Book Review: Indie Publishing

After two books through Lulu.com, I’ve become very interested in Publishing on Demand printing.  But while these services offer printing (and some editing), there isn’t much towards style or even just making your book look cohesive and not just a jumble of multiple fonts and layouts.

I saw “Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book” on the shelf at Upper Case and I decided I had to buy it.  I read the book in an afternoon, it was that exciting!  The book, edited by Ellen Lupton, goes over everything you need to know for self publishing.

The book starts off covering all the various types of book designs, from novels to zines to portfolios.  From there it branches off into book design and layouts. How to pick fonts, the best way to set up your pages, etc.  While the first part of the book is directed at the Publish on Demand crow, the book does have a long section on fabricating your own books as well.  There are excellent pictures and descriptions that guide you through making hard cover, soft cover, stab binding, single signature, and accordion style books.  Many of these designs are actually quite simple to do once you see the directions.

The book wraps up with an excellent section on Indie Inspiration, showing all sorts of different book designs and styles. I found by the time I got to the last section, I was already raring to go, but these indie books certainly gave me some extra guidance.

While Blurb wasn’t rated the top photo book, and Lulu wasn’t even reviewed, the other photo books that were reviewed aren’t really set up for desktop publishing, more for photos only.  I’ve heard many good things about Blurb so our next book will likely be through them.

Craft Inc. – Book Review

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Lately I’ve been toying with the idea of selling some of my woodworking projects and some of my photographs.  I’ve done a couple of paying photo-gigs, and I’ve had some friends and family make requests for furniture pieces, however I’ve never really tried to go out and sell my wares.  While I enjoy my current job, I think being able to take pictures and build things and also get paid for it would be a great thing to happen!

So the other day I was in Uppercase (a review on this store coming next week!) which is an excellent little store in in downtown Calgary.  As I was perusing the book section, I saw Craft Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco.  the book is, as the sub-title states, all about “Turning your creative hobby into a business”.  Sounds like the perfect book for me!

To start, the book is a nice size, well laid out with cool fonts, and best of all, rounded corners (why can’t lulu do round corners?)  It is nicely broken up into chapters advising you on creativity, style, production and pricing, marketing and publicity, and many other topics.  These subjects are also supported by interviews with established crafters which lends a lot of credibility to what Meg Mateo Ilasco writes.

I found the book a great help in letting me know about all sorts of details I had never thought of.  It also really got me enthused about getting my butt into gear and to start working on selling my stuff.  Of particular interest to me was the section on pricing. While I understand that the book is directed at crafters who are making smaller type crafts (ie earrings, cards, stationery) the pricing basically states that you should charge:

cost of materials + labour (at around $20/hr or higher) + markup (100% of previous two) = wholesale price

wholesale price x2 = retail price.

I thought about this for my woodworking, and a project I currently have on the go would cost:

$35 +$160 + $195 = $380 retail.

I can’t see a lot of people spending this on my project, however I could see this working out better with smaller items.  Either way it gives you lots to think about.

Easy-to-Make… review of sunset books

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A while back I was perusing Amazon when I came across the book “Easy to Make Furniture“.  Myself being a fan of furniture, making things, and well, easiness, I couldn’t resist.  That along with the fact that the price was $0.01!!!  I could not believe it.  The packaging must have cost more than the book was worth to them!  They probably could have sold it to a recycler for more, thankfully they did not.  After receiving the book and being quite pleased with my purchase, I looked for more by the same publisher and found “Easy to Make Tables and Chairs“, for a fairly steep $0.06 (this one was in slightly rougher shape as well).  Anyways, enough about my bargains, on to the content.

Both books are from the late ’70’s and are well written with lots of diagrams and pictures to show how to make the various pieces of furniture, ranging from desks to chairs to tables and bunk-beds.  Some designs require no tools at all (a balloon chair?) while others need hand or power tools (you could do all of them by hand, but it would take for ever). While some of the designs scream 1977, many of them with only slight modifications (wood stain colour, etc.) could easily pass for a modern design.

A very nice feature is in the back of both books there are some basic guides to craftsmanship (best ways to cut certain kinds of wood, sanding methods, etc.) which I found informative and a good reminder of how to do the job right.  Fans of “Nomadic Furniture” will find the designs more stylish but also a little more complicated to produce (you will be pleased with the results!).

So far I’ve only made the book-case off the cover of “Easy to Make Furniture”.  The design was very simple and required a table saw and a drill press (you could use a regular drill as well).  I am planning to make some coffee tables and a desk, however I’m still trying to source some dark glass for the tops.

Overall, well worth the combined price of $0.07 I paid, I would gladly pay upwards of $10/book to be honest.  I can see myself making many of the designs (if slightly modified) over the upcoming years.