Color and Print on Demand

16 02 2009

When I first started looking at various POD options, I paid attention mostly to the price of color printing. Mostly because the only book I was working on at that time was entirely in color, and I felt that it might be good to print it that way, also another two larger projects were projected to be in color.

Well, Din Krakatau is still not printed (preparing that first book is more difficult that I thought, but that’s okay, I’ll learn something at least), but that’s beside the point. The point was that the price of color scared me away. At this point Lulu was charging 15 cents per color page and it appeared I’d have to charge almost 30$ for Din Krakatau, if I wanted to make any money on the sales. Well, Ka-Blam ended up being cheaper (and only 13,5cent per copy) and over time Lulu raised their price to 20cents, thus making it impossibly expensive. that crossed Lulu off my list.

I decided that I’ll make Din Krakatau in both color and b&w, and then follow with future Amen City Chronicles volumes in b&w only. With much cheaper printing (2cents per b&w page) and smaller format (5×7.5inch) , the price drops considerably. But, this is supposed to be about color.

Recently I pulled out notes to some of my other projects, shocked to see that most of them were left untouched since 2006. How can I claim that I’m working on dozens of projects, if they’re just sitting there in the folders, right? So, I ended up revising and expanding some of them, adding bits here and there. Some got reformatted towards b&w. And then I stopped at WoN (acronym for now). How am I supposed to do that in b&w when this is THE color project that I want to do?

I returned to looking at options, approaching it from a different angle this time. Can’t have large color POD trades, too bad. I wish I could, but it’s not very nice to charge people 100$ for something that traditionally would cost 50$ at most (not to mention it would be done on a much better paper and possibly even in a hardcover for additional 10-20$). So I dircted my attention elsewhere.

Now, personally I dislike single issues. They’re short, annoying to handle, require some stupid bags and boards to keep them safe and their price is inflated. But in this case, it seemed the only way to go. Especially, since I noticed that the higher the page count, the cheaper price per page (since there’s a basic fee included in there too  that otherwise would be multiplied among a larger number of issues) and there was another thing. For some reason, at Ka-Blam, stapled books cost a lot less to print than trades do. Yes, lower page count etc. but that’s not what I’m thinking about. The price per page is lower.  Now, it is difficult to calculate the actual price per page in this case (as it seems to fluctuate a bit), but it appears to be somewhere in the 4.5-5cent range. And a color page in trade paperback format costs 13.5cent!

That’s a BIG difference!

This made me look over the stories and come up with a pretty simple idea. Do it as 48-52 page issues. This way the comics have a considerable page count, enough to tell a nice chunk of the story, the issue count is kept fairly low (basically halved) and I can keep the price at a level of let’s say 6.50-7$.

This idea also  opened another possibility for me. Single issue self-contained tales. Color Graphic Novellas? Perhaps I could call them that.

As I am writing this, I’ve been looking through unfinished scripts for yet another project, and it seems it would fit perfectly into a 7 chapter long series formatted that way. Another one fits into 13 chapters, and there’s perhaps 20 or 30 others that would form nice separate books.

This is something I’ll have to look deeper into.

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