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 6 - Changes In Production
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– Six –
Retailing through Mom and Pop shops and changing formats.
Changes in Production

     I mentioned in Tome Five that I had spent a year in researching the northshore Louisiana city of Slidell.  I was prompted by my ongoing attempt to get the popular New Orleans newspaper to render a book review favoring me, I decided to research and produce the history of a Louisiana northshore city that was proximate to the Big Easy.  It took a year and many miles of trips to finally release "Slidell – Camellia City", in 1999.  But, no, the newspaper didn't get bagged in.  “We don't do Self-Publishers” echoed forth once more.  
     My book is the only such history book on Slidell, Louisiana.  When I released it and sent news-copy, I coupled it with presenting a talk on the History of Slidell as was sponsored by the local Public Library.  Even with that, not a single New Orleans newspaper gave coverage!  It appears that they only cater to elite celebrities.  I simply washed down my frustrations with a Martini.

     Well – onward  to other matters.  Entitled “Slidell – Camellia City,” I had included a section on Old Towne Slidell and enumerated many of the old business locations in addition to posting old and new photographs.  Also, I strategically picked a number of other business sites located in the periphery of the city and added a brief description on each.  I then visited a number of them seeking retail locations to handle book sales.  After showing their business posturing in the book with a photograph of their building front, I  proceded to request the owner to handle book sales on a consignment basis with 25% commission for a trial period of two months.  In this way, I was able to get 12 business sites to participate.  One who refused me at first was a Barber Shop – interestingly enough ---  through the past several years, the barber is still going strong and has sold over 200 books to his patrons.  Other locations consisted of flower shops, a stationery store, a wine and cigar outlet, a printing shop, a frame gallery, and a cleaning shop.  As sales volume dissipated, the Barber Shop and the Slidell Museum are the two remaining outlets that are kept supplied.  Since Slidell is on my way to New Orleans where I still get my printing, it is no problem.
     By 1999, several situations had developed.  The Docutek printing device at Kinko's in Baton Rouge was being downgraded and more enhanced Docutek printing equipment was being installed in New Orleans.  My first concern was that I would lose all my files which had been stored at Baton Rouge in an incompatible format which could not be read by my computer.
     A second factor occured during the preparation of my book, “Slidell – Camellia City,” my personal computer printer bombed out, so in the interim, I was forced to input my data onto my computer at home, then copy the text files to 3-inch diskettes, then trot off to the local public library where I had to use an upgraded version of word processing software.  Although the four week period of jumping back and forth from home to the library was very cumbersome, it was do-able.  I finally got the book completed.  Trials usually create benefits.  I had learned to appreciate the enhancements gained by the newer wordprocessor software.  Result – I decided to procure an up-to-date state-of-the-art computer and printer system.

     It was with the new computer and printer and newer-version word-processor with which I created “Pass Christian – Historic District and Lost Mansions.”  I was then able to use any desired
page format.  Additionally, with my 4-in-One printer (scanner, copier, fax, printer), I was able to scan all my photos – and by using graphics software, I was able to size and crop the photographs with the newer version word-processor.  I could then place phographs on any page wherever I desired in addition to embedding captions.  I also eliminated the use of side-bars which I substituted with text-boxes in order to offset and distinguish errata and other miscellaneous data.  In effect, this ended my requiring Kinko's to prepare page set-ups at $2 per sheet, which sometimes cost more than $300 per book.  But, even “mo betta den dat,”it ended the process of my editing and re-editing before and after Kinko's service operator.  In the short of it, eliminating set-up charges alone, paid for my computer and printer after completion of my next five books.
     In addition, I now create and print in color, my own book covers, such as shown here representing the "Mansions" book that I self-published.  My covers were previously prepared by Kinko's at an extra cost of $1 – each – $1 for front cover, and $1 for back cover.
     A third factor came about with the file formats of  Kinko's stored data files of my books on their Docutek printing equipment.  I accommodated this by purchasing from Adobe, compatible software capable of preparing, reading, and editing the PDF files produced by Kinko's.  This has given me greater freedom to transmit files to other commercial printing houses, as well as transmitting via internet to Kinko's – thus reducing the frequency of trips back and forth to New Orleans.
     A fourth factor resulted in my purchase of an Ibilco binding machine which allows me to process the edge punch holes and to use comb binding (similar to spiral binding) to produce a finished book.
     When I first acquired my binding equipment, the binding combs were expensive, but more so, the transparent plastic covers that I use, had increased from 30¢ each to 40¢ at Office Depot.  Two of these per book and two colored covers at $1 each, plus the cost of Kinko's preparing the book binding process, came to an end, as I learned to cut as many cost centers as possible.  (The reason that I use transparent plastic covers on top of the color covers is to protect the ink from being soiled by water or handling smudges.  The clear plastic outer-cover also gives the book a more appealing presentation and added durability.)  I further cut my cost per book by buying binding and ink cartridge supplies through internet product vendors.
     I had stopped using the Perfect Bind process after my first two books due to the excessive cost of one-time color separations and the additional cost of color processing.
     If anyone is interested in the cost of hard covers – the last time that I checked, you might be looking at $6 each in volume without any printing on the cover board.  You then have to look at an additional expense for color folders on top of the hard cover.  This places your book in a considerably higher retail value range.

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Self Publishing is a great experience!