And another client from Watercress’s distant past … well, not all that distance, only 1988, but sufficiently far enough in the past that there are no existing records at the firm who worked up printing and binding of the original publication for Alice. I know – I called and talked to the company sales rep. Alice, though, is probably doing cartwheels in heaven over joy that a big corporate client is returning to us in a small way, for a reprint of their book. Likely she is also planning to send me a rocket of a memo through a handy medium, lecturing me on failing to charge every penny possible to an entity who can bloody well afford it. This is debatable, considering the state of Teeny Press publishing these days, and I had this spirited discussion with her many times. In the days of digital and POD printing, charging everything the market would bear and then 10% was increasingly untenable. I still believe we lost certain very promising prospects over this. Clients willing to pay in five figures for a private publication, even one done to the highest quality and aesthetic standards, were becoming dismayingly thin on the ground by the time that I went into partnership. I still am certain that we lost certain high-value publishing projects because of inflexibility in this regard. But – inside baseball. As a saving grace, there are those clients who are perfectly willing to pay a little extra for the privilege of dealing with a publisher whose representatives are happy to to meet personally, answer telephone calls readily, and work on their project with an attitude of ‘can-do’. These clients are our bread and butter these days. This is how I compete with the big and impersonal national POD publishing houses.
All we are needing to do for this latest project is to take apart an existing print copy, carefully scan every page, and then reassemble into a new file, upload to the contract bulk-printer, scan and tweak the existing cover, and do the same. We are doing most of this in-house. Back in the day, this kind of thing would have had to have been farmed out to someone who had expensive high-end software, an equally expensive high-end scanner, exalted word-processing and photo-editing skills, and therefore felt justified in charging a very high price for this expertise. But such now is the availability of scanner/copiers and relatively inexpensive software that much of which had to be farmed out to experts twenty years ago can now be done in-house with relatively inexpensive and off-the shelf technology. I saw this happening in miniature yea on two decades ago in the military. Once every unit acquired a nice copier-printer unit, which could do all kinds of quality B&W or even (horror!) color print jobs, there went the base reprographics office, which was reduced to issuing plaintive memos requesting that units refer all print projects of over so many pages and so many copies to them, and not to do them on the unit printer. Which was merrily ignored; in my time, the base office with the duty of keeping the current library of military forms was also reduced to obsolescence by having every form imaginable distributed on compact disc to individual units. Doubtless the time of the clerks tasked with this was re-routed to duties more immediately useful. I’m an optimist, so I can hope.
We are doing this current project with a printer-scanner-copier bought from Sam’s Club on Wednesday. Alice’s chosen expert for formatting manuscripts – that is, putting them into proper book format – billed her almost $5 a page. I can do it myself easily for less than half that, and when it is text-only, it feels a bit like highway robbery in asking for more than a couple of hundred or three for the entire book. (Pictures are complicated, especially those requiring captions. Again – inside baseball.) This book will be knocked out by this weekend, just in time to go back to work on the epic biography, for which the client wants more photos inserted. And a section in color, too. As soon as the pictures are finalized, then I have to work on the index … But this is one of the biggest clients Watercress has had in a long time, so yes, I am attentive to this client’s wishes.
Well, that is it for the income flow – I did manage to get my income tax figures sorted and over to the accountant who has looked after my interests for lo these many years. And there has been enough income flowing in that certain household things can be repaired, refinished or reupholstered. The two chairs and the tuffet were done and delivered this week, installed behind the bifold doors to the den which will hopefully keep the cats from testing their claws on them. With this, the main part of the house now looks good enough that I wouldn’t feel embarrassed at having someone visit. And even though it is not snowing around here, it is still cold enough that cocooning inside the house is a pleasant and comfortable option.