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Articles by Don Bosco

Don Bosco
Don Bosco creates fantasy entertainment for young readers. He runs his own publishing studio, Super Cool Books.
Don Bosco

How BooksActually Actually Makes Books

Posted on May 13, 2013

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It seems that if you’re a bibliophile and you live in Singapore, then you can’t help having a crush on BooksActually.

BooksActually is probably the most innovative indie bookstore in this small country. In the past few months, they’ve pulled off some charming feats of marketing. They organised a string of pop-up stores, including ones at Hotel 1929 and Blackmarket (Orchard Central). In April they held their “24-Hour Bookstore Event”, featuring discounts for books, free drinks sponsored by Red Bull and an overnight programme filled with literary bohemianisms. And before that, they hosted the Monocle Season Shop, a retail event that was part of the magazine’s The Monocle Asia-Pacific Tour.

BooksActually also promotes its own gutsy catalogue at these events, a selection of quirky books produced through its publishing imprint, Math Paper Press. Current titles include Red Dot Irreal, a collection of “equatorial fantastika” stories by Jason Erik Lundberg; Sonnets from the Singlish by Joshua Ip, basically an exercise in writing 44 sonnets in Singapore’s street English dialect; and Ayam Curtain, edited by June Yang and Joyce Chng, a compilation of bizarre microfiction inspired by local culture.

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The Age of Lean Publishing

Posted on April 19, 2013

07 ghostly signing

One evening in 2011 my two young sons suggested that we start a publishing company and produce fantasy and mystery stories for kids, all set in Asia. What they really meant was that they’d supply me with awesome ideas and I would slave away and make it all work. I didn’t have the heart to tell them no.

That was the start of our micro-publishing studio, Super Cool Books. We didn’t have easy access to the usual industry resources. But around the same time I came across some interesting ideas about a new approach to publishing.

In 2010, a former Silicon Valley software developer named Peter Armstrong popularised the phrase “lean publishing”. He came up with a manifesto for this and co-founded the Leanpub publishing platform. He has distilled his idea into one quotable nugget:

“Lean Publishing is the act of publishing an in-progress book using lightweight tools and many iterations to get reader feedback, pivot until you have the right book and build traction once you do.”

It sounded revolutionary, empowering, and also very practical. So we spent our first year exploring this approach. Thanks to some supportive collaborators, we managed to produce the Time Talisman series of e-books with Singapore publisher Select Books, and also launched the first Sherlock Hong e-book with the creative writing school, Monsters Under The Bed. Then, in May last year we started the Ghostly series in a way that really helped us appreciate the possibilities of lean publishing.

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Monster Gallery’s Prince of Prints

Posted on March 26, 2013

Photo: Monster Gallery

Photo: Monster Gallery

JOSEPH CHIANG, SINGAPORE

Printmaker / Founder of Monster Gallery

Singapore’s Monster Gallery is a fast-growing brand in the world of collectible crafts. Its hand-made pop culture prints are increasingly being found in homes, design studios and exhibition halls around the world.

Photo: Monster Gallery

Photo: Monster Gallery

Monster Gallery founder Joseph Chiang originally studied for a diploma in Product Design. After some time dabbling in video work, he enrolled in a part-time printmaking course at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. In 2007 he started Monster Gallery as an online showcase to sell his quirky redesigns of classic book covers and movie posters.

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How to Draw Zombies and Influence People

Posted on February 19, 2013

Julian Kam's Room + Portrait

Julian “Lefty” Kam, MALAYSIA

Co-Founder/Comic Artist at Gilamon Studio

For those in publishing: it is the best of times, it is the worst of times. With digital tools and social media platforms, it’s now easier to make something and generate buzz. But at the same time, many bookstores find it hard to meet their overheads, and traditional publishers are still coming to terms with digital publishing. So what can you do, if you love comics and you want to publish your own titles? Try following in the footsteps of Julian “Lefty” Kam, a comic book creator from Penang, Malaysia, and a respected member of the comics community there. He writes and creates the artwork for his own graphic stories, and distributes these in print and digital formats. His original titles include the Major Zombie and Jimi Germ comic series. Some tips: learn your craft, collaborate, prepare to multi-task like a boss. And never forget to feed your idea machine.

Self-taught, went to school, or picked it up on the job?

I studied graphic design in a college, but art-wise I’m mostly self-taught. I’ve been in this industry since the 90’s. I started out working in advertising while drawing comics part-time.

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