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.


Formats formats formats

14 09 2008

After the template fiasco (look previous post), I ended up thinking and rethinking the format I want to use for my books in the future. Clicking through options at Lulu and looking at all the possible shapes and sizes, I have decided that 6×9 could be a good choice.

First: no problems with calculating a new Photoshop template. I checked already and it was pretty simple to set up (although I almost messed up that too by shrinking the live area to 4×7 rather than 5×8 as I wanted). No weird numbers like 6.625 or whatever happens in comics.

Second: the page size is not that much smaller than American comics. Sure, I’m loosing a bit in the height department, but the change is not that drastic.

Third: kinda nostalgic. The Live Area I came up with (set up somewhat arbitrary by myself to avoid anything important disappearing in the spine of thicker books) reminds me a bit of the old days when I was working on A5 sized paper.

Fourth: It comes both in soft and hardcover.

I discarded the idea of hardcovers earlier as they make the price rise for about 10$, which considering a color book would be a total overkill. But wait, I want to switch to b&w due to being able to work faster, color doesn’t enter into the  equation, seeing as in this format there’s no color hardcover.

If I understood their site correctly, I can even convert my project into a hardcover then, meaning I could probably use both. I love hardcovers myself and would love to have everything come to me in that format. Well, anything that features any type of art that is, text books can be in softcover, whatever.

So, before I loose track of where I am heading. This option finally won me over. I can have my books in hardcover (for about 10$ more), but I can also offer them in softcover for those who want to pay 9.99$ instead of 19.99$ or 14.99$ instead of 24.99$. I think it’s a good choice, but I’ll see what kind of complications arise as I go on with the future projects.

Options chosen…

5 09 2008

It appears my great POD search is over for now. After asking here and there and reading through several websites, faqs, blog posts and comments, forum posts etc. I have decided that right now (and hopefully in half year when I’ll be assembling Din Krakatau into a book form) there will be two choices to go with.

Ka-blam and Lulu.

Now, why these two? Well how about why not any others?

I’ve looked quite extensively into Blurb as a potential place to produce an artbook for myself, perhaps offer it for sale too. Their wonderful 13×11 landscape hardcover format looks… well, wonderful. I’ve heard their quality is pretty high and that now they ship worldwide and all. Except there’s one catch. No paypal.While getting a card that’s accepted for online shopping is not impossible, I am certainly not going to publish books through them as they currently pay only through checks. Well thank you very much, but if I sell two books in a month and make let’s say 20$ on them, 15$ will be eaten by whatever local bank agrees to accept the foreign check. Fuck that, I’ll wait.

That leaves me with Lulu for all my artbook/hard cover graphic novel options. While they don’t have 13×11, they do have 8.25×10.75 casewrap hardcover which comes out roughly 3-5$ cheaper than the quite similarly sized “Blurb Portrait 8×10 hardcover. I’m also missing out on the 7×7 square format, but Lulu has two similar square formats except in softcover. Well, whatever, got to make some losses.

Meanwhile, I have also crossed ComiXpress off the list of potential comic book publishers. Apparently their expertise shines in single issue format, while their trades come with various issues, often are being shipped late and they’re also very very slow at adding the book to their online store (and that very slow can turn into never) and with filling the orders from that store. While these might be complaints from a loud group of unlucky customers, I don’t want to risk my nerves to make sure whether it is so or not.

That leaves me with much pricier Ka-blam (which is still waaay cheaper for color printing than Lulu). While they don’t offer hardcovers, they do offer custom sizes, so the format stops being a problem there.

Other places I visited over the last few days either had no online store (and basically offered to me only the possibility of ordering some amount of books for sale myself, not wise if I want to operate on a foreign market… foreign for me anyway) or had other limitations. Createspace search for example generated a large amount of “promo press releases” etc. all over the web… and also a couple blogs, mostly filled with quality/payment complaints from customers. Not to mention that I’d have to register with IRS (which supposedly means complicated paperwork for a foreigner, especially me who’s always lost in these things). Other places were for photo prints only, and one of these had so outrageous prices that I could do nothing but laugh at that and close the browser.

Or just the tab.

So, Din Krakatau shall be printed through Ka-blam. Further color projects… we’ll see, depending on their nature. If they’re more traditionally comicbooky, sure. If a bit more experimental or single, very labour intensive volumes that NEED to be in hardcover, then perhaps Lulu?

I know that my b&w volumes shall be collected through Lulu (once I draw any that is, haha). As for artbooks, I guess the 8.25×10.75 hardcover is the only choice here. Switching to the 6×9 format just to save 3$ doesn’t appeal to me, especially since most of my Digital artwork is created in a large enough format for the big hardcover.

Ok, I am starting to ramble randomly, time to switch this off.