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Re: Need some help, advice...

Well, the most I've bound of anything was twelve copies, and that got
tedious, but if I can answer you as an accountant rather than a bookbinder...

Has he approached commercial printshops/binderies, rather than publishing
houses? I wouldn't do business of any kind with people who actually
advertise for vanity press work, and a 'commercial' publisher is never going
to be set up to handle such small volumes economically, but you might find a
business that handles commemorative editions and not writers egos will give
an acceptable quote, and printers' quotes often vary hugely, depending on
the equipment they happen to have and how the job would fit into their
schedules. Altering page sizes can make a huge difference to the price
according to whether the work goes on one machine or another.

How is he going to pay you? This could be a very bad risk if he isn't
willing to pay at least a hefty deposit up front. If that's not possible,
and you're not buying in a lot of materials to do the work, you could
negotiate him paying in instalments as you deliver the copies.

Are you just binding, or also printing? If the latter, you do need to be
extra careful about making sure you get paid.

Can you 'subcontract' any of the work? I'd want to farm out the less skilled
side of it (cutting standard 'parts', folding and stitching maybe).

Is your 'workshop' set up for this kind of volume? Do you have the equipment
to handle more than one or two copies at a time?

Pricing: cost of materials may be easy to work out, while your time and
overhead (you paid for all your equipment, he shouldn't expect to get the
use of it for free) will be more an area for judgement. Rough out some
figures based on how many hours bookbinding you do in a year, and what your
total outgoings on items other than materials are, then estimate how long
this is going to take you. Don't forget heating and lighting the space,
rent. Materials costs should be marked up for handling, storing, accounting.
Do you want to do this as a loss leader, in the hope that all his friends
are writing poetry too? If so, be sure you're being realistic! Don't be
tempted to compare what you are asking with the shop prices of poetry books.
A friend of mine produced a limited edition of a family memoir for someone
recently. I think it was around twenty four copies, scanning in 'scrapbook'
items, and including wordprocessing the text. She ended up charging around
40 pounds (60 dollars) for each copy, printed on premium paper, but unbound,
and she admitted that wasn't nearly enough.

I'm in the UK, so I don't understand your income tax system, but if I
started doing this and I was scrupulously honest, I'd be paying tax on the
'profit', i.e. the charge for my time. I'm not sure our Revenue would accept
that a commission of this size was just a hobby.

Re storage, be sure he'll take the books away before you start falling over
them and finding you don't have room to make the next batch.

If he vanishes, and leaves you with 100 books and the deposit, do they have
any value at all? My father is currently making beautiful hand made paper
with the entire first run of the above mentioned family memoire, which the
printer managed to produce with the back-to-back pages upside down (I'm sure
there's a technical term for all of that.)

I should say that as an accountant, I can talk anyone out of doing anything.

Good luck.




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