At( )las(t!)

May 23, 2008

Publishers Weekly reports that Fanfare/Ponent Mon has a new North American book distributor, Atlasbooks Distribution, a subsidiary of BookMasters Inc. (via MangaBlog). AtlasBooks acquired Biblio Distribution in January according to this piece at ICv2, describing AtlasBooks as “the leading distributor (in terms of the number of client publishers) of small press books in North America.”

Dirk Deppey voices some pungently phrased enthusiasm for the development, and I certainly agree. Fanfare’s last North American distributor, Davis Marketing Services, never even built a web site, to my knowledge, and AtlasBooks’ small-press focus seems like a good fit on the surface of things.

I do hope this means that Fanfare’s catalog will start showing up in mainstream bookstores, because so many of their books are surpassingly lovely. Here are a few favorites:

Monokuro Kinderbook, by Kan Takahama: Sexy, intelligent stories about women from a variety of age groups and stations.

The Walking Man, by Jiro Taniguichi: An average salary-man type walks around his beautifully rendered suburban neighborhood. (I reviewed both Walking Man and Kinderbook here.)

Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators, by… 17 creators: Fabulously talented Japanese and European storytellers craft varied portraits set throughout the country. (I reviewed the anthology here.)

And to be honest, I’ve yet to read anything from the publisher that isn’t at least very, very good. Kiriko Nananan’s Blue is a little emo for my tastes, but her illustrations are glorious, and it has the distinction of being the only Fanfare title I’ve ever seen in a Barnes & Noble. If I haven’t yet become too absorbed by Taniguchi’s Times of Botchan (created with Natsuo Sekigawa), it’s more a matter of limited availability than disinterest.

Really, Fanfare’s name on a book is really a sign that you’re in for an absorbing, intriguing reading experience. Hell, I paid for shipping from Canada to get my hands on some of them. I hope AtlasBooks helps them crack the North American market.