Topics

Specialty Books (was Train Shed Cycs)


Shawn Beckert
 

Tony Thompson wrote:

I'm watching this thread alertly to see interest
level and if there are any authors out there. Hardly
any books materialize just cuz someone wants 'em.
(Sigh). Ok Tony, you have both written and published, as
have some others here, probably. You're familiar, I'm sure,
with the Westside publications mentioned earlier. Maybe
6" by 8", 30-40 pages at most. What would be the costs
involved with something that size? Forget authorship just
now, we can twist Richard's or Ed Hawkins' arm later. The
real issue is money, isn't it?

We know the material is out there, probably right within
the members of this list. Is it really that expensive to
put a *small* specialized book together? How many would you
have to sell to make it worthwhile?

Shawn Beckert


thompson@...
 

(Sigh). Ok Tony, you have both written and published, as
have some others here, probably. You're familiar, I'm sure,
with the Westside publications mentioned earlier. Maybe
6" by 8", 30-40 pages at most. ...Is it really that expensive to
put a *small* specialized book together? How many would you
have to sell to make it worthwhile?
At the risk of boring the list, here's a quick set of estimates.
Since so small a booklet would be expected to have a low price, you
probably couldn't sell it for more than $8 or $10 (just a guess), certainly
not anything like $15. It could likely be produced for prepress and print
costs of around a buck and a half, two bucks at most. Sounds good, right?
Well, the publisher only gets $6 of the $10, if that's the price, and pays
a buck to the author. There's usually around a buck a copy for storage,
advertising, other overheads etc., so the publisher might net around $2 a
copy. I don't doubt we can sell a thousand or so of such publications in a
couple of years time, so about a thousand dollars a year return. Not
terribly attractive unless we can produce it with very little time on our
part. Even then, it's a dinky profit, for us and for the stores that sell
it.
Bigger books take a lot more time to produce and cost a lot more to
print, but proportionately command a substantially bigger price. Book
publishers are in a little of the same bind as auto makers: Cadillacs are
more rewarding to sell than Chevies.
That's not to say that booklets can't be viable in our field, only that
the economic return isn't terribly exciting. Unless I'm wrong about the
market... because selling 10 or 20 thousand would change things quite a
bit.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2942 Linden Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 http://www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
Publishers of books on railroads and on Western history


Garth G. Groff <ggg9y@...>
 

Shawn:

I wrote and sold three small monographs of the type you describe. They
were produced on a shoestring and were pretty low quality: 5X8 inch
size, maximum 36 pages, paper covers, saddle stitched, photocopy
reproduction. They cost me between $1-2 each in runs of 100-150. I
believe I could have upped the quality and had real printing for a bit
more, but would also have had to take larger press runs.

Of my three books, I sold about 1,000 copies of the largest and first at
about $4 wholesale over two years. The second I sold two runs of about
200 at $3. The third was only about 100 at $2.50. They certainly paid
for themselves, and I had a lot of fun, but ...

Such a project is "doable", though it is a lot of trouble. Don't forget
that you have to get business licenses, tax certificates, file extra
income statements with the IRS, and pay any state or local sales taxes
you collect. My city even tried to tax my kitchen table where I produced
these things as a business asset!

Kind regards,


Garth G. Groff

"Beckert, Shawn" wrote:

(Sigh). Ok Tony, you have both written and published, as
have some others here, probably. You're familiar, I'm sure,
with the Westside publications mentioned earlier. Maybe
6" by 8", 30-40 pages at most. What would be the costs
involved with something that size? Forget authorship just
now, we can twist Richard's or Ed Hawkins' arm later. The
real issue is money, isn't it?

We know the material is out there, probably right within
the members of this list. Is it really that expensive to
put a *small* specialized book together? How many would you
have to sell to make it worthwhile?