print books for people; which is something my current employer (or most bookstores) don't do, with the internet being so accessible and whatnot. But sometimes the action for used books happens off of the web; in the goodwills, the estate sales, the library sales... We're envisioning a want list, basically, so that when we do go to these events and gatherings we can whip out the list and get it. We love catering to that completist obsession; we know, each of us is obsessed about collecting all of a particular thing. So we can sympathize. Also, it's the addiction to the noise people make when you tell them you have that book that they've been searching for for years....

The used books are a temporary thing; we want to sell new books, but there are several stages to completing that goal (all of which we've just started); bank loan, physical space, agreements with the distributors (and in time) directly with the publishers.

We have to establish good credit and to do that we have to start with the distributors (Ingram, Baker & Taylor) and then after a couple of months we can approach the publishers.

Our physical location depends on serendipity; the timing of the loan with the availability of a space in the neighborhoods we're interested in (Ballard and Greenwood). The primary reason for both those areas is that they are almost equi-distant from my current employer and the University Bookstore; we know it would be foolish to step near their territories (even though Steve and I helped build the SF section at the former). Also, the areas aren't so crazy with the real estate hikes going on in the other two. For now, so we know we have to act soon.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Already learning stuff...

Having accidentally blogged under the login of our intrepid designer Shaun, I am now rectifying this by posting under my login.

(perhaps you didn't need to know that...)

I'm spending my Sunday chipping away at the various little things that are necessary to keep the FP website moving in the direction Shaun and I envisioned.

I've got 60GB of music on shuffle-play, coffee and (for when my caffeine level is too crazy) beer.

We (and I mean the whole team, Steve Sarah, Shaun and myself), have always believed that developing a website ahead of the physical bookstore was a great way to drum up attention for us and well and allowing FP to become a part of the web community. Individually, we have presences on the web (separate websites, Livejournal, Friendster and myspace, etc.), but as an organization, FP needs its identity.

We only pay the cost of webspace to advance advertise our endeavor, and we get to express our opinions and talents without the crazy hassle of rent (we know it's coming, we must bite the bullet eventually...But for now...).

We'll be selling used and rare & collectible books soon through abebooks, and in a month or so (hoping we can get that starter loan we're working on), we'll have new books.

But all in good time..

I plan to post soon about an amazing book that I've read (as well as other books of recent note) called Vellum, by Hal Duncan, due out this summer here in the U.S. But I must make food, and ponder how to best explain Vellum to the uninitiated.

Fantastic Planet Blog--the beginning

Fantastic Planet Blog

Well, a blank page is always intimidating, whether it's wood-pulp or electronic. And who knows the best place to start with a project like this, that encompasses many facets of publishing and business?

What's best, I guess, is a summary of why we're doing this blog:

Fantastic Planet Books started out as a pipe dream for Steve and I, and finally one day we decided were tired of building upon someone else's legacy (The Elliott Bay Book Company--a great bookstore, but we'd out-grown it), and began the push towards making FP a reality.
It's been a year now since we started, and after some setbacks (and appropriately a hibernation period last Fall/Winter), we're back on track with the creation of the store.

But it's not just the store that we're building here. We've taken the zine I created back in the mid-90s, Prescience, and retooled it for the internet age.
We'll be bringing the archived articles and art from Prescience to the site, as well as adding new reviews, articles and art as time goes on.

We also wanted to have a forum where we chronicled our experiences with the creation of a small Indie bookstore, especially in this mega-corporation culture. We also wanted to be able to rant on occasion about the frustrations, conundrums and joys that will inevitably pop up.

That's it. Simply. For now. As time goes on I'm sure Steve, Sarah and I (along with our web designer extraordinaire, Shaun) will have more enlightening things to say but for now,