Saturday, March 24, 2007

Spring Book Show 2007 and other craziness

Not necessarily in order of occurrence...

This weekend I was a presenter and attendee at the Spring Book Show 2007 in Atlanta, GA. I enjoyed myself there, and gained a view of the book publishing and selling world that was very vague to me before now.

By the way, did you know that (according to a speaker there), there were over 170,000 new titles published in the United States last year? Yep. One hundred seventy THOUSAND new titles. Sort of makes the inner eye of the mind go all unfocused, doesn't it? If you are a writer, your Great New Book last year was competing for attention... and shelf space in the store... and the consumer's dollar... against about 169,999 other new books.

If you are a publisher, you had to be SUPER-selective about which titles you chose to risk money publishing, because money spent on books that don't sell, either TO the store or once they get IN the store, is wasted money.

The Spring Book Show is all about the Remainders and Returns market. It is where books that didn't sell, either from the publisher or from the retailer, get "recycled" in an effort to try to make some money, somehow, for someone. I saw a LOT of dealers there, and none of the book dealers were selling single books. The closest thing I saw to a retail sale was a dealer who allowed you to buy a minimum of three of a title, but your order had to be $100 or more. So you either bought three VERY, VERY expensive books, or three copies each of nine or ten books, because a lot of books were selling for $1, $2, or a little more. One dealer had a minimum $1000 order from any single FOB point. I tell you, it was a little bit overwhelming.

Books were being sold by case lots, by "Gaylord" box full and in numbers that literally went into the hundreds of thousands, for one buyer.

What was I doing there?

I was teaching at a seminar being held on Friday and Saturday, and my presentation was on "The Trials and Tribulations of Starting a Publishing Business." Most appropriate, I think. I sold a couple of books, too, though that wasn't my main reason for being there.

Other recent events for me:

If you've read much of my blog, you know Dear Wife and I are working on creating a haven on a little over 16 acres of land in the mountains of North Georgia. I finally had the time to rent the equipment to dig the trenches for all the water lines we have to run for the orchard and garden beds. The bloody thing weighed 6,000 pounds. Here's a picture:

And since the guineas were sitting right where the trench needed to go, Dear Wife and I ended up moving the guineas, pen and all, to a new location. I had to strap the little guinea house to the front of the trencher to move it, since it was so heavy. Oh, and the eight guineas were inside it when we moved it, too. They really didn't like that aspect of it, I don't think.

But they are now in their new location and seem to be very happy there.

Speaking of birds, we also have some little zebra finches who live in the house with us. In a cage, not loose! Atticus and Arabella are their names. But actually, we have more than that now! About two weeks ago, two of their eggs hatched and we now have two MORE in the Finch family, Jem and Scout.

Like the recent movie, Failure to Launch, Atticus and Arabella seem to have some problems getting their little ones to leave the nest. The babies are almost as big as their parents, but have yet to poke even a single feather outside their woven-twig nursery. I believe Atticus is getting annoyed with this, too, because he has taken to sitting on the door of the next and rather angrily twittering at them. I can just imagine what he is saying: "Get outta there! What do you think, all we want to do is to chew up seeds, bring them in here and upchuck them for you?? Get up, find a job, you little freeloaders!!" But they sit there in silence, their black, beady eyes shining up out of the nest. I think Atticus has taken to drink. I found a tiny, empty bottle of Four Roses at the bottom of their cage.

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bookmark success! PrintPlace comes through

Well, folks, I have to give PrintPlace credit: after a true dramedy of errors, they came through with flying colors.

The order from PrintPlace came to my house, and I opened it up. The bookmarks looked pretty good on first inspection, but then I noticed that one of the graphic elements was missing. It was a minor thing, so I decided not to worry about it. But then I counted how many bookmarks they shipped me. I ordered 2000. I received about 720. THAT wouldn't do!

I called Nic back, and spoke with him about it. Strangely enough, although he was surprised about the missing graphic element, the shortage didn't surprise him. It seems he had received almost twenty calls that same morning from other people whose orders were shorted, so he was going to go down to the production floor and give a lesson in Basic Counting to the people running the presses!

Nice guy that he is, he set up a new order for me, told me to resubmit my artwork and make sure the graphic element was there, and he's have them printed (all 2000 of them) and shipped to me posthaste. No extra charges.

The order arrived Wednesday of this week, and I'm very pleased. All the bookmarks were there, and the artwork looked just as it did when I sent it. In fact, I'm so pleased, I ordered some more stuff from them the same day.

I figure, everybody makes mistakes. But only a good businessperson stands up and takes responsibility to make good on the mistake.

My take, anyway.