[scribus] PDF X/1a:2001 again.

John Jason Jordan johnxj at comcast.net
Mon Aug 17 18:59:27 CEST 2009

On Mon, 17 Aug 2009 08:15:26 -0400
John Culleton <john at wexfordpress.com> dijo:

> > > If there was another way to get economical access to Amazon I
> > > would surely use it, but there isn't AFAICT.

> I am looking for four things in a POD printer:
> 1. Good quality printing.
> 2. Access to Amazon
> 3. Reasonable unit cost.
> 4. Ability to use my own choice of software: TeX for the interiior 
> and Scribus for the cover. 

I do only textbooks, so some of my methods may not work for others. My
specialty is books for which there is strong demand, but where the
volume is too small to print on a press. I publish only books that I
write myself, so I don't have to deal with royalties and "interference."

I started in the publishing biz over ten years ago. For the first
couple of years I used a large local copy shop. They did a great job
printing on high speed Xerox copiers from my camera ready copy. I
produced the copy on plain laserjets. The finished quality was
excellent. They did not have a binding machine so they farmed it out to
a local guy who does only trade binding.

In 1996 I bought a Laserjet 5SiMx brand new - $5,000, complete with
3,000 sheet input capacity. This printer was designed for large
corporate installations where everyone in the office would print to the
same printer. At 24 ppm it is a snail compared to today's models, but
it worked great for me. I still have it and I still use it
occasionally, even though it has over 6 million impressions on it. And
subsequently I bought several Laserjet 8000s, which are essentially the
same printer (90% same parts) but with advanced features. It doesn't
bother me that they are all only 24 ppm, because if I am in a real rush
I can just run several at the same time. The 8000s all have a 3,000
sheet output stacker so I can leave them running all day and all night. 

The neat part is that you can get completely decked out 8000s on eBay
for $500 today with copy count <100K. And they are good for many
millions of copies. The toner is not chipped and remans are available
everywhere for a song. My cost per page for toner is about 1/4 of one
cent (US) per side. If I run all four of my 8000s at the same time my
rated speed is 96 ppm. Find a 96 ppm printer that costs $2,000 and only
a quarter of a cent per page for toner.

At first I just produced the guts, but sent the covers out to a real
printer. In full color with lamination, a cover cost me about 60 cents.
And I used the same trade bindery for binding that the copy shop used.
The binder guy charged me $45 setup fee and 75 cents per book. I could
produce a 500-page letter sized textbook for about $5.00, printing an
average of 100 copies at a time.

Eventually I bought my own binding machine. And recently I added a
Xerox Phaser 7400DN for printing covers, plus a professional laminating
machine. I can now produce everything in house - and I mean literally
"in house," because the whole operation is in my house. I own all the
equipment and I can perform my own maintenance. I pay no rent, salaries
or other overhead.  

I sell all the books wholesale to university bookstores, although for a
while I used Amazon's Advantage program. Bookstores expect 40%
discount, and I set a list price of around $50 for a 500-page book, so
my profit margin per book is $25. I have seven titles of which I sell
1,500-2,000 copies a year. Most are smaller than 500 pages and the
profit margin is as low as $12 per copy on some of them. Nevertheless,
I have been making a comfortable living at this for some time.

After I discontinued Amazon's Advantage program (hopeless PITA, and 55%
discount, which kills most of my profit), I just put up a web site and
referred buyers to the university bookstores that stock my books. I
have no desire to sell one book at a time. It's not worth the effort to
package just one book and haul it to the post office.

I am about to see if I can enter into an agreement with some local
Amazon merchant. I will propose to supply them with a few copies of
each title on consignment, so they don't have to pay me anything until
they actually sell one. And I will give them exclusive marketing rights
except for sales to university bookstores. If they are big enough they
probably go to the post office every day so it's trivial to ship one
more book. I can also supply them with images of the cover and some
"look inside" pictures, along with the ad copy. I know there are a lot
of such Amazon merchants; I just want to find one local to minimize

I don't know if any of my business model is useful to anyone else, but
feel free to steal my ideas.

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