Pon Ding bookstore: zine is an independent innovation of the publishing market!

04 2019 | Issue 32
Text/tRisty Chang & Jasper Hou

Pon Ding bookstore’s founder YC Chen was born in Taiwan. Graduating with a master of arts from the UK, Chen had worked as an editor and curator. In 2016, Chen teamed up with her friend Kenyon Yeh and opened Pon Ding bookstore in Taipei. The three-storey bookstore sells local books, independent books from overseas, zine publications, etc. Visitors can also find a café in the bookstore and sometimes art exhibitions. From a bookstore selling independent publications to a venue of exhibitions, Chen and her team worked with great flexibility. Ponding, representing the fluidity of water, aggregates different talents and creates many possibilities.

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The Internet helps zine thrive, but physical publications can never be replaced

Chen likes physical books. From her perspective, zine is special because it can influence physical publishing through the rise of the Internet. Looking back, the Internet has contributed to the development of zine. “More creators of zine are connecting with their readers through Internet platforms. This makes it easier to find people alike,” Chen commented. Zine’s development in Taiwan has its ups and downs but overall it’s moving forward, Chen said, comparing zine’s development in Taiwan to the stock market index.


Zine is a form of media that represents the content creators. A zine publication is the representation of the author,” Chen said. The trending creative content found online and visitors’ preferences are all taken into consideration by Chen in publishing independent publications.


Organising exhibitions helps to promote content creators on zine and its independent publications

Chen describes Pon Ding bookstore as a platform where anything can happen. The first floor is the reading area while on the third floor there is space for the book launch and exhibitions. “When I first started to work on this, such operation was still quite rare in Taipei. We are using a small space for different exhibitions and salons,” Chen said, telling us that Pon Ding is like a private art gallery in a neighbourhood. Science of the Secondary, which also exhibited at Pon Ding, is a successful example.


After learning her experience, other content creators also started to think about having their own exhibition. Chen stated that it’s very necessary for a city to have art book exhibitions and cities like New York and Seoul have already been doing it for years. The Taipei International Book Exhibition in February this year had gotten together a group of zine content creators through a cultural and creative market. As the promotion goes, the event “Make a Zine 3” attracted zine creators to exhibit their works at the book exhibition. “Some people might think it’s odd to have so many zine creators at a very commercial event. But the reality is it takes time to promote a new concept and encourage content creators to leave their comfort zone,” Chen said. “Through such an event, the content creators are able to gain exposure for their works. It will gradually become an important part of the book exhibition.”


Zine’s market performance is not only about the circulation figures


Although zine is developing actively in Taiwan, its market performance still doesn’t look very good in numbers. “Sometimes you can’t just look at the sales volume of zine as the only performance indicator,” Chen stated. “The publication’s exposure, which could help get the attention of other brands and pave ways for business cooperation, should also be taken into consideration.” According to Chen, some zine creators actually got cooperation opportunities from big brands because of their zine works. Some got opportunities in exhibition design and some became partners of companies’ publications.


Taiwan’s independent publication Qdymag also started as a small operation. It later rolled out a tourist magazine named Saba for the Japanese government, promoting Fukui,” Chen said. She believes that independent publications do have the chance of profiting when they gain exposure and get cooperation opportunities from large-scale businesses.


Zine can create trends while remaining independent

Different from mainstream publications, zine is not constrained by any publisher and it doesn’t have a set and regular issuing date. “Zine is very flexible,” Chen believed. She gave an example of the subscription model that is popular in overseas markets. Under this subscription model, the subscribed members will pay a monthly fee or annual fee. Each month, subscribed members will receive special issues that are delicately selected by the editors. In the future, such a model might be implemented by the zine publications or other independent publications from Pon Ding.


Zine could be a disruptive innovation in the publishing market. It is also able to remain its independent quality, creating more opportunities,” Chen concluded. Perhaps zine is only a form of media. But the development in other areas it stimulates can bring up more opportunities.


Recommended publications:

Nos: books | www.nosbooks.com insta-stalker.com/profile/nosbooks

Science of Secondary | www.ideabooks.nl/magazines/science-of-the-secondary

Charlene man | Instagram: charlene_man

Pon Ding

No.6, Ln. 53, Sec. 1, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 10441, Taiwan