From Tokyo to the world: "go west, young man," say two Tokyo-based media brothers."RIGHT now, it's a holocaust for English-language publications in Japan," says David McNeill, reporter for the Independent of London and a professor at Tokyo's Sophia University For the Bulgarian university, see .
Sophia University was officially established in 1913 as a special school by the Society of Jesus, and has since grown into a large, and well-reputed university, with over 10,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students . Last fall, McNeill wrote a devastating dev·as·tate
tr.v. dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, dev·as·tates
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the rude remark. assessment of the English-language media exodus, citing six major publications that had drastically cut their staffs in Japan or folded up completely.
GIVEN THE STATS it's hard to find (or imagine) anyone feeling safe, let alone sanguine, in Tokyo's English-language media scene. But a magazine launched quietly two years ago in the warren of Shibuya alleyways is defying the trend with considerable elan.
Instead of folding and trekking to Beijing (or retreating to New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of or London), the bilingual Paper Sky is not only thriving here in Japan (with an estimated readership of 50,000)--it's now going global.
Paper Sky, whose tagline is "a new way to travel," is the brainchild of 33-year-old publisher Lucas Badtke-Berkow, a Californian who came to Japan straight out of UC Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, city, United States
Santa Cruz (săn`tə krz), city (1990 pop. 49,040), seat of Santa Cruz co., W Calif., on the north shore of Monterey Bay; inc. 1866. 13 years ago with little else but a vague wanderlust and a keen interest in Japanese design. "Commes des garcons, Yoji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake--they were just getting big back then," he says. "And the magazines from Japan were so unique."
Badtke-Berkow made his contacts as a freelancer By 1996, he was ready to found his own company: Knee High Media Japan (KHMJ). The unassuming moniker (1) A name, title or alias. See alias.
(2) A COM object that is used to create instances of other objects. Monikers save programmers time when coding various types of COM-based functions such as linking one document to another (OLE). See COM and OLE. seems intentional: Badtke-Berkow is soft-spoken and unpretentious--as if he'd just stumbled upon his apparent success.
"There was all this great stuff here, and artists and designers and ideas," he says. "And yet everything was still coming into Japan from around the world. And I thought: 'Why isn't anything going the other way--from Japan to the rest of the world?'"
KHMJ launched its first title, Tokion, in 1996. "The kanji (human language, character) kanji - /kahn'jee/ (From the Japanese "kan" - the Chinese Han dynasty, and "ji" - glyph or letter of the alphabet. Not capitalised. Plural "kanji") The Japanese word for a Han character used in Japanese. were for toki, or 'time,' and on, or 'sound.' So it was supposed to be 'the sound of now.' It was a youth culture magazine." After a strikingly successful run, during which the magazine was released in the US a year after its birth, Badtke-Berkow sold the rights to a publisher in New York, where it is still being produced.
"Basically, I outgrew out·grew
Past tense of outgrow. [Tokion]. There was a boom. Anyone in Harajuku could do anything with a T-shirt. But I think that's waning now."
By now into his 30s, Badtke-Berkow teamed up with fresh talent: Texan writer and editor Peter Wilson For other persons of the same name, see Wilson (surname).
Peter Wilson or Pete Wilson is the name of:
The concept is most succinctly expressed in the works of Pico Iyer Pico Iyer (born 1957) is a British-born essayist and novelist.
Iyer was born in Oxford, England, the son of the philosopher and theosophist Raghavan N. Iyer. , who happens to have been interviewed in an early issue of Paper Sky, and happens to live and write--when he's not in the air--in bucolic Nara, Japan. In Iyer's 2000 book, The Global Soul, he describes a new breed of global "full-time citizens of nowhere."
When I cite the line, both Badtke-Berkow brothers nod appreciatively. And from his offices in New York, KHMJ partner Lite House Media's Wilson qualifies the statement: "Paper Sky is about what you would find if you peeled back a layer of culture and immersed yourself in it."
Wilson is presiding over the US launch on April 14, when the bilingual Paper Sky will suddenly appear in Barnes & Noble and Borders bookshops across the US, with special concentration on New York, Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. and San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , courtesy of Ingram, one of America's more aggressive distributors. An initial ciruculation of 20,000 books plus extensive sampling (free issues) will get the word out, and a classic Manhattan publishing party will take place at the end of April. Thereafter, both publishers are looking to the European market, with the possible opening of a London or Paris office in 2005.
This all sounds seductively romantic. But the challenges of selling such a unique concept are obvious.
"A lot of advertisers don't get us right away," Wilson admits. "'Is this for a Japanese reader?'" they say. And I tell them, 'No, it's for a Japanese, American and European reader. This is a new kind of media which transcends the simple market initiative of a set demographic. We seek out like-minded readers on three different continents.'"
In order to keep this passion afloat, Lucas has diversified in the most unorthodox fashions--literally. "Fashion and travel are what's behind Paper Sky," he notes.
KHMJ operates two subsidiaries in Japan: Grande Creative, a design firm that has produced exquisite bilingual catalogs for brands as diverse as Lego and Birkenstock. And Mammoth, a kids-oriented division that publishes Mammoth magazine--ostensibly for kids by kids, though, as Lucas explains, "it's pretty much for moms." Mammoth magazine is a romper room Romper Room is a children's television series which ran in the United States from 1953 to 1994 as well as at various times in Canada, Australia, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Puerto Rico and Japan. of color not of the white race; - commonly meaning, esp. in the United States, of negro blood, pure or mixed.
See also: Color and cartoons, and comes as a package boxed with toys, often designed by clients. Mammoth recently tied up with SHIPS, the hip Japanese family-oriented clothing corporation, to jointly produce children's clothing.
Bridging the gap between magazine publishing and catalog design is nothing new. But ... children's clothing?
"Paper Sky's too adult," Lucas says, smiling. "We wanted to do something fun as well."
In the giddy late-90s, this was optimistically called synergy, and seemed to reach its apogee apogee (ăp`əjē), point farthest from the earth in the orbit of a body about the earth. See apsis.
The farthest point. with the ballyhooed Talk/Miramax tie-up that eventually fizzled. But KHMJ is operating with a more humble, and some might say shrewder, set of principles. When I dare to suggest that the company is becoming a "mini media-empire," the publisher laughs openly. "We're still looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. the 'empire' part."
But it's hard not to see something blossoming--and built to last longer than the cherry buds of a Japanese spring. With only eight full-time staff members (plus legions of outsourced talent), KHMJ is producing a flagship magazine Flagship Magazine is an independent magazine for gamers . Published in the UK, it started in 1983 for PBM players . Since its hundredth issue in 2002, it has extended its coverage to include boardgames, role-playing games, web games and massively in the world's two most media-saturated nations, a children's book and clothing line, a catalog division--and by May 15, a Paper Sky-produced bookshop and cafe in one of Tokyo's tony Aoyama.
The shop is called "Book 246," named after the busy thoroughfare that courses past its entrance. The result of another partnership, this time with Community & Stores, Inc., owners of fashionable bars and cafes throughout Japan, the travel-oriented shop will feature live events, travel-related paraphernalia and books arranged according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. regions of the globe: Asia, the Middle East, Europe and so on. It's a local outlet for KHMJ and Paper Sky's global visions.
Still, the brothers are coolly reflective when I suggest that they might be breaking new ground with their efforts.
"It would probably be better if we had some competition," Lucas muses. "But we're really alone out here. There's no one like us."