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Old 09-11-2005, 09:11 AM   #1
Molly/CA
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Default Cost of color?

My husband's colleague is in the process of dealing with UC Press's Science division for a book he's written, sort of a summation of his life in science. The editor (should be an acquisitions editor but we haven't seen that title) with whom he's afflicted first told him that the division and/or the press didn't do color pictures and that any photos could only be included en masse in the middle of the book somewhere (as photo sections were routinely done several decades ago). This is odd because the current output of the Science and Natural History divisions, where two other books by the same author are in process of being published, now consists almost entirely of coffee-table fluff with minimal content and color pictures on every page, with many interleaved color plates in addition.

This editor then told the author that they could publish a limited number of his color photos if he would pay for them. The price they quoted was $22,000 for about 25 photos. I believe that the press --the Natural History division, which is sometimes under the Science division and sometimes independent of it-- has already processed some of the same pictures for other books. The remainder would be supplied as slides --UCP's NH division's SOP.

So far as I know the photos would be quite small and fairly low-res in the printing (if the NH guides we were given as samples are anything to go by). "Quite small" --a couple or three at most inches to a side? Several to a page but we don't know the proposed size of the pages.

This man is the top of his field in science and a well known wildlife artist in his own right, and has published important books in the field with UCPress and the definitive field guides in his field with Houghton Mifflin. If this country had living national treasures he'd be one. He's also 90 years old and the most unconfrontational person in the world. We think that the press is taking him for a ride --extortion would be a better word. We believe that the editor has figured out that he would really like to see this lifework in print and that he can be bamboozled into almost anything.


So here's the question: does anyone here have a guess as to what the actual cost of binding in 25 color photos --probably 4 or 5 additional pages-- might be? The usual stated press run for the Natural History series is 700 hardback and 1500 trade paperback --assuming they're lying only to the same extent that other publishers do, that might mean 400-some hardbacks and 1000 softcover. As we understand it all the graphics work is done in China, from the processing of the slides to the setting up to the actual printing.

Thanks, all. This author has been a major influence in my husband's career from the time he was a wet-behind-the-ears grad student right into the now, when my husband's pride is that he's co-authoring the other book now in process. We've told the author, his researcher has told him, everyone to whom he's spoken of it has told him, that they're treating the jewel among their authors like dirt, that is to say, like all their other authors, and trying to cheat him out of money as well. It occurred to us that a few hard facts might delay the wobbling pen from signing the contract.
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Old 09-11-2005, 09:59 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Molly/CA
So here's the question: does anyone here have a guess as to what the actual cost of binding in 25 color photos --probably 4 or 5 additional pages-- might be? The usual stated press run for the Natural History series is 700 hardback and 1500 trade paperback --assuming they're lying only to the same extent that other publishers do, that might mean 400-some hardbacks and 1000 softcover. As we understand it all the graphics work is done in China, from the processing of the slides to the setting up to the actual printing.
I moved this to the Print Production section.

It doesn’t sound right to me, either. If you have the printing specs (trim size, number of pages, kind of binding, paper quality) — even if only roughly — you could contact a couple of book printers and ask for quotes. That would help put the proposed author charges in perspective.

As for having the photos in a separate section, there is one reason that might make sense: they could use appropriate stock for the photos. Rarely is text paper best for images (or vice-versa), so this can solve a real problem.

But if they plan on using a single type of sheet for the whole thing, they are just trying to cheap out on the layout.

Sounds as if he should find another publisher, if you ask me. Some publishers are right up there with some academic institutions when it comes to professing humane standards and tromping all over people (IMHO, of course). <g>

   
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:44 PM   #3
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I worked for a scholarly press a decade or so back (in Canada). I doubt they are tyring to rep you off, but it is possible that they are not the most efficient in production (although offshore printing does sound like they are cutting costs). I can't imagine they are "cheating" anyone, because they will be a non profit and will not benefit from cheating people. They are just trying to keep to a budget.

The bio information you gave is irrelevent. The cost of color will depend on the press run (from the projected sales of the book) and other factors, not how notable the author is. A press will generally not give away color, and it is normal that they are offering to let you buy it in.

Grouping the color is most economical. To run color throughout the book generally means printing the whole book four colour, and of course it is much cheaper to run 16 or 32 pages of color in one section. (You can probably get it split into two sections, so you have a section of "plates" in the front and back half of the book.)

I like KTs advice on getting quotes locally for runs in that size ... you will need to know the quantities being printed and the trim sizes. I would not quote the cost of the whole book, only the cost of one or two sections of color. If your quotes come in far below the $22,000 mark, you can ask why onshore printing for color is so much cheaper than offshore.

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Old 09-12-2005, 06:55 PM   #4
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Look for someone who has a Xerox "iGen 3" ...
get a quote for your project

MSD
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:40 PM   #5
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If your quotes come in far below the $22,000 mark, you can ask why onshore printing for color is so much cheaper than offshore.
What a splendid idea. As for this press ripping people off, we have two other books in production with them and they've NEVER left off trying to (torque) us up down and sideways. Only the fact that unlike many of their victims we are in business for ourselves and deal with contracts all the time has enabled us to head them off.

We've examined every book we could find in the two divisions --everything in our series and many in the other division. All are on coated paper throughout, and most have one to several color photos on almost every page. Most use color in text, one way or another, on every page. Many use double-page color spreads to introduce sections (no more chapters for these folks. It might help the reader find information.) --two facing pages with no information other than the topic that follows. This hardly fits with the line they're trying to give Dr. X. No author we know, and we know several, has been asked to pay the press to publish his book. Ours is a revision but other authors were approached with proposals for books in our series on subjects not covered before --they were approached, not the reverse, note. And paid --also not the reverse.

The relevant divisions have already lost several authors to other presses -- the smart ones.
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
I moved this to the Print Production section.
Thanks, I couldn't figure out where to post.

Our series' trim size is about 5x7. The other division has published some very large books and some quite small ones (dimensionally) and we're not sure they've even gotten down to specifications yet. See the other message --we haven't found any books in either division that aren't on coated paper throughout.
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:46 PM   #7
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Sounds great but what kind of place is likely to have that kind of machine?
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Old 09-13-2005, 08:12 PM   #8
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Well, definitely look at other publishers if you are not satisfied with what you are being offered. However, I suspect that the Press has decided that the book will not sell well, and this is what drives the use of colour, glossy paper and other things.

It may be that the subject matter is of specialized interest. I remember when working at the U of Toronto Press, a Journal editor told me that he expected that only three subscribers would be interested in some of the papers that are published, but that the journal existed to serve those three people with information that would advance the subject (math) as well as documenting the research. Books are different, but still university press books are often of such limited appeal that the Press has to get assistance to publish when sales are not expected to recoup the costs. Often an author will contribute publication funds from the original research grant.

However, each Press has its own niche. If you are dealing with a book outside of the niche of that Press, then you may well do better elsewhere. Another Press may see higher sales for a book if they publish related materials.

Unless you are locked in (and with them asking for more money, I doubt it) you might want to contact other Presses in your area, or ones that the Professor feels publish the kind of work that he has written.

Don McCahill
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Old 09-13-2005, 09:25 PM   #9
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We're not sure about anything except that our divisions are a bunch of incompetent bunglers and my husband & I wish we'd never agreed to the revision of his book (I did a chapter), which is now THREE YEARS behind schedule due entirely to their repeated attempts to rewrite it in ways that we can't afford --we are dependent on our clients' perception of professional competence and can't allow the press to make laughingstocks of us by inserting errors of fact and grammar (both specifically forbidden by the contract, insofar as it's in writing that changes must meet with author's approval.) Big mistake, and one my husband should have known better than to make: they set deadlines for him/us, all of which we've met, but there are no numbers for them. They think nothing of sitting on a chapter for six months --during the third of which the book was supposed to be in such stores as haven't turned their backs in disgust-- then sending us a complete rewrite (forbidden by contract) with a casual, oh, it's been sitting on my desk, I had something else to do. Like what? The one other book in production?

Sales don't seem to be an issue with the press. Dr. X's book has, in our opinion, a potential for very good longterm sales with a decent midlist publisher, as it's directed toward the teaching of an ecologically based world view and is full of anecdote --good, illustrative anecdote from all over the world and 80 or so years--. Unfortunately, the set 'em straight person who worked with him on the last major book died, leaving us to do what we can (not much).

I can't thank you all enough for the suggestions and commiserations.

M
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Old 09-14-2005, 04:27 AM   #10
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The iGen 3 machines are becoming more and more available.
If you are near any city, you should be able to find one.
Possibly a call to your your nearest Xerox office would
steer you in the right direction.

MSD
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