Mood Indigo - part 3 of 1 2 3 4

by Mike McNamee Published 01/04/2008

Other providers of photobooks offer additional services. Sim2000, for example, can provide full colour correction, parents and bragging books along with bespoke branding of the albums to the photographer's requirements, including boxed presentation sets.

Current prices do not yet get us into self-publishing territory of technical books or portfolios for sale to the general public (or perhaps delegates if you give lectures). Instructional photography books rarely sell at under £20, but allowing for a profit, you need to make them for nearer £10. The major academic book publishers have, however, cottoned on to the idea and retain less popular books on file, digitally, and then print one-offs, on demand. This is better than holding vast stocks of litho-printed copies and assists in keeping important but unpopular works in print.

Prices for esoteric technical works are, however, much closer to £100 than £10.

In his book Print-On-Demand Book Publishing, Morris Rosenthal expands on the costing and trade-offs of self publishing, PoD, versus offset litho (via book publishers and a distributor). In summary, for a modest paperback of 164 pages you need to print 750 copies before litho becomes viable (or at least breaks even), and this is for single colour, paperback. Apparently the average print run from Lightning Books in the USA is 1.8 books so the model seems well geared to ultra short runs. This, though, is not the same as creating a graphics-rich textbook.

This is the next step down that the prices must make - taking on-board the approach from the academic press (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, John Wiley, to name three) but producing full colour, graphics-rich books at the quality demanded by photographers. We asked Yophoto to estimate a cost for the production of a 'typical' instructional photographic book. They estimated a £35 unit price for 20-off, £25 for 50-off. This is for a 128-page book, full colour in 175gsm paper with a 300gsm laminated cover, perfect bound and including proofs. This is a cost that would not cause a company accountant to gulp, but does not compete with the typical Amherst Media cover price of such a book - typically £20 (sold on the SWPP website at perhaps £15). The author's personal take on this is that for books to sell to fellow photographers, the costing are not quite there yet but they are within shouting distance! The world of book-making is certainly changing.

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