Book on Lav Diaz – A self-publication model?

Now that my time as a PhD student comes slowly, but at the sometime speedily to an end, I need and want to think about publishing my material. This blog has been of tremendous help and will remain up and running for as long as I’m a Slow Cinema fanatic. Yet, I wish for something slightly more when it comes to my actual thesis. Rather than putting all this work into my shelf, gathering endless amount of dust, I’m keen on bringing this baby into the wider world.

A book on Lav Diaz, his representation of (post-)trauma in relation to its country’s historical and societal malaise, would, I believe, be a good start to publish some fundamental material on his work. There are a huge number of interviews with and blog entries about him. But a substantial work on Lav Diaz is still non-existent.

As a scholar, I should perhaps decide for an academic publisher. This has for a long time irritated me, however. I set up this blog to make my work available to those who would otherwise never get hold of these information, because they would have to pay, i.e. the material would be behind a please-pay-to-educate-yourself bar, which I find rather unethical. I don’t really have any expenses writing this blog, so I’m happy to leave it the way it is.

I think people could benefit from my work. This is by no means an arrogant statement. I generally see research by whoever on whatever subject as beneficial to other people, who are able to pick up on existing ideas and improve on them, or even challenge them. Research is, in effect, a communal effort. Yes, thesis writing is a solitary work, but then the work has to go out there and prove its worth. The only requirement is that research is available to the public, and in many cases, it isn’t. It’s behind pay walls.

I thought through the possibility of publishing my book through academic publishers. I come from a very poor background, where it was difficult to find the money for school books. Yes, I’m from Germany, a wealthy country. This doesn’t mean, though, that education is cheap (I’m eternally grateful to my parents, who have made my education possible.). I therefore have a problem with selling my book for horrendous prices. Look at current prices for academic books…they exclude everyone who does not have a certain degree of wealth. No money, no education. It gets worse the higher you get in the bureaucratic system of education. If I was to publish through academic publishers, I would not even have the money to buy my own book. The book would be available to scholars, who have a stable and decent salary, but not to those who probably have the highest interest in the material.

I reckon that the strongest interest in my book comes from people outside academia. People who go see a film for the pure joy of it, not for dissecting it into tiny little bits. People who still have an innocent mind about this, and who are not spoiled the way I am, who often finds herself studying framing etc even though I’m only viewing a film for my own pleasure, not for work.

Long story short, the idea is to go for self-publication. I found a very good model for it yesterday. I don’t want to get rich with it anyway, so royalties have little to do with my decision. I may actually end up earning more royalties through self-publication than through publication via academic publishers, who knows.

The advantages with self-publication are plenty. I have no up-front costs. Books are printed and shipped on demand. It’s therefore a very ecological way, if you think about it. I set the list price, not the (academic) publisher. I can make the book as cheap or as expensive as I wish. I can also adjust the price according to country of distribution. I can therefore charge more in high-income countries and less in soft-currency countries. The book would be available for purchase not only on Amazon (US, Europe), but also through my own website, which makes handling the whole issue very simple. By setting the list price, I can also say that 50% of the royalties, or whatever percentage it’ll be that I come up with, goes to Lav Diaz himself as a financial support for his work. This way, buying the books is not only a purchase, but also a donation in parts.

As I’m not at all interested in making lots of money with it, and as my main aim is making my material available to the broader public, the model of self-publication is incredibly tempting.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this, though. So if you have any thoughts, ideas, concerns, please let me know. I’d be grateful for any input. Thank you!

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5 thoughts on “Book on Lav Diaz – A self-publication model?

  1. I’ll buy one copy! 🙂 but what’s with ebook (as alternative, not as substitute of the paper version)? I’m an ebook “consumer”, but I guess formatting a text in a ebook format is kind of a pain in the ass. But ebook are great! A lot of academic book are now on ebook and the prices are way more accessible than the paper version.

    Anyway, if you’re gonna present the book in berlin, we can organize a screening + book presentation 🙂

    keep me posted!

    • Uuhhh, I’d love that, a screening + book presentation 🙂

      I was thinking of ebooks, but I’m personally not an ebook fan. I don’t like reading on a screen. Besides, not everyone has an e-reader. I could offer it as a complimentary to the paper edition. Not sure. Ebooks are definitely a good idea, but they should not be the main output, if you ask me.

  2. Dear Nadin

    You might want to consider the situation of students (film studies; philosophy; Philippine studies) working in universities. They tend to read what is available for free via their libraries, be it on-the-shelf or online. And much is available… so why go out and spend one’s own money on a book that is not in the library?

    Self-publishing reduces the cost to a library of purchasing an individual book, be it physical or online; but publishing with a reputable academic publisher (and within a series of books, usually edited by an academic with a reputation) gives a quality assurance to the purchasing library.

    The question is this: how do university libraries make their purchasing choices when it comes to books which have been self-published? Maybe ask your local university librarian.

    My suggestion: -publish a long article in an open access journal (i.e. free for everyone; you might have to pay though…!) -self-publish the book, and select as reputable a partner as possible -optional: expand the book, and try to publish with an academic publisher

    best Adrian

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this, Adrian.

      I’m not exactly planning with or for libraries. Libraries, especially university libraries, work on recommendations. My library only has the two existing books on Slow Cinema because my supervisor recommended the purchase so that I could read them. Which is great, and sad at the same time. Not even the National Library of Scotland has copies of those books. Even St Andrews University, whose Film Department is in the Top 3 in the UK, doesn’t have material on the issue. As long as no one suggests a purchase, libraries won’t buy the book.

      If I were to put emphasis on students and libraries, I would never get this book out. Slow Cinema and Philippine cinema is not in the curriculum, so libraries don’t have / don’t need to stock books about it. I got all my books on the subject of Philippine cinema through the British library. These kind of books tend to be available in national libraries in the West, because university libraries don’t have a use for them. Sadly. Besides, there is very little written on it.

      Libraries only play a small part in my planning, if at all. Slow Cinema is such an underrated phenomenon in Academia that it’s not worth planning with them. I may not always go for self-publishing, but I think it’s the best way to do it with this book, and I have long thought that this would be the right way.

      I’m not publishing an article in an open access journal. I frankly don’t have the money to pay the publisher to make something available, which I can easily make public myself on my own website. I know it’s not reputable, but I honestly don’t care much about this. I know about the quality of my work.

      On the other hand, I will publish academically. I have a book chapter to write on Lav’s Florentina Hubaldo. I also have two journal articles planned. I’m not at all turning my back on academic publishing completely. I merely try to find the best model for my thesis, the book of which will be an expanded version, yes. I will need to add a chapter, for example.

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