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edition budgeting, profit margins and such



Re-posted at Peter's request.

Replying to Peter's query about edition budgeting, I'll tell you what we did
at the University of Alabama in publishing Parallel Editions publications
while I was there. Of course, keep in mind that production costs came from
our (very small) budget and the labor was a combination of student work (for
credit) & faculty work and input (salaried as part of the whole job of book
arts professorship).

So, with that as a ground-of-being:

Manuscripts were solicited from authors. No payment in lucre, but an
agreement to provide the author with a percentage of the edition (both
regular and "special bindings") - usually 10% of the books produced. Any
additional books desired were at a discount from the publication price.

Illustrators & calligraphers were offered the same terms, but less copies
from the edition.

Each person who worked on the book (students and fac.) also received one copy.

The rest were sold, usually through Granary Books. They set the price
according to the market (in NYC) and took a 40% percentage. The remainder of
the sale price came back to the book arts program to fund another project.
Obviously this was not much money coming back...but it kept the small
publishing program alive. There was no "business plan" or "marketing plan"
formulated for this book arts endeavor.

I designed all the bindings for the Parallel Publications editions, with just
a couple of exceptions, from 1985 until 1997, and bound all the special
copies myself. This usually meant special bindings on 10-20 books for each
edition published. For this there was no remuneration, but a bound copy of
each book to keep, plus a copy in sheets. These binding efforts were not part
of my job, but something done because of the need, for the good of the school
and love of the craft.

The idea for the genesis of this particular book arts program was generated
from the forum of making money for the university from a publishing endeavor,
i.e. being self-supporting. I am not at all sure about the success of this as
a springboard for an educational program. There was tremendous pressure on
students who were just beginners to make perfect, saleable items immediately
upon enrolling. Still, it endures and lovely work was done on student
projects.

It was always difficult convey the importance of budgeting for the binding of
books at the outset of any project. Sisyphus and that rock, all through
history!

Often, there was little production money left when it came time to do
binding, or no more time in a semester to complete the work after most of the
15 weeks had been devoted to publication design and printing.

It will be interesting to see how other programs and individuals manage their
publication costs, plus how the discussion will go concerning the business of
editioning books. Thanks for opening a forum for this.

Paula Marie Gourley

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