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michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture
Martial Arts Resources?

I thought I'd throw this up to see what others think about it.

Recently, especially over the Christmas holidays, I noticed at local bookstores that the normal amount of martial arts publications have dwindled significantly. Books and magazines used to occupy a lot of space but now they occupy about as much  as they did during the 1970's. Likewise I also noticed the same thing with strength training books, except that is the latest break though by the most popular pop-star for this month.

Therefore my question is  this. Do you feel that the internet has become a better resource for obtaining martial arts information than printed sources found in bookstores?  Please don't get me wrong, because there are some truly great martial arts books out there. I'm just wondering how publishing companies can keep turning a profit when you have resources  such as this one and others like it on the internet.

Thanks, Mike

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

michael rosenbaum wrote:
Therefore my question is this. Do you feel that the internet has become a better resource for obtaining martial arts information than printed sources found in bookstores?

I think that the internet is affecting both books and magazines; but each a little differently.

I buy loads of books (at least one a week) and I’m struggling to recall the last one I bought in a bookstore? I’m generally not a fan of fiction and the internet is simply a much better way to purchase “non-mainstream” books and books on specialist subjects. So martial arts books are probably still selling as they always have, but perhaps a greater percentage are now being sold via the internet through the likes of Amazon etc than through conventional bookstores?

That’s certainly how it works for us. Amazon are huge when it comes to book sales and the majority of mine are now sold through them with only a very small amount now being sold through stores.

Bookstores are also under a lot of financial pressure with the financial downturn and pressure from online sellers. They therefore have to make the best use of shelf space that they can. Rather than giving up space to a martial arts book that someone may come in and buy eventually, they are probably better served by giving space to popular fiction, celebrity biographies, bestsellers, etc. Such titles will turn over faster.

So with regards to books, I would say they are probably just not in bookstores like they were due to online sales taking over.

Magazines are a little different. At one time they were the only source for news and the latest information. The internet has obviously completely changed that. Magazine and newspapers generally are not selling in the numbers that they once were; and martial arts magazines must also be caught up in that. The good ones are still a great read and have their market, but any information people need is now just a click away. Once you’ve paid for your internet connection, all that information is free too (not free to make, but free to the user). However not all of that information is of good quality, and that’s where the magazines perhaps have an advantage? Anyone can put things on the internet, but all the work in magazines has been critically approved. The good editors will therefore produce good magazines that will sell on the back of that quality. It is harder for magazines these days though.

michael rosenbaum wrote:
I'm just wondering how publishing companies can keep turning a profit when you have resources such as this one and others like it on the internet.

The way we make it work is all the free stuff we put out encourages some people to buy the odd book, DVD or attend a seminar. Overall, we spend more time and money on putting out the “free stuff” than we do stuff we charge for; because we put out a lot more free stuff! The vast majority make use of the free stuff and don’t purchase our products (I’d be speaking to you from my holiday home in Cannes if they did!) but that’s OK as I’d like to think we provide a valuable free service and it’s great that people find it of use. The martial arts book or magazine publisher who tries to ignore the impact the internet is having is likely to have a hard time of it. However, if you concentrate on getting good information out there in the first instance, and making money to finance the whole thing in the second instance, then I think the internet can really help.

All the best,


rshively's picture

One of the better resources that I've found is the local public library. Just like bookstores, there are some libraries that carry a lot of martial arts books, and there are some that carry as little as possible. But, the library has one advantage over the bookstore and the internet: the interlibrary loan system. I've used this source several times in requesting rare and out of print martial arts books.

The idea is that all the libraries across the U.S. are linked, thereby allowing all of their available books (both on the shelves and in storage) to be made available to the general public. If your book is in california and you live in Georgia, then you have the option of putting in a request for it. It usually works, but not always.

Barnes & Noble books or bn.com has a used/out of print section on their website. They can often tell you who has it for sale, as well as provide you with an isbn #, which you need for the interlibrary loan system.

One time, I requested a book written by the late Nick Cerio. The only available copy was in the Library of Congress. I was unable to take it out of the local library, but due to these restrictions, they had no problem with me using the xerox and make copies of it.

I hope this helps,