Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A Confectionary Wrap-up-- Books, One-off Books, and Floppy Books

Sean Michael Robinson:

Greetings all!

With Paper to Pixel to Paper Again done (excepting a few addendum single-topic posts), I'll be returning to more round-up-style posts, addressing whatever's on my desk at the moment, or any thoughts or topics at the top of mind at the time of writing.

This is going to be one of the former, as there's a lot to get caught up on!

Jaka's Story, and the Other Un-Printed (But Restored) Books

Despite what you might infer from the August Previews catalogue listing, the restored Jaka's Story has not been printed, and will not be printed until all of the existing stock is exhausted. There was some confusion about this, by at least two people, if my email inbox can be believed, due to the way that Jaka's Story was listed.

The very short version—each month Diamond chooses two back-catalog books by each publisher to spotlight in Previews. For whatever reason, the last time that Jaka's Story was printed (way back in 2008 or 2009 or so by Lebonfon), someone at Diamond appended the words "New Printing" to the name of the title in the Diamond ordering system. Now that we're updating the books, that obviously could leave to some confusion.

Yes, the major restoration work on Jaka's Story is completed, but no, it won't go to print until the existing copies are sold. If you want to purchase copies for your store, or for some of your friends, or even for your local libraries, I hope you will! But it won't be the restored volume, at least not for a while.

The same goes for Minds, and for Church and State II, both of which are also restored and could be a week away from delivering to a printer when we get the word go. But when these titles are actually ready for a new printing, you'll hear about it here first, not in Previews.

I'll be putting together a graphic for AMOC sometime in the next week to help keep things straight. If in doubt, you can always check with me at cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com.

Cerebus the Hardcover!

Well, sort of...

We're very close to the finish line now for the very first official Aardvark/Vanaheim Cerebus hardcovers... with a print-run of one.

Readers with long memories will recall that at the tail end of last year, long-time Super Patron and aardvark enthusiast Tim F helped A/V out tremendously with a $20,000 donation that enabled A/V to, among other things, cover the massive printing bill for the new printing of Cerebus Volume One. In exchange for this, Dave offered, how about your favorite two Cerebus books, in hardcover, original art-wise?

And, slowly, that's what we've done!

The legwork for this has been accomplished in baby steps. Just finding a printer in San Diego that will deal with such short runs, and can follow basic instructions, was quite the challenge, to say the least. Even with the printer I ended up with, I had to go through three rounds of proofs before they would do what I asked from them in the first place: don't downsample the files, and use your tightest screen possible. 

But, as they say, third time's the charm, and now they're ready for the finished files for the interior. I've finished the layout, so save a few pages that will need some de-screening to keep the tiny little tone from creating moire, we're ready to go.

As you can see from the above, I also did some experimenting with how to approach the layout/bleed and gutter in Indesign this time around, as the job has some peculiar quirks. The printer won't be doing the binding--that will be handled by an outside bindery, which has specific needs as to the gutter area of the printing (needing at least .75" of space on the interior margin in order to get the binding nice and tight). This, along with the borders present (or not present) in the scans themselves, has led to some rather limited choices on my part in terms of cropping etc. 

While the layout work is fairly tedious, the design aspect is a nice diversion. Last week, I spent some time putting together some really rough cover "sketches" for different dust jacket options, to get a basis of discussion with Tim on what he's looking for in a dust jacket. No surprise, Chip Kidd was a big touchstone in our previous discussion, so I spent some time looking for images to "Chip Kidd-ify" for each book, that would still represent the interior fairly well.

As I said, these are extremely rough, but hopefully communicate some of the possibilities and are at least a jumping off point for further discussion. Hard to not get caught up in all the myriad possibilities when things are so open-ended--almost better to arbitrarily pick and image or set of criteria and then start working from there to arrive at the finished design, as the "polish" portion can really change things aesthetically.

Note that the below images are the full dust-jacket, spine, flaps, FC, BC, and all.

So, will there be more of these one-off hardcovers? It depends! Are you interested in one of your own, for your own favorite Cerebus book? Would you also like to be a mega-patron? Then contact Dave via phone (519/576-0610) or fax (519/576-0955) and let him know.

This entire process of restoring the books one by one, and keeping them in print, has been an extremely difficult one, one that involves lots of up-front work (and therefore upfront money) with much longer tails on the payouts. It's people like Tim F, and the Kickstarter supporters, who have made this work happen, week after week, month after month, and in return we're trying to give you all what it is you want, some value and some paper for your money. 

A deep thank-you to all of you who continue to make this happen.

Cerebus in Hell?

If you haven't noticed from the post above this, The Death of Cerebus in Hell? is now available for preorder from your local comic store! Get it now while the Hell? is hot!

Speaking of Cerebus in Hell?...

Are you currently looking at the above poster and thinking, "Gosh, that would make a SWELL Cerebus in Hell? cover!" Then we need your brain! We're putting together a very special CIHell? and we need your help/jokes/cover gag! Send any and all ideas to cerebusarthunt at gmail dot com or post them in the comments, and we'll take a look at all we receive in a future post.

Lastly, also related to Cerebus in Hell... do you have a beat-up copy of any issues of the original Official Marvel Handbook? Do you have a scanner? Oh goodie! I'm looking for 300 ppi at-size color scans of, say, ten random pages of your Official Marvel Handbook. Anyone up for it? For the first two people who come through, we'll work your name into the resulting issue.

More (much more) next week...


Cory Foster said...

I've got a few volumes of the later Marvel Handbook editions that were hole-punched for storage in three ring binders. Are those worth anything to you?

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Depending on how many copies of the unrestored "Jaka's Story" there are, it might be the best business decision to eat the cost and put out the restored version. Those who know there's a better version coming are likely to wait and not buy the current version, and those who buy the current version and then learn there's a better version coming are going to be quite rightly cheesed off that they were used as cannon fodder.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

Wow! For once, I agree with Damian.

Cats andogs sleeping together...


Michael Grabowski said...

Or one person could purchase all the backstock and receive a very special hardcover edition for their investment.

I say that because I bet Dave is well past the point where any of these books provides anything like a steady income and eating the cost of the backstock probably renders a new edition near if not definitely profitless.

A stopgap option might be to make the upgrade available at Cerebus Downloads and sell that individually so that it generates some kind of new money from digital customers.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Aw, Jeff S., you've agreed with me before! I think it was my claim that after the storm is over, the weather will improve.

Michael G. inspires a good idea: what about some sort of bonus content for people who throw themselves on the grenade and order a copy of the old version? Send Dave a copy of your receipt proving you bought one of the remaining copies of the old version, and he'll send you some bookplates or a certificate or I don't know what.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

There are two Cerebus items that I would buy instantly. A Miscelany phone book volume and an Official Handbook of the Cerebus Universe. But I'm probably the only one who would.

Bob O.

Cerebus Restoration said...

Hey Corey,

Yes, I'd love to have them (or scans if that's easier for you)! Any interest in popping them in the mail (media mail rate) and sending them over? Happy to reimburse you for postage etc...

Hey Jeff and Damian,

It's not feasible to do so. Nothing's wrong with the earlier printings, so there's no reason to pulp them. We just have to wait it out.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

C.R.: There is "nothing wrong" with the earlier printings except for the fact that a better printing is coming and and has been announced. I think you're not looking at the deal from the customer's perspective. It's like telling people you'll start selling HD television sets as soon as you're out of SD sets. There is no reason to buy the current version, and every reason to wait for the restored version. Offering some kind of premium with the old version might tilt that balance of value.

-- Damian

Sean R said...

Hey Damian,

Sorry for the prior post--it was me, not paying attention to the login.

Jaka's Story has not been announced in a new printing. There will only be a new printing when there are no new ones left. This might be six months from now, it might be six years from now, but save all of those other (quite readable) copies being sold, we can't schedule another printing. There's quite a bit of stock on quite a few of the books, and it's totally impossible to eat the cost of all of that inventory. Much of which, btw, is Diamond's inventory, not A/Vs. I do appreciate hearing all of the ideas, though, and thanks for all of the feedback on this!


Tony Dunlop said...

But surely you see Damian's point. By your logic, I'm pretty sure the remastered Jaka's Story will simply never be printed. How many people do you think there are who would want one and don't know it's been remastered? Not many, is my guess.

iestyn said...

How many copies of Melmoth need to be sold before there'll be a new printing?
And Guys?
Just because I'm selfishly only interested in these!!

Sean R said...

Hey Tony--

I'd say most of the current sales are to stores that stock all of the volumes, stores that actively promote Cerebus to their customers, or readers who want to read it all now instead of at some (theoretical) point in the future where there are replacement reprints of all of the volumes.

You're right, it is possible that it will never be printed. I doubt it, but it's possible. But short of several minor biblio-miracles, it's how it has to be, as both AV and Diamond, AV's partner in each of these printings, own stock of the earlier printings. And it's necessary that the old stock (or the majority of it) goes before new stock is printed. And, as I've said, there's nothing wrong with them, and they're comparable to other print editions of the same vintage.

If you're a fan interested in the new printings only, there's one major thing you can do to help--buy them :) Every movement in sales helps keep Diamond interested.

Sean R said...

Some numbers to put this in perspective.

More than 4000 copies of Batvark sold and presumably read.

200-230 participants in each Kickstarter (something like 5% of the Batvark readers).

Somewhere between those two numbers? Regular readers of AMOC, who are interested/obsessed with Cerebus enough to read, re-read, discuss, and yes, purchase new editions as they become available.

Professional offset printing, by the very nature of the numbers, has to be about that first category of fan. Minimum print runs, depending on the printer and the price you're willing to pay, are somewhere around 1000 to 3000 copies.

Hope these post help explain things (even if it's not the answer you want to hear :) )

Tony again said...

OK - for more perspective, how many copies of "Reads Remastered" sold?

Sean R said...

If Dave wants to give exact numbers he's welcome to, but he hasn't asked me to do so. I can tell you that each restored volume has had a modest bump (closer to the Kickstarter number) and from then they're selling comparable to the previous printings. Not surprising given the lack of press coverage, reviews etc--most people who aren't AMOC readers seem to be completely unaware of the project. If that initial sale were closer to the Batvark number, you and Jeff and Damian would be absolutely correct, and we'd probably be proceeding in that direction.

This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint, I'm sorry to say!

Sean R said...

(closer to the Kickstarter number than the Batvark #, that is.)

Anonymous said...

What if someone with deep pockets were to buy in bulk? Deep discount from Diamond and A/V, Inc.? Can an individual (not a store or conglomerate) buy directly from Diamond? Or, perhaps I'm overthinking this: Just call your store, your LCS , and order 20 copies, or 50 copies, or...1,000 copies.

No, Jeff, wait. Wait. That's, like, (um, do the math)...a buttload of money.

Nevertheless, even though I have been paid for copy-editing JS, I *would* like to see it come out in my lifetime.

Can we, the Cerebus Nation, do *something*?


Sean R said...

Hey Jeff!

Yes. Buy the new volumes as they're available :) Write blog posts about how nifty they are! Tell your friends who like rad things.