Old and new things

© Frederik L. Schodt

Another photo from the opening weekend of the Smithsonian Institution’s Tezuka festival – here, I’m signing copies of The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga after our panel discussion on Saturday. The picture is by Frederik L. Schodt and used with his kind permission.

What I really love about this one is that, as I’m signing my newest book, the gentleman in the foreground (hello L!) is holding an obviously well-used copy of The Anime Encyclopedia from 2006. He talked to me a few minutes after the picture was taken, and showed me the precise and informative notes he’s added in the margins.

Like many of the Encyclopedia‘s fans, he’s been keeping track of updates on existing entries, and new releases in franchises, to send to the publisher, Stone Bridge Press, in the hope and expectation that there will be another print edition.

Many people say that books are obsolete, especially books on pop culture products like anime and manga. After all, nowadays all the information is on the Internet (though the noise-to-signal ratio is absurdly high, and it takes a while to sift out all the misinformation.) But meeting L, and other readers, in Washington reminded me that books still have value, especially when authors aren’t afraid to lace their information with considered opinion, and when they’re prepared to enter into dialogue with their readers.

Nobody has ever accused me, or my co-author Jonathan Clements, of being afraid to express our opinions, even if they don’t rate them very highly or give us credit for any consideration; and the feedback we both get from readers shows that our dialogue with them is ongoing. I hope they know how valuable it is to us.

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