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Why Edison Lee isn’t on Amazon: It’s printed in USA

Anne Hambrock has reposted an excellent article detailing how she and her husband John went about self publishing their first collection of his strip The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee. She mentions that they’re not selling the book on Amazon and offers this as one of the reasons:

Which is when I realized that we had never really told the story in its entirety all in one place. John did do three installments of it over on his Cartoonist Studio Blog but, it turns out that blog doesn’t list by topic, only month, so you’ll have a hard time finding it there. So I have transported those pieces over here and put them all in one blog post below. It’s pretty long but if you are thinking of making your own book collection, I think it’s also pretty valuable.

Some quick points in case you don’t have time for the whole article:

1) We wanted to use a local American Printer rather than outsource to Asia.

I have to commend their choice and think it is totally in keeping with the politics of the strip’s characters. I wonder if I could have done the same knowing that overseas printers are so much cheaper and therefore adding extra profit margin (or freedom to discount) that the Hambrocks can’t.

That said, it’s a great looking book. Excellent color, layout and weight (or stock?) for the paper both on the cover and interior pages. They’ve put a lot of work into this book and it shows.

I know I’ve linked the John’s post mentioned above before and if you haven’t had a chance to read it, it’s a good overview of what goes into self publishing a book.

Community Comments

#1 Anne Hambrock
January/31/2012
@ 11:01 am

Alan,

Thanks so much for the link! We made several decisions about producing the book that were not smart if one is only looking at the bottom line or qualifying success as fiscal profitability. But the result is a book that we are very proud of and happy with. And, as you mentioned, producing it using a local American printer was very important to us, partly so we could look at things on press, but largely because we feel strongly about supporting our local businesses in every way we can.

#2 Tom Richmond
January/31/2012
@ 11:04 am

I also commend John and Anne for their decision to print in America. I can relate, I struggled with this same decision when I researched printing my book last year. Ultimately I went with a Korean printer, but only after calling a dozen US printers and trying to work on ways to get the prices down. The cheapest quote I got was from a printer only 60 miles or so from my house. I said I would pick up the order myself to save shipping costs, and agreed to every possible arrangement that would lower the price without sacrificing the quality of the printed product, including waiting twice as long for the product than having it printed and shipped halfway around the world.

The best price they could offer was still over TWICE the price of printing it overseas, and that includes shipping it to my doorstep from Asia. TWICE. I just couldn’t justify cutting my profits in half or having to price my book $10 more. I would have gone with 30% more, maybe even 40%. But 100%??

Kudos to John and Anne.

#3 Rich Diesslin
February/1/2012
@ 2:29 pm

I had about the same experience as Tom, especially going full color for the inside it’s very hard for US, Canada and even POD printing to keep the price down to the point where you have a good sales price, can cover your risk and maybe even make a bit on it.

Thanks to Anne and John for posting lessons-learned though … should help a lot of people thinking about self-publishing. There aren’t too many “neutral” sources you can turn to get a handle on the issues.

Currently I’m at the point were ebooks for color and POD for a b/w version of the book is the lowest risk way to go. It would be an entirely different decision point if I had an expected minimum number of sales with each offering (e.g. 3,000 or more would make it an easy decision point to print my own full color paperback).

#4 John Read
February/1/2012
@ 5:35 pm

I have nothing but the highest respect for John and Anne (which they hopefully already know) and certainly understand their decision to “go local.” I, too, wanted my magazine STAY TOONED! to be an all-American product, and even used a local printer for the first two issues (until they doubled their price), before trying a Virginia printer for the next two, then found another local printer who’s been able to match the out-of-state company for the last two. Unfortunately, I’m finally going to have to consider an overseas printer for future issues because, like Tom, I cannot continue to justify cutting my profits (especially since it’s not really a for-profit venture) by paying so much to print the magazine when it sounds like I could cut that expense in half. I can’t get around the postage charges, but maybe I can find a foreign printer who can deliver the kind of finished product I desire. We’ll see.

#5 dave nelson
February/9/2012
@ 4:49 pm

Just received the book yesterday. It’s a great collection! I’m really enjoying the little extras sprinkled throughout. The comments about what the editors did and didn’t allow always intrigue me.

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