Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rare & Collectible Offcuts; Amazon, do I see your hand in the Cookie jar?; Googlicious

So being a press, you generate excess paper, right? This I quickly picked up and I've been religiously setting aside pieces of cut paper for reuse as scrap paper at all the areas of the bookstore. We now have more paper than we can doodle on in 3 months.

But we also ended up with these weird remnants that were glued together. Within the first few days I thought they'd make a great little notepad for myself. I didn't think further than that because, frankly, I'm an odd duck and what pleases me doesn't necessarily please others... So weeks went by and one day this excited lady knocked on my glass door. I was thinking "yes m'am, the machine prints books, in blah, blah...", but when I opened the door she exclaimed "Where did you get that notepad!?" I laughed and gave her a free one, and she said "You should sell those, they'd be popular." And so I did; and so they are. And we have trouble keeping them in stock.

C'mon on people, order books so I can put more offcuts out for sale!

I'm not sure I'm ok with this. There are many things that should be looked at. Firstly, if I've already purchased, say 1984 (yes, that choice is on purpose), Amazon now says that I can 'upgrade' my physical copy to be used on the Amazon Online Reader. I can search it, I can annotate, I can print from it. Wow. And Amazon keeps track of all of that. For one thing, privacy is a thing of the past. Of course if I'm anal, it means I can keep all my first editions clear of marks and write up all my insights on my' UPbook' (and all that content will be mine to own, right?).
Secondly, is Amazon cutting the publisher and author into any of the '$3.99' fee? Surely they can't justify not paying royalties simply because the customer bought a physical copy. Because if that's the case I have some Kindle titles I'd like to 'downgrade' for my bookshelves. That should only cost me $4, right? Right? Is shipping extra?

An interesting day here in Ginger land, with an another round of Google editions: A Ex-Michgander's nostalgia for his home state had produced "Early Mackinac: an Historical and Descriptive Sketch" ; two university students shyly approached my office, and I asked them if they had questions. After a moment I discovered that they'd already searched the online database and wanted a book. I invited them in (during non-public hours-GASP!) and we found their book, which I printed before their very eyes. The book "The Iliad" edited by Walter Leaf, is over 400 pages of the epic in greek with copious english notations. It was pretty cool to flip through. It was even better to see the look on their eyes as Ginger worked her magic. Stuff like that will keep me from getting jaded. And finally, I actually printed a book for myself! In my non-Press downtime I do freelance design and illustration. One project is for a child's version of the Hindu Epic, The Ramayana, written by the delightful Janet Brown. In the process of creating the illustrations I've been researching the artistic history of the legend, and while I've found great images online and in books for costuming and design, I haven't found consistency about the weapons and armor used by warriors. Until now. "The Art of the Attack: Being a Study in the Development of Weapons and Appliances of Offence, From the Earliest Days to the Age of Gunpowder". It has lots of information and illustrations. Hooray for Google Editions!

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