and not only am I looking forward to poring over the content, but also I’m very glad to have satisfied my curiosity about the printing. Because selected days is printed by online POD outfit Lulu.com, and I was very interested in seeing what the quality would be like.
A few months ago, my mom had a solo show at her gallery, and though the gallery made some photocopied price lists, it did not print a catalogue. Mom likes to have stashes of catalogues, postcards, pamphlets, and other treats to give to people she meets—and especially to prospective collectors—so she asked if I could help her produce a small full-color booklet in a run of 20 to 100 copies. At first I said, “No problem!” but when I started gathering details from her, I realized what she wanted was not so doable. The key requirements were:
- 32 to 64 pages
- 4-color throughout
- must have a spine, so it doesn’t get lost on the bookshelf
The books didn’t need to be ready in time for the show’s opening—which was then about three weeks away—but they should be available before the exhibit ended.
Hmm. Okay . . . and what did she want to pay for this? Oh, not more than about $500.
Eep! Um, never mind.
Being a dutiful daughter, I priced it out at a bunch of printers I used to use for promotional materials when I worked at the Scrappy Downtown Independent Publisher About Which We Do Not Talk. None of them could do anything like this for less than a thousand bucks. Then I asked a designer friend, who had some clever ideas for less expensive promotional giveaways—e.g., a packet of 4/c postcards in a swanky envelope with a handsome label. Mom really wanted a book, though, and she really didn’t want to blow a grand on it. Result: nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. We gave up.
Sadly, only after the show was long over did I read about Lulu.com, which would have been ideal:
For $530.25, we could even have made a stack of twenty-five 8.25 x 10.75″ hardcovers! Or we could have made none of them, but just let people know they were available to anyone who wanted one. There being no minimum order changes everything.
But, of course, all this is useless if the quality’s no good. So how does Elizabeth’s book look?
I think it’s pretty nice. The stock and binding certainly look convincing, and the type that’s solid black is crisp (most of the text in selected days is screened to a dark gray; it’s perfectly legible but you can see dots if you look closely). The images are about the quality of a good color photocopier, which is essentially what Lulu.com uses—specifically, a Xerox IGen 3. The color range is a bit clipped, and solid areas are blotchy, but without seeing the files Elizabeth sent, I can’t say whether this is the fault of the printer or the camera. Lulu asks that you not change the color profiles of your images, so presumably the IGen 3’s “built-in intelligence to maintain color fidelity” is supposed to deal with it. Since pricing is purely per unit and there’s no set-up fee, conceivably you could tweak the colors despite their request and order individual books as proofs until the photos looked the way you wanted. My mom’s really picky about color—she’s made Modern Postcard re-run jobs for her more than once—so there might have been some grumbling over that, but I’m sure she would have been very happy with every other aspect of this book.
So now I’m thinking, What else can I make a book out of? Because how fun is that?
And I can’t wait until lunchtime, when I’ll get to read Elizabeth’s book from cover to perfect-bound cover.