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I Need Your Opinions

I also wanted your thoughts on something I am kicking around. I have done a lot of reading up on publishing as an endeavor and I wanted your professional take on such things. It might also provide another way for smaller presses to try some different things and increase revenue (for example, experiments with "vooks").

It seems with the fragmentation with the entertainment dollar, with the change in the publishing industry (including the repurposing of content in various formats -various e-book formats, sales to academic bundlers, open access, creative commons licensing, "vooks," etc.) that repurposing these things might be a cool thing to experiment with. I think we authors can't sit back and expect others to do the work for us. We have to take the initiative and examine all the permutations of the e-world. This can only increase our visibility and hopefully our grocery money.

At the same time, I think there is always a backlash to such things, and so there has also been a quiet market of high-value collectible books-- books bound in embossed leathers, in slip cases, with high quality paper and traditional type-setting, fine art reproduction, and sometimes each numbered and with original art (sketches, monoprints, etc.) included in the slip-cover/book.

Now I don't really think every book would be suitable for the collector treatment necessarily, but I am currently doing a book on my tribe's mythology and I am thinking about going that route for that project. Perhaps even two versions, one inexpensive paperbound version, and one collector's version that is more of an artwork. I am thinking about finding a way to increase the chance one of my books might be around 500 years from now, to preserve our tribal legacy in a particular form that might last a few hundred years. Unlike with some tribes, our oral tradition is almost nil, although I am trying to address that too, learning more of the language and becoming a traditional storyteller. Making a high-value quality item is one way.

Anyways, I guess the main things I wanted your thoughts on are:

I want to try some things not only as a writer but also as an artist. What do you think about the collectible new fine books market? Have you come across very much? Have you created a fine collectible book yourself? I have seen a few examples-- a friend of mine bound some of his books on New Mexico trappers in goatskin and a slipcase and they sold out --the same book in paperback for $15 sold for over $70 and sold out in a couple of months. There were only 25 of these done if I recall correctly. There are numerous new "art" occult books which sell for hundreds of dollars in limited editions. "Harry Potter" author Rowling did an interesting experiment on "art editions" as well with her original "Beedle the Bard" project: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?ie=UTF8&docId=1000179911

Any thoughts? Have you done one of these yourself?

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art editions

I am a book publisher, although I haven't attempted publishing art editions yet. They can be very expensive to create, something beyond my ability right now. But if you have the money for design and printing, then I think an art edition of your work is a wonderful idea. You have a specific market to target: people interested in Native culture and people who collect art editions.

Make a plan and a budget. Who will design the book? You? Are your skills up to the task? If not, who can you hire? How much will it cost? To get the price you need for your book you won't be able to skimp on design. Get the best possible designer you can afford. Who will print the book? Not all printers are equal. For art books, I wouldn't go digital. You'll need to order a thousand copies up front from an "off-set press" (non-digital) on good quality paper, which again can be very expensive. But if you want to charge $75 a book, you can't skimp on quality.

I'm not trying to talk you out of this, just making sure that you have a plan to make this idea a reality.

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Thanks Terena, I am with you

Thanks Terena, I am with you on all counts. I am totally into the traditional off-set press route, and hunting up an old-school craftsperson into doing something totally quality. Probably a couple different levels of quality, 750 hardcover clothbound offset, 200 hardbound in embossed leather binding, illustrated, numbered and signed, and then a deluxe version with slipcover of beaded buckskin and an original one-of-a-kind drawing included (not a print, an actual drawing-- I sell these normally for $100 or more anyways), maybe 50 copies or so. Of course these numbers are all just conjectural right now.

Luckily I have some contacts through university presses to find a designer and printer to work with. I think there are people who would not only appreciate the work, but the chance to work on something not so mainstream but more about their art and craftsmanship.

To come up with the base funding I would probably look at the old model of subscription to begin with from a small circle of friends I met while in grad school as well as some of the owners of my paintings. That should provide a substantial portion of the basic funding to get the design and printing hired out and going.