Commitment to Craft: Quality in the Digital Age

It has taken me quite some time to decide what to write about for this blog. Although I am fascinated by the world of print culture, I know so little about it (at this point in  time). Despite my limited knowledge of the many facets of book binding, type face, etc, my time as a reader has lead to an appreciation for the quality of a book. As Febvre and Martin explore in their essay, the construction of a book can be just as important as the content of its text. In the early days of print, craftsmen worked tirelessly to reproduce the manuscripts of the monks and scribes who had for centuries held a monopoly on the written word. As print spread, this desire for quality persisted, but relented to some degree. This created a space for cheaply made printed texts also known as ephemera to gain traction in the new market. Today, ephemera and higher quality books circulate throughout the world. Japanese comic books, also known as manga, were originally printed in large volumes and circulated on cheap paper. This issue of the manga Blood Lad is an example of a traditional manga collection.

Large collections like this contain 3 issues of a manga. This particular collection retails for 20.99 Canadian.

Conversely, this hardcover reissue of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is somewhat of an oddity among Japanese comics.

This Hardcover retails for 22.99 Canadian. It only contains one issue of the manga. 

The higher print quality lends itself to collectors far better than the flimsy paperbacks frequently sold in Both Japan and North America. Despite the lack of content and higher price of the second book, its charm is undeniable. The reader may be paging more per page. but the quality of printing is the draw. Conversely, the lower quality Blood Lad manga is jam packed with content, which makes it equally as appealing, albeit in a radically different way.

2 thoughts on “Commitment to Craft: Quality in the Digital Age

  1. I do agree that “ephemera” remains a strong force in consumer decision-making when shopping for books. I worked in management at Indigo for about a year, during which both Teen Manga +13 and Manga 16+ were two of the highest growing merchandise categories and I think it has something to do with what you discuss here. For one, Netflix (and maybe web streaming more broadly) as provided access to better (+16) anime programs, beyond the juggernaut franchises broadcasted on YTV. However, from a retail perspective, the Manga MCATs was a goldmine because it offered the customer lost of different purchasing options vis-a-vis saving money by buying multivolume paperback compendiums or spending more on ephemeral (sometimes limited print or signed) single-volume books.

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  2. Hardcover books are marketed as a more appropriate form for important texts, but this is really just backwash from a period when individual books had a clear function to preserve. If your cheaply bound manga falls apart, get another.


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