We're now at the eleven day mark before Cosplay: A History: The Builders, Fans, and Makers Who Bring Your Favorite Stories to Life hits stores, and I arrived home a short while ago to find a big stack of boxes waiting for me.
It's a real book! I'm a little emotional with this: it's the culmination of years of work that's up until this point been an intangible thing: just words on a computer. Now, it's a brick of paper and glue and ink.
And it's big. I didn't quite appreciate how chonky this book is (until I had to move those boxes into the house), but it's got some serious heft to it. It's a beautiful copy, and I can't wait for you to get your hands on one. 11 days!
With the book coming up, I wanted to do a bit of a roundup for some of the stuff that comes ahead of it: those pesky details about where to find a copy, and so forth. Some of you know this already, but just in case, here's the rundown.
What's the book?
I've been talking a lot about Cosplay in the last couple of months, but on the off-chance that you've missed that, here's the back copy on it:
In recent years, cosplay—the practice of dressing up in costume as a character—has exploded, becoming a mainstream cultural phenomenon. But what are the circumstances that made its rise possible?
Andrew Liptak—a member of the legendary 501st Legion, an international fan-based organization dedicated to the dark side of Star Wars—delves into the origins and culture of cosplay to answer this question. Cosplay: A History looks at the practice’s ever-growing fandom and conventions, its roots in 15th-century costuming, the relationship between franchises and the cosplayers they inspire, and the technology that brings even the most intricate details in these costumes to life.
Basically, it's my attempt to put the story of cosplay into a bigger narrative, one that extends back centuries to look at why we dress up in costume what it means for the world of fandom and entertainment.
But at its core, I like to think of this book at the story of community: how we come together to share in the common love of a story. We cover a lot of ground: the origins of costuming, military reenacting, protests, early fandom, equity in fandom, big franchises, the history of 3D printing and social media, and a lot more. I interviewed a ton of people for this, and took a ton of pictures for it.
Where to buy it
Cosplay comes from Saga Press, an imprint from Simon & Schuster, so it's available from wherever books are sold. You can get it as a trade paperback and eBook: here are some links for the bigger stores that you can get it from: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop (apparently folks who ordered here are already getting their copies!), Books-A-Million, Indiebound, Target, and Walmart.
It's also available as an audiobook in digital format and CD (narrated by the fantastic Eunice Wong), which you can grab from: Audible, Audiobooks.com, AudiobookStore.com, Audiobooksnow, Chirp, Downpour.com, eStories.com, Kobo, Google Play, Libro.fm, Nook, and Scribd.
Folks have asked where the best place to buy the book is: my answer is wherever you typically buy books. It's all the same on the back end. BUT. If you'd like to support your local indie bookstore, I certainly wouldn't discourage that. And if you can't afford to buy a new book? Request it at your local library!
(If you're here in Vermont, I know Barnes & Noble in Burlington, Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Phoenix Books in Burlington, and Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, have copies. I'm sure there'll be others as well.)
I'm working with the Yankee Bookstore in Woodstock, Vermont to handle signed copies. Here are details on how to do that:
tl;dr version: head over to Yankee Bookstore's website and order a copy (either the TPB or audiobook CDs) through them before June 19th. I'll head down to the store, sign them, and they'll ship them over to you. In the comments box before you check out, just lemme know what you'd like me to write or who to sign it to: be very clear about what you'd like, so I don't mess it up!
As I've noted before, if you order a copy, forward me a receipt, and I'll comp you for a year on the full paid list of this newsletter.
But wait, you ask: is this book any good? Well, I'd like to think so, but I'm maybe a bit biased. But here are some nice things that people who aren't me have said:
"Liptak’s study is an inspiring one, underscored by the community’s efforts to spread “magical moment[s]” with organizations such as the Make-a-Wish foundation. Cosplayers and curious minds alike will enjoy this intriguing dive into an eccentric world."
"An entertaining look at a vibrant, “interactive, interpretive, and immersive” pop-culture community...Liptak renders all of these community-building adventures with aplomb. A wonderfully fun book showing that the art of having a good time has not been lost."
Booklist (subscription required):
"Delving into cosplay’s past and present, he also writes in detail about how this genre-bending art form will continue manifesting itself into the future."
Such passion could not be faked and, instead, adds significant charm to a detailed retelling of costuming history that could easily become dull. Liptak’s voice and occasional anecdotes make for an entertaining read, even as the constant dates and locations come at you fast. To read this book is like listening to a friend let you in on a secret rather than perusing a detailed account of history.
Valley Reporter: (hometown paper)
The book reads like an encyclopedia of all-things cosplay, dating back to the early sci-fi conventions of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to a historical telling of the trend, it also paints a vibrant picture of the present-day cosplay community, active at events and conventions nearly every weekend of the year.
And it has some phenomenal blurbs from authors I really admire. Murderbot author Martha Wells says:
"Andrew Liptak not only covers the history, fabulous art, and fun of cosplay, but takes on the thornier issues like gatekeeping and racism by interviews with a wide range of fans. This is a comprehensive resource for anybody interested in our world of fandom."
P.W. Singer, author of Wired for War, Ghost Fleet, and Burn-In says:
"Cosplay brings our favorite stories to life in the real world around us. This utterly fascinating book, in turn, brings the world of cosplay to life. A serious history of fandom, which will make you a fan."
Brian Merchant, author of The One Device (Which was a hugely influential book on this one) says:
"Andrew Liptak expertly demystifies the culture of cosplay for those out there under the mistaken impression that the phenomenon is just a glorified game of dress-up. Liptak makes the case that it's not just a pastime, but a robust community, an art form, even something transcendent. His book is sure to be embraced as the definitive history of cosplay."
Alec Nevala Lee, who wrote Astounding says:
"Cosplay is a hugely important part of fandom that has long deserved a history of its own. Andrew Liptak’s engaging, informative book is a welcome look at the past, present, and future of a fascinating aspect of popular culture."
And finally, Michael A. Stackpole, author of Rogue Squadron and a whole bunch of other books that I devoured as a teenager, says:
“A comprehensive, entertaining and fascinating exploration of costuming and its relationship to popular culture. Cosplay: A History perfectly captures the hard work, pure pleasure and social interactivity that makes costuming more than just playing at fancy dress. It is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in costuming, in the history of popular culture conventions and exploring the amazing world of wearable art. Andrew Liptak combines a historian’s eye for detail with an enthusiast’s passion to pull together an enthralling book about a wonderful aspect of popular culture.”
Listen to me talk about it!
Over the course of this spring (and a bit last fall), I've been talking about the book a lot for podcasts and other places. Here's a rundown:
There are a bunch more to come: stay tuned.
How you can help
Okay. That's a lot, thanks for sitting through that self-indulgence. This book has been quite the journey, and I'm very proud of the final product and the folks who helped bring it to this point. If you've been a regular reader of Transfer Orbit, or of any of my work online, I think you'll enjoy it. I'd love for your help in getting the word out.
If you're interested and able, please consider preordering a copy at any of the places listed above. Preorders are hugely important in the lifecycle of an author, especially someone who's just starting out. It's daunting. If you know a nerd in your life, if you're one yourself, it'll make for a good read, a good gift (father's day is coming up!), or a good doorstop (Seriously, this thing has some heft.)
Mainly, this is something that's been in my head since 2016, and it's now out in the world. The notion that people now get to read it is both terrifying and exhilarating, and I'm exciting to hear what you think.
Other ways to help spread the word: if you're on any sort of social media, please consider telling folks! Post a picture of your copy, let folks know what you think, tag me, and so forth. Word of mouth is so important for books, and I hope that Cosplay reaches fans of all types. I wrote this with a wide audience in mind, and I hope that they find it in the noise that is the entertainment world.
You can add it up on Goodreads: here's the page for it. If/when you read it, please consider adding a rating and review: these are critical for folks browsing online. Book discovery is such a crapshoot, and any little bit helps. You can also add it up on LibraryThing!
Along those same lines, please consider adding up a brief review to Amazon if/when you read it. Again, reader reviews are huge when it comes to telling people about the book, and supposedly helps with their visibility. Sticking a rating and review up on Barnes & Noble wouldn't hurt either.
Every little bit helps – thank you so much for coming along on this journey so far. Y'all have been a huge boost, fantastic cheerleaders, wonderful to chat with in email/Slack/Twitter/Instagram, and in other places around the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really hope that you enjoy it.