I am responding here to the ‘Meet Someone New” challenge.
This is alway a good idea, though I must admit I have preferred usually to do it with a purpose rather than just randomly. So that is exactly what I have been doing.
I am in Phnom Penh right now, to work on my project, which includes figuring out how to stage an installation here, and publish (at least one) book. It’s my first full day here, this trip.
First, I decided to visit Monument Books. They are by far the biggest bookstore in the country, with outlets in other SE Asian countries. They cater to both local and international (tourist) trade. I just showed up, and is oft the case in Cambodia, a few friendly words led to a serious conversation with Borey Kranh, who is the Book Dept Executive (Monument is also a Toy Store). He was super helpful.
I won’t get into all the details, but:
- Monument can act as distributor, in their stores (including the all important airport) and through wholesale.
- Their terms are fair, operating on consignment, and with professional, monthly reports on sales (and payments).
- They can arrange promotions, book of the month, book launches etc.
- Timing is very flexible, though December is the best sales month, which works really well with the FMP in 2019.
Borey was intrigued by the ‘Unfinished Stories’ idea and the project as a whole. I suspect we will do a Khmer/English book. I will need to meet his boss, William, who is originally from the UK. It might not necessarily be this trip because of timing.
Of course I had been to Monument before, though this time I took careful note of what was on the shelves, and the competition. Here’s a smattering.
Lots of Khmer Rouge stories, so to break through means some very careful thinking on positioning, graphics, title and so on.
Borey was also good enough to go through several recent book launches – how they worked – and the books themselves.
Good quality. I am hoping to meet a couple of printers this trip, so this was very timely.
Afterwards, I wandered through the ‘arts’ district of town (aka Graffiti Central). There are not a huge number of gallery spaces but the ones that do exist are pretty cool.
I had a lovely, serendipitous chat with Tony Lefferts. He’s a Texan, who runs ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ – a mixed arts and music space. Cambodian psych rock is at the fore. Don’t ask, though I personally enjoy the music and have several records. I bought a signed print whilst I was there.
Tony used to be a film maker in the US, and in fact is working on a couple of projects now.
He runs a modest but very lively Gallery. There are two floors. It has a vibe which (as an ageing hippie) I can only enjoy, and I can see my work there.
The gallery has both local and expat clients, and sells well.
We agreed to stay in close touch, and might meet again before I leave town. But we shook hands on a show next year. It won’t be all I do in Phnom Penh, but I now see that we might be able to engineer a ‘series’.
In any case, I do feel that a collaboration with Monument / Borey and Wang Dang Doodle / Tony is on the cards.
To be continued.