Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A time to be thankful

We've got a lot to be grateful for this season, despite our economic woes and the growing preference for screens and 'zines over tomes. Americans seem to want gravitas in everything except what they read. 

But things could be worse, I suppose. McCain could have won. But he didn't, so in January there'll be one less turkey in Washington. One could tell the departing foul (sic) to get stuffed, or just flip him a bird on the way out. 

But why be mean-spirited? Let's enjoy family and friends and all the things in our lives that we like, and let's be grateful for all the people who have gone out of their way this year to give us a kind word, a pat on the back, a hot meal. 

For those who want to explore the web of their relationships with others, I encourage them to look at Gregg Krech's fascinating book about Naikan, a Japanese form of psychotherapy that explores not the self alone but the self in society. In our more crowded world and amid a growing sense of interdependence and mutual concern, it's important to understand not justwhat makes me me, but what makes me and you us. For more about naikan, visit the Todo Institute. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"A good night for the English language"

So glad I dipped into James Wood's wonderful parsing of Obama's speechifying in this week's New Yorker. Since Obama's election I've watched You Tube and other postings of Obama's oratory, in particular his fabulous treatise on race in America last spring and his acceptance speech in Chicago. I"ve listened to these two speeches a couple times, yet still I get chills and now, with his victory, even teary-eyed. George never made me cry, only cry out, and Sarah made me wince. But listening to Obama, I get carried off on a near-dreamlike sea of rhetoric and meaning, and feel connected once again to my own past, my country, my civilization. 

Wood's article analyzes the magic behind the power of Obama to move. It's magic, yes, but not a trick or a fabrication. While Obama  of course, like any great orator, weaves together words, rhythms, and images, he shows himself to be more a master allusionist, an exploiter of phrases that resonate through the American subconscious. "By the people, for the people" is maybe the most obvious example. Wood also points to Obama's clever archaism of "where we are met with cynicism" echoing Lincoln's "met on a great battlefield," and his use of the word "promise" to evoke the "promised land" that MLK claimed to see on the eve of his assassination. Barack being smart, and gifted, it is no coincidence that he is drinking from the well of these two leaders, both of whom have become iconic vessels of our nation's yearning for both heroes and salvation.

It's great to see smart language in a public place. And it's great to see powerful oratory used to generate hope instead of fear. I'm basically a words-on-the-page guy, but when it comes to making sweet music out of language, Obama's got my vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Exploring Kyoto called “the ideal travel guide”

Midwest Book Review’s “Wisconsin Bookwatch” gives Judith Clancy’s updated guidebook Exploring Kyoto high praise, calling it “a superbly written and thoroughly ‘user friendly‘ guide to what this beautiful city and its surrounding countryside have to offer,” and declaring it “the ideal travel guide.“

Now I know that since Yohan’s demise it has been hard finding this book in Japan, but I’m told that you can get it at Junkudo Kyoto, Kyoto Handicraft Center, Shin Miyako Hotel, Book First Kyoto, with more shops to come. Anyone heading to Japan this fall or in the coming months will absolutely love this book, and it will open the city up to you in ways no other guidebook can. (Japan bookstores: Get your act together already!! Readers — and publishers— are getting impatient!!)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Big Interview with Fred Schodt in Electric Ant!

SAME HAT! SAME HAT! This “weekly manga commentary, featuring horror, gag & erotic-grotesque nonsense” reports that the new zine Electric Ant http://electricantzine.com/ features a long interview with Fred Schodt, author of Manga! Manga, Dreamland Japan! , and The Astro Boy Essays (among other fine works about Japan and Japanese culture). Look for Electric Ant on your local newsstand or wherever fine ‘zines are sold!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Oprah Romances Kindle and Kills Off Beauty

Linda the Designer (no relation to Joe the Plumber) was bemoaning how Oprah came out last week and announced her love for the artless cold aesthetic of the Kindle. The woman who singlehandedly made books relevant to the lives of millions of daytime TV watchers and generated untold millions of dollars for big US book publishers has told her audience to stop, don't buy a book, think of the trees you'll be saving instead by downloading everything you need onto a little plastic and silicon brick.

You get one font, but in lots of sizes! Text can be justified or not, your choice! That whole notion of giving life to the text by allowing room to breathe on the page, or suggesting an elegant argument with a classic typeface? Well, fuggadeboutit. The only thing a "designer" has to "design" now is how to deliver a pdf to the kindlemaker.

Am I unhappy? Not entirely. It'll be good to save the cost of fuel, not to mention the occasional tree. No more happy UPS delivery screwups!

But I'll miss the look and feel of the book, and the unique personality given it by its designer. With fewer aesthetic qualities to interfere with the message, maybe language will become more about content and less about the vehicle of transmission.

I suppose that could apply to human interactions as well. We say that we judge people on their deeds and their words, but that's not entirely true. We need to see and touch other humans to take their measure, to see if they're a good fit, believable, appealing, whatever. It'll be a while before a human kindle stirs Oprah into a froth of ecstasy, but I bet that day is not too far off.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's Sunday, thinking about wisdom and leadership

Okay, students, this question comes from this year's SAT: visual pattern recognition.

Of the three figures shown in the photo, which one does not belong with the other two?

(Quiz courtesy of Stone Bridge Press, your source for crazy wisdom.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ideas for authors to boost their visibility and power

I don’t usually do this, but I want to advise all authors (in particular Stone Bridge authors) that they click on the headline link or here to read a very succinct summary by Stephanie Chandler of things you can do to increase your online visibility and, ultimately, your sales and earnings. Very good stuff, and a fine “meta-ironic” example of an online article doing exactly what it is recommending to others. (Published on the Publishing Basics site.)

And it has also occurred to me . . . Why is it not enough to have just a book these days? Just a book! The market does demand it, but isn’t it a bit tiresome to keep drilling down and through the internet blogs and discussion groups and featured websites until there is nothing left to learn? Knowledge is an addiction; once you “like“ something it’s hard to stop pursuing it. Beyond a certain point, the whole viral marketing/blogosphere/webcentric hoohah may be just a non-nutritive excercise in feeding the brain’s sweet tooth.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Murakami at Berkeley this weekend; lecture + symposium

This past spring we published A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World. This book was compiled and edited by The Japan Foundation and contains an introduction by Jay Rubin as well as essays by Richard Powers, Shozo Fujii, Roland Kelts, and others, as well as a special essay on translation by Haruki Murakami. We're happy to announce that the book has been very well received, and we are now about to reprint it. (Copies may be in short supply, but should still be available on Amazon and in the bookshops that were farsighted enough to order them in the first place!)

And now, if you live in or near Berkeley, California, you can experience the Murakami phenomenon first hand!

As part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Center for Japanese Studies, Haruki Murakami will present a reading and lecture in Japanese and English, to be followed by a conversation with Roland Kelts. The presentation will take place on Saturday, October 11, 2008, at Zellerbach Hall on the Berkeley campus.

From the event description: "The author's numerous works, which have been translated into 36 languages, lead the reader along the interstices between the mundane and the sublime. His work has been described as easily accessible, yet profoundly complex. Murakami's reading and lecture in Japanese and English will be followed by a conversation with Roland Kelts (Tokyo University lecturer and author of Japanamerica) and a question and answer period with the audience."

The next day, Sunday, October 12, at The Alumni House on the Cal Campus, there will be a special program examining Murakami's works in translation.

This event is free and open to the public.

Japanese Literature on the Global Stage
The Murakami Symposium
Sunday, October 12
10:00 AM-1:00 PM
Alumni House


"Crazed Translator Gives Japanese Author Excedrin Headache"
Jay Rubin (Harvard Univ.)

"Lost in Translation? Murakami Haruki and the Japanization of the English Language"
Rebecca Suter (Univ. of Sydney)

"A Spatial Odyssey or, It‚s All Greek to Me: East Meets West in Murakami Haruki's Kafka On the Shore"
Matthew Strecher (Winona State Univ.)

"Are There Any More Like You at Home? Cloning Murakami Haruki for the US Market"
Stephen Snyder (Middlebury College)

Moderated by H. Mack Horton (UC Berkeley) and Alan Tansman (UC Berkeley)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We need your kanji photos!

Hey readers and kanji fans . . . we’re still looking for photos to add to our nearly completed book Crazy for Kanji by the amazing Eve Kushner. We’ve already got a bunch of photos, but we need more! If you have a photo of kanji in daily use, or kanji weird, funny, perverse, or distinctive, please send it to kanji@stonebridge.com.

If we use your kanji image, we’ll send you a copy of Eve’s book for free!

Here are the rules:
  • tif or jpeg
  • 300 dpi and up to 4 inches wide.
  • black and white or color
  • include your last name in the file name
  • give your name as you want it to appear in the photo credit; or indicate "anonymous"
  • provide a caption or a brief description of what's in the photo (assuming you know!), plus your preferred email contact address
IMPORTANT!! You must have permission to let us use the image. It can't belong to someone else and be submitted without that owner's permission.

The publisher decides which photos will be used and retains nonexclusive rights covering all usage, media, reprints, etc.

Don’t forget to check out Eve’s blog about kanji.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why I Like Amazon's Kindle

Heres a very different take on what I wrote about last time.


I've had a Kindle since June. Critics complain that it's not "Apple-like" enough. But Steve Jobs has famously said that readers don't want ebooks in the first place, so I suppose if the Kindle were truly Apple-like it would never have got off the drawing board (where Steve's hockey-puck mouse should have stayed; Apple's design sense is not unerring, you know).

The Kindle is the closest thing so far to the Holy Grail of e-publishing: a device that is portable, readable, simple to operate, and melts into the background. It's what you do with the Kindle that is important, and not the Kindle itself. At some point, you don't notice the Kindle, but you realize you can't live or work without it.

Well, I'm not there yet. But I'm liking my Kindle more and more. And it's not because the Kindle is a superior reading device. I like instead how easy it is to buy a book, no matter where you are. Two months ago we were driving through rural Oregon, listening to some political talk show. A book was mentioned. I turned on Kindle's wireless and was able to find and download a sample chapter of that book within 2 minutes. We were traveling 80 mph and probably a good 50 miles from the nearest bookstore. That Bezos et al. were able to graft the 1-click experience of instant gratification onto a whole new piece of hardware and get it right on the very first try is simply amazing.

Something else I like: I have to read a lot of manuscripts. They're heavy, and expensive to print out. I used to carry them in a bag on overnight or longer trips, and they always made me wonder why I didn't become a styrofoam cup salesman. With Kindle, I can send text documents to myself at my own Kindle address, and Amazon converts them back into Kindle-readable format and sends them direct to my Kindle. So I can carry dozens of mss without adding weight to my luggage.

And what's not to like about the savings in downed trees and fuel charges? As a publisher, I've seen the cost of shipping books to stores go through the roof, while at the same time consumers still resist paying more than $20 for a paperback. With a Kindle, there's no fuel, and no printing or storage charges for that matter. Skinflint readers can buy most Kindle books for less than $10.

Now that bookstores are demanding free freight from publishers, along with their unlimited returns privileges, anything we can do to go direct to readers is going to be better for us and better for our customers. Bookstores thus "disintermediated" will have to make do with selling journals, calendars, bargain books, and chai I suppose, or will have to do what they should have done years ago: accept that the publishing world is changing and that digital publishing in the form of Print on Demand and ebooks is going to be a big part of the mix in the years to come. (Why bookstores continually miss out on obvious trends is a mystery to me. I'll write more about this later.)

Kindle 2.0 no doubt will have a slicker design, less clunky navigation tools, a lower price, better response time, a workable internet browser. But for a first try, I rate it a great success. I like the world that it represents. It expands the reach and influence of publishers and writers at just the time when it is getting harder to find readers and much more costly economically and environmentally to get the content they want into their hands. Who needs hands when you've got screens?


Yes, we mourn the loss of the bound book. But I wonder if that's not just blind attachment to tradition. In 2-3 generations, who will care, and what is it exactly that will really be lost? I'd be curious to know what you all think about that.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Birthing the Book, Against All Odds

I've just spent the last two days battling the likes of the US Post Office, DHL, ATT, and a bunch of other vendors of goods and services. I'm sure you all know the routine. Call, get placed on hold, lose the connection, redial, wait, talk to someone in Bombay with a silver tongue who knows less than you do. It's frustrating.

How disturbing and humbling it is, then, to find out that some customers and colleagues are just as frustrated with me. In the same two days, Stone Bridge has had an irate retail shop complain about what they perceived as poor service, and I've had more than one author express frustration at my, um, lack of promptness at communicating. I always tell people it's OK to prod me, and by now I guess I'm so used to being nagged that I rely on it as a form of triage to determine which crises I will attend to first.

So, in the midst of ongoing incompetence and carelessness, not a small amount of it of my own making, it's a wonder that our books ever get out the door and make it to the correct shelf of your average neighborhood bookstore (thanks to DHL, sometimes they just don't). It strikes me that over the years the process of publishing books has evolved to guard against quintessentially human failures. The author writes, and writes well, but the editors edit and edit and edit again. Then there are the fact checkers and the proofreaders, the peer reviewers, the publicists, the designers, all of whom poke and tweak and meticulously chase down what we in the trade call "infelicities."

In the end we have what we hope is bullet-proof, a good read and a solid production. The world around it may be going to hell, but, dammit, this little book is going to be birthed without typos, grammatical errors, or clashing text and display fonts.

Maybe that's one reason we value books. They are one little corner of existence treated as if being right or not counts for something. One aspect of civilization that goes down better when produced slowly, like a pig buried in a pit of coals and covered over for a day or two or three to let the goodness cook through. Books are the antithesis of our instant blog culture, which is why they will endure or, for that matter, die out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Chinese Business Etiquette readies for new release

Now that the Olympics are over, it’s back to business! Dreaming of selling every person in China 1 widget and a thingie? Learn the ropes, and fast, with our just-launching Chinese Business Etiquette: The Practical Pocket Guide by business expert Stefan H. Verstappen. This short handbook covers everything from travel tips to negotiating strategies, with insight into culture and demeanor to help you figure out what’s going on and what you need to do to succeed. Competition is fierce. Personal connections count like nowhere else. Are you prepared? Preorder today!

Here’s what Stefan has to say about how to deal with one very popular technique for making you vulnerable during your business trip:
Chinese negotiators have been known to wear down foreign negotiators by various diversions and extended discussions. Taking clients out for a dinner, karaoke, and drinking games into the early hours of the morning before important meetings is a favorite tactic.

By preparing yourself and insuring due diligence ahead of your trip, you will be better able to deal with unexpected developments and make smart decisions despite suffering from lack of sleep and a possible hangover. Treat your trip to China like a marathon race. Pace yourself accordingly. Follow the Confucian model of moderation in all things to help you stay sharp and unfrazzled during what is ordinarily an exhilarating but taxing experience.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Any questions?

From Peter Goodman, Publisher

Thanks to ace publicist and communications master Ari Messer, who has left SBP and will be pursuing a writing career. The only people who make less than publishers are writers! But Ari knows what he's doing and I'm sure will be using his deft sentences and great intelligence to entertain and inform us in some fashion or another for years to come. 
Which explains my I'm taking over the blogging, at least for a while. So as long as I've got the opportunity, let me do a publishing shout-out (absent a proper colophon) to Nina, Reiko, Chris, and Jaime. Hope you guys are all doing well.
It's been a wild year, to say the least. Yohan in Japan went bankrupt, and here in the US so did Cody's Books. We had family connections to both companies, and while we're not a part of either our future plans have certainly been affected. It's been hard knowing that a lot of good publishing people have lost their jobs and that an encyclopedic amount of bookselling intelligence and experience is gone or at best lies dormant.
     I've been reading a lot of gleeful grave-dancing slaps at Yohan. Good riddance to the greedy bastards, I think is the thrust of public opinion. Well, as a one-time member of the Yohan family I can tell you that these were all good people who loved books, not a bunch of rapacious merchants. The Japan market had special costs that probably many of you are unaware of. For example, because many of the bookstores had no expertise in English, the Yohan salespeople had to constantly visit store after store, trimming up the shelves and counting stock. Every book imported had to be removed from its shipping carton and have an inventory tag hand-inserted in it because that's what the retailers insisted on, even though by all accounts it is in practical terms unnecessary, thanks to computers and barcodes. Return rates were high. And as you know, Amazon was pushing big discounts, and fuel charges were soaring (and are you aware that most Yohan stock was flown in from New York so that materials reached Japan soon after publication in the US?).
Look, I'm no apologist for Yohan. Obviously, they did a lot of things wrong. But you need to look at the bookselling industry as a whole and how it's changing. And also look at how consumers demand cheaper and cheaper. Everyone says they're in favor of independent booksellers and independent publishers, but in the end many of us shop at Amazon, Walmart, or wherever we think we can get the best deal. With gasoline in the US topping $4 a gallon (yes, I know that's cheap to you folks who live in Belgium), you can't blame people for stretching their dollars and trying their best to survive. Yohan, and Cody's, are in some respects just another Darwinian casualty.
       Well, as long as I'm blogging here for a while, if anyone has any questions for me about publishing, Stone Bridge, or what's up, just leave a comment here. 
     And I'm always interested in the next big thing. Any trends out there you think we should know about?

Monday, August 11, 2008

China Today

Larry and Qin Herzberg, authors of China Survival Guide, the first humorous guide to travel in China, are featured on the Calvin College website today, and the news story includes a clip from their forthcoming educational video about China.

Read the article and watch the video:

China Today: Chapters 1-3 & 22 from Calvin College on Vimeo.

Be sure to grab a copy of the China Survival Guide if you're heading overseas (or if you're already there). And if you're watching the Olympics and marveling at the lauded and shrouded architecture in Beijing, it might be time to pick up Frank S. Fang's China Fever, which details the economic and political history of growth and land use in China.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Astro Boy Essays on Animated Views

Over at Animated Views, Raz Greenberg reviews Frederik L. Schodt's The Astro Boy Essays, writing that Schodt's story of Osamu Tezuka and his best-known creation, Astro Boy, is "wonderful...[the] first comprehensive study in English about one of the most important people in the history of both comics and animation." (read more...)

Another reminder to read the book on the plane to London for the Tezuka retrospective in September!

Wear Your Crazy Wisdom: Smiling Budd(n)a now at Cafe Press

If you have been enjoying Wes "Scoop" Nisker's new book, Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again!, then you were likely as mesmerized as we were by the cover design.

Now that same Buddha-in-DNA is available in countless different shapes and sizes, from coffee mugs to t-shirts, at Cafe Press.

And while we're at it, Obama Kana and Anime Classics Zettai! designs are still available!

Friday, August 01, 2008

McCarthy to curate major Tezuka retrospective

We're excited to announce that Anime Encyclopedia co-author Helen McCarthy will be curating the first major retrospective in the West of Osamu Tezuka, Japan's "God of Manga." The film festival will take place at the Barbican in London, September 18-24.

The full lineup is yet to be confirmed, but McCarthy told us that many of the films will be screening in the UK for the first time, and there have been some sneak peaks popping up around the Web...

The Astro Boy Essays, Frederik L. Schodt's remarkable book about Astro Boy, the manga/anime industry, Tezuka, and Schodt's personal relationship with the master artist, is available now. Take a copy with you on the plane, and we'll see you in London!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Murakami is coming to Berkeley

This just in! Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, who rarely makes public appearances, will be speaking at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall on October 11. Tickets go on sale August 10. His reading and lecture in Japanese and English will be followed by a conversation with A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World contributor Roland Kelts. Sue Gilmore of the Contra Costa Times (and also of related papers, such as the Mercury News), was so excited to learn of Murakami's speaking engagement that "her world brightened" when she heard the news. She also gives a great shout out to A Wild Haruki Chase in that article. Thanks, Sue!

During the discussion between Kelts and Murakami, we're sure many of the issues discussed in A Wild Haruki Chase will arise, so get your copy today, bring it to your book group, read it on the BART, and start thinking of the best questions you can.

The word on the street is that there will be an academic discussion about Murakami's work the following day, including a presentation by translator (and A Wild Haruki Chase contributor) Jay Rubin. We'll post more info soon. Both events are presented in association with our friends at the Center for Japanese Studies.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wes "Scoop" Nisker at Book Passage tonight

"Brilliant, consciousness expanding, profound, mysterious, and very funny." --Jack Kornfield

Wes "Scoop" Nisker will bring his signature blend of Buddhism, science, and humor (and, if the audience is good, a little song and dance) to Book Passage in Corte Madera tonight, beginning at 7 p.m.

Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! will be available for purchase, and Scoop will sign books after his presentation! (INFO)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New excerpts from The Berkeley Book of College Essays

Are you or your children looking to get a head start on those pesky college admissions essays?

Stone Bridge Press has made a new series of excerpts--including complete, successful admissions essays--from The Berkeley Book of College Essays available online. Just go to the book page, click on "EXCERPT," and get ready to get inspired!

“This is a useful, provocative, and entertaining new book. It is radically different in wholesome ways from most of the other ‘How To’ essay books that crowd the bookstore shelves…. And it is a great cultural survey of Berkeley: female Boy Scouts, male dancers, you name it. What a great group of kids.”
--Jonathan Reider, Director of College Counseling at San Francisco University High School and former Admissions Officer at Stanford University

Thursday, July 03, 2008

In the Blogs: Kurosawa's other half and a Kyoto guide for locals

Following Teruyo Nogami's sold-out appearance at the Japan Society in New York, she and her book, Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa, have been popping up all over the blogosphere. Chris MaGee and Jason Gray talk about the (Japanese) Cinema Today article on Nogami-san, and Karl Ufert and (Stone Bridge author) Patrick Galloway report on the New York event. Perhaps the Flavorpill listing helped pull in that sold out crowd?

Ufert saw Nogami-san as a "magical 81 year-old lady with [a] shock of white hair, vibrant personality and lightning fast responses (through a translator)." (more...)

Also in the blogs, Dancing on Temple Tops takes a peak at Judith Clancy's Exploring Kyoto: On Foot in the Ancient Capital, noting that while the book is great for tourists, it's "also the guide that even we Kyoto residents buy and use." Awesome!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Teruyo Nogami in the New York Sun, at Japan Society tonight

Using the Nakadai retrospective at Film Forum as a chance to reflect on Akira Kurosawa's life and legacy, Bruce Bennett interviewed Teruyo Nogami for the New York Sun yesterday, writing:

If one were to say that Kurosawa is one of the 20th century's filmmaking deities, Ms. Nogami was his archangel. (read more...)

Nogami-san will speaking at the Japan Society in New York City tonight to support the release of her Stone Bridge book, Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stone Bridge Press Sponsors the New York Asian Film Festival, Which Opens Tonight!

Stone Bridge Press is proud to be a sponsor of this year's New York Asian Film Festival, which opens tonight and runs through July 6. There are too many great films to name this year! Whatever you decide to see, look out for giveaways of Stone Bridge film titles, including The Films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Anime Classics Zettai!, Asia Shock, and The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film, throughout the festival.

What a time for film lovers to be in New York. A major Nakadai retrospective opens at Film Forum tonight, and Teruyo Nogami, author of Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa, will be making some very special appearances in New York and D.C.

Journalist Fumio Matsuo to Speak in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Palo Alto

Ever wondered what the Japanese think of American history? Curious how the Japanese media is portraying the US presidential election? Democracy with a Gun author and veteran international journalist Fumio Matsuo will be speaking on these topics in Los Angeles on June 24 and in the Bay Area on June 28 and 30.

---Los Angeles Event---
Tuesday, June 24
"Citizen Forum: Hiroshima-Pearl Harbor Reconciliation"
6:30 p.m.
Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena CA
Free admission / Reservations recommended To RSVP, email to info@culturalnews.com or call Cultural News at (213) 819-4100.
(more info...)

Program moderated by Hugh Leonard of Los Angeles, a business consultant specializing in providing services to Japan-based American companies.
Co-sponsored by Armory Center for the Arts, Cultural News and Japan America Society of Southern California.

---Bay Area Events---
"Democracy with a Gun: A Conversation with Fumio Matsuo"

Please join the Japan Society of Northern California as we co-sponsor two special talks with Mr. Fumio Matsuo, the author of Democracy with a Gun: America and the Policy of Force. In this book, one of Japan’s best-known international journalists traces America’s position today as the world’s sole superpower. With a foreign perspective rarely provided by English-language media pundits, Mr. Matsuo provides in-depth, controversial analysis of America’s use of force to achieve its goals.

Mr. Matsuo will be speaking about his book, as well as providing insight on Japan’s views of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, on the following dates:

Saturday, June 28
Time: 2:00-4:00 pm
Place: Japanese American Association
of Northern California

Address: 1759 Sutter Street, San Francisco [map]
This talk will be in Japanese; it is free and open to the public.
Questions: 415.567.4824
Co-sponsored by the Japanese American Association
of Northern California

Monday, June 30
Time: 6:30-8:45 pm
Place: Morrison and Foerster, International Room
Address: 755 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto [map]
Fees: $10 General Admission
This talk will be in Japanese. Registration deadline is Friday, June 27. To register, please contact 650.522.8500 or mail@jccnc.org.
Co-sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California

Fumio Matsuo worked for the Kyodo News Service from 1956 to 2002, serving as Washington Bureau Chief from 1981 to 1984. Democracy with a Gun was first published in Japanese in 2004 and then in English in 2007; it won the 52nd Annual Award of the Japan Essayist Club.

(more info...)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Haruki Murakami book in the Hipster Book Club and Life in the Cul-de-Sac on the rgdinmalaysia blog

A Wild Haruki Chase: Reading Murakami Around the World was recently reviewed at the Hipster Book Club, where Michael Ward writes:

A Wild Haruki Chase is a fine collection of essays touching on a number of subjects including globalization, postmodernism, and translation issues. . . . The volume represents a work of criticism that is open not only to Japanese literature scholars but Murakami fans in general.
(read more...)

Also, in the blogs, Senji Kuroi's Life in the Cul-de-Sac, translated by Philip Gabriel, recently showed up at rgdinmalaysia, where it is interestingly compared to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.

China for Businesswomen in the Wall Street Journal's "Faux Pas"

In her Wall Street Journal "Faux Pas" column on karaoke as a business tool in East Asia, Emily Flitter quotes China for Businesswomen author and international business expert Tracey Wilen-Daugenti. Check it out. The story has a great opener:

The first deal Paula Beroza ever struck in China was sealed after she sang "Red River Valley" at a luncheon.

Rock on!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Linguist-Violonist Teaches China Survival

In an exciting lead-up to the China Survival Guide booksigning at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 21, The Grand Rapids Press ran a feature on full-time violinist and full-time language professor (and full-time China Survival Guide co-author) Larry Herzberg on Sunday. The article's full of gems from the multi-talented instructor, especially this one:

"Music, of course, is the universal language. And every language, spoken well, is music."

Herzberg, who speaks eight languages (Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian, French, and...English), is a big fan of felines. From the article:

He's cat crazy. He started a newsletter for symphony members called COMA -- Cats of Musicians Association. "I once spent a three-hour train ride with him just talking about his cats," says Aaron Lester, a Calvin College student who went on one of Herzberg's China trips. "He can talk about his cats for hours."

Larry's wife Qin, co-author of the China Survival Guide, comments in the article on Larry's splendid sense of humor (something which comes across bright and clear in the travel guide!):

"It's impossible for him not to make a humorous comment every few minutes," says Qin, who teaches upper-level Chinese at Calvin. "If you see a group of people standing together laughing, there's a good chance Larry is in there making jokes for them."
(read more!)

Business Passport to Japan in Rotary and OchTamale

Sue Shinomiya and Brian Szepkouski's new book, Business Passport to Japan, recently popped up in OchTamale, the University of Redlands magazine (Szepkouski is an alumni) and In Flight, the paper of Rotary International District 7470. OchTamale calls the book "a practical how-to guide," and In Flight tells the intriguing story of Szepkouski's journey from student to teacher to scholar to international businessman, based in New Jersey with his heart in Japan.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Teruyo Nogami is Coming to New York and DC!

"A wonderfully intimate and beautifully written portrait of one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived...essential reading.”
--Martin Scorsese

The legendary Teruyo Nogami, author of Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa, will be traveling on the East Coast with actor Tatsuya Nakadai in June 2008, supporting the HUGE Nakadai retrospective at Film Forum. In addition to numerous film screenings, in-person events include:

June 21
: Tatsuya Nakadai and Teruyo Nogami at Kinokuniya Bookstore, Bryant Park, 1073 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 3 p.m. in the 2F Event Space
June 22: Yojimbo screening with Nakadai and Nogami, Freer Gallery (Smithsonian Institution) and I Am a Cat at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
June 25: 50 Years with Akira Kurosawa: An Evening with Teruyo Nogami
, Japan Society, New York, NY

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Scoop on the Bonnie Simmons Show tonight

Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! author Wes "Scoop" Nisker will be on the Bonnie Simmons Show on KPFA tonight, 8pm-10pm, supporting his new book and his upcoming performances at The Marsh in San Francisco and The Freight in Berkeley. If you don't like the news, buy a copy anyway!

Here's a preview that the San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote for a different Scoop show a little bit ago. Still applies:

Wes "Scoop" Nisker is probably best known as the KFOG news commentator who ended each broadcast with the words "And if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own." Nisker, the author of several books and a leader of Buddhist meditation groups, is full of good-humored, wry insight into the political and social questions of the day.

(They also listed the opening at the Marsh here)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

China Survival Guide Feature and Booksigning

The Grand Rapids Press recently ran a feature about Larry and Qin Herzberg, co-authors of the China Survival Guide. Speaking to the Press' Nardy Baeza Bickel about the need for a humorous and detailed travel guide to China, Larry noted:

"There are all sorts of planners that talk about what to see, where to see. But they don't tell you the nitty-gritty."

(read more...)

Larry and Qin will be doing an in-store booksigning at
Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 21 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Put it on your calendars! Details TBA.

McCarthy and Sharp at the Barbican and Beyond

The Anime Encyclopedia co-author Helen McCarthy is as busy as ever. Upcoming events include:

May 3: Kihachiro Kawamoto films at the Barbican Cinema in London. McCarthy will be joined by Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Film co-author (and Barbican Senior Curator) Jasper Sharp to discuss Kawamoto's work before the third program at 4:15 p.m. (more info...)

May 11: Bristol International Comic Expo. McCarthy leads a panel on Osamu Tezuka's impact on the anime and manga industries. (more info...)

May 31-June 1: McCarthy at A-Kon in Dallas, Texas.

September 11-16: McCarthy curates a film season at the Barbican Cinema devoted to Osamu Tezuka to mark the 80th anniversary of his birth. Screenings will include titles previously unseen in Britain. A further short season in Spring 2009 will continue the celebration.

Wes "Scoop" Nisker on West Coast Live and Green 960

Two more upcoming radio appearances for Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! author Wes "Scoop" Nisker!

May 11: "The Peter Laufer Show" on Green 960AM, 9 a.m. - 10 a.m., San Francisco

May 24: Sedge Thomson's nationally syndicated "West Coast Live," 10 a.m. - noon, taping at the Ferry Building, San Francisco, followed by a booksigning (you can buy tickets to attend the show and signing)

March/April News & Reviews

In the Spring issue of Film Quarterly, Stephen Prince reviews Teruyo Nogami's Waiting on the Weather: Making Movies with Akira Kurosawa. Prince writes:

"This exemplary memoir showcasing Nogami's devotion to Kurosawa and to the art of cinema is a treasure trove filled with passionate, funny, wry, and incisive portraits of a golden age in Japanese film."

Waiting on the Weather was also reviewed in The Asian Reporter, where Mike Street wrote that "Weather is both enjoyable and essential...film students as well as Kurosawa fans will find it revealing and engaging."

Josephine Yun, author of jrock, ink., contributed a four-page feature on the current state of J-Rock to the April issue of Otaku USA.

The new Stone Bridge Classics edition of Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Isabella L. Bird's intrepid 1880 travelogue, was excerpted in the Asia Weekly and reviewed in the April issue of Metropolis, where C.B. Liddell writes:

"The fact that it doesn't try to please a modern audience is one of the book's charms, but its main virtue is that it provides us with a vivid and unforgettable picture of Meiji Japan..."

In the April 27 Japan Times, Gregory Clark reviewed veteran Japanese journalist Fumio Matsuo's Democracy with a Gun: America and the Policy of Force, writing:

"Matsuo is...meticulous in trying to find how the initially democratic and humane aspirations of the early Americans could evolve into the cruelty of today's military interventions around the globe."

Harvard University Press released Eve Zimmerman's new book, Out of the Alleyway: Nakagami Kenji and the Poetics of Outcaste Fiction. Great timing, as Stone Bridge concurrently released a Stone Bridge Fiction edition of Zimmerman's award-winning translation of The Cape and Other Stories from the Japanese Ghetto.

In The Asian Reporter, Josephine Bridges complimented Fumio Shiozawa's "lovely and surreal illustrations" in Divining the Asian Zodiac: Anient Guide to Life and Love.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tonight! Wes "Scoop" Nisker at City Lights

Wes "Scoop" Nisker will be reading and signing at City Lights Books in San Francisco tonight at 7 p.m. to celebrate the release of Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again!. Come on by for Buddhism, humor, "The Evolution Sutra," and maybe even a little song and dance...
(more info...)

Four New Releases from Stone Bridge Press

Out now!

Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again!:
Handbook for a Spiritual Revolution
by Wes "Scoop" Nisker
This seriously funny investigation of religion, evolution, cosmology, and Buddhism -- the second Cody's Book from Stone Bridge Press -- is a self-help book for people interested in helping more than just themselves.

A Wild Haruki Chase:
Reading Murakami Around the World

Compiled and translated by The Japan Foundation
Jay Rubin, Richard Powers, Kim Choon Mie, Inuhiko Yomota, Roland Kelts, Shozo Fujii, Shinya Machida, Ivan Sergeevich Logatchov, Koichi Oi, and Issey Ogata, with a special essay on translation by Haruki Murakami
Novelists, translators, and critics explore novelist Haruki Murakami’s phenomenal international appeal.

Exploring Kyoto:
On Foot in the Ancient Capital

by Judith Clancy
With detailed maps and two new walks, the essential guide to exploring Kyoto on foot is now even better!

The Cape:
and Other Stories from the Japanese Ghetto

by Kenji Nakagami, trans. Eve Zimmerman
A new Stone Bridge Fiction edition of the award-winning translation of Kenji Nakagami's riveting stories from the Japanese ghetto.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reminder: Frederik L. Schodt at the LA Times Festival of the Book this weekend!

Frederik L. Schodt, author of The Astro Boy Essays and numerous other books about anime, manga, and Japan, will be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. Schodt will appear on the "Reading Manga" panel, which will be moderated by Charles Solomon. Librarians, readers, booksellers, take note -- this is your chance to get a great read on one of the fastest growing industries in the world!

Schodt will be available to sign books after the panel discussion.

Reading Manga: A Japanese Phenomenon Comes to America
Panel 1114
3 p.m.
Saturday, April 26
Location: Humanities A51
(more info...)

Two new interviews with Yoga Poems author Leza Lowitz

The April issue of WOW! Women on Writing features an extensive interview by Suzanne Kamata with Yoga Poems author Leza Lowitz. Read it online here. Kamata notes that Lowitz just published her fifteenth book!

Also, in "The Art of Gentle Surrender," Lee Peau speaks with Lowitz, who runs the Sun and Moon Yoga Studio in Tokyo, about the connection between yoga and writing in Wingspan, All Nippon Airways' in-flight magazine.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements on the BBC

Stone Bridge authors and energetic anime experts Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements appeared on the BBC's Woman's Hour this week to discuss "controversial Japanese comics." The show is archived here.

Tomorrow, 4/20, McCarthy will be on BBC Radio 4's Go4It, discussing anime with children aged 7-11. The show streams from here.

Inspired? Order your copy of The Anime Encyclopedia today!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tonight! Crazy Wisdom book release at new Cody's Books

Join Wes "Scoop" Nisker and Stone Bridge Press tonight at the new Cody's Books store in downtown Berkeley to celebrate the release of Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again!, Nisker's seriously funny new book on Buddhism and science. Leah Garchik mentions the release in her column for the San Francisco Chronicle today, and Buddhist master Jack Kornfield recently had this to say:

“Brilliant, consciousness expanding, profound, mysterious, and very funny. Ah, the audacious joy of crazy wisdom!”

Tom Robbins, author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, loved Nisker's The Essential Crazy Wisdom:

“Twenty-three times more liberating than the Bible, the Torah, and the Koran combined. It may be crazy to say such a thing but it is also wise.”

Monday, April 14, 2008
7 p.m. in the store
Cody's Books
2201 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
(more info...)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Author Events Update: Schodt in Japan, Fang on Radio, Scoop in the Bay Area, and Bacarr on Playboy TV

The Astro Boy Essays author Frederik L. Schodt has upcoming events in Japan and Los Angeles:
March 22: "Tezuka Osamu, Astro Boy, and the Roots of Modern Manga and Anime," JAT meeting, Shibuya, Tokyo, 14:00-17:00
March 24: "
Osamu Tezuka and Astro Boy," presentation to Paul Sutcliffe's manga class, Temple University Japan, Tokyo, 11:30-12:30
April 26: "Reading Manga"
panel discussion at the LA Times Festival of Books.
(More info on Schodt's events)

China Fever author Frank S. Fang has become a frequent radio guest. Appearances past and upcoming:
March 19: WMTR Radio Morning Show (OH)
March 21: WBIG Radio Morning Show (Chicago, IL)
March 21: Charles Barone's No Boundaries Radio Show, 8-9pm EST (MA) listen live
March 25: Michael Dresser Show, 6pm EST listen live
April 8:
KGAB Radio Morning Show (WY) check it out
Many more appearences TBA -- stay tuned!

Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again! author Wes "Scoop" Nisker will be appearing throughout the Bay Area in April and May:
April 14: Book release at Cody’s Books, Berkeley, CA
April 29:
Reading at City Lights Books, San Francisco, CA
May 16–17; 23–24:
Comic routine at The Marsh, San Francisco, CA
May 29–30:
Comic routine at the Freight & Salvage Coffee House, Berkeley, CA

The Japanese Art of Sex author Jina Bacarr will be on the "Naked S
ushi" episode of Playboy TV's 69 Things to Do Before You Die. Details TBA, but for now check out the great promo video!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Frederik L. Schodt to Speak at USF on Tuesday!

February 26, 2008, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
USF Main Campus, Xavier Hall, Maraschi Room

The Anime/Manga Revolution: Osamu Tezuka and 'Astro Boy'
A public lecture by Frederik L. Schodt

In this illustrated presentation, noted Japan expert Frederik L. Schodt examines the art of manga and anime, the connection between fantasy robots and technology, and the lifework of Osamu Tezuka (1928-89), the pioneering genius of manga and TV animation in Japan. Tetsuwan Atomu, or 'Mighty Atom,' (known in the United States as 'Astro Boy'), is his life's masterwork because of the character's profound cultural impact. Befriended by Mr. Osamu, Frederik Schodt combines the pespectives of friend and cultural historian in assessing the growing significance of both anime and manga in his new Stone Bridge Press book, The Astro Boy Essays.

Presented by the USF Asian Studies Degree Program. Coponsored by the University of San Francisco Center for the Pacific Rim.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

China for Businesswomen in Bay Area Business Woman

Business expert Tracey Wilen-Daugenti's new Stone Bridge Press release, China For Businesswomen: A Strategic Guide to Travel, Negotiating, and Cultural Differences, was featured prominently in the January 2008 issue of Bay Area Business Woman in an article by Julia Dodge titled "China is doing business with women." Dodge was clearly inspired by the book, ending her analysis with this: "So don't believe the hype...women can do business in China!"