Today we received sample copies of five reprints we’re having done in China. The books are:
The Aluria Chronicles
Desire of the Gods
Yaoi Hentai 1
Yaoi Hentai 2
It was a strange and occasionally rocky road dealing with this new foreign printer, but the results are terrific. The books look great. I’m glad to have copies of the first three with correctly price-embedded bar-codes (a problem the first time around) and also glad to have shrink-wrapped copies. I didn’t shrink-wrap many of our early 16+ books. Some book stores wouldn’t carry them because of it.
The Chinese printer is capable of reproducing both screentoned and grayscale art work. My current USA printer can only handle grayscale. If I gave them screentoned pages (where the shading is many little black dots instead of solid grays) there would be moire patterns. These are hideous checker patterns all over the gray areas. The printer I used prior to them could not handle grayscales, only screentone shading. The result was that some early books were formatted as ‘dot bitmaps’ (many little dots to give the illusion of gray shading) but every book from The Aluria Chronicles onward were solid grayscales.
Essentially, I had switched from a specialty graphic novel printer to a general prose book printer. The prose book printer was able to reproduce photographs or other black and white illustrations for the interior of their books. Their presses were set at a linescreen that automatically converted solid gray shading to tiny black dots (like a black and white photocopier might do when copying a color picture). For whatever reason, their presses can’t handle art work that’s already little black dots. Hence moire patterns.
Graphic novels are much more expensive to print than prose books. By finding a way to work with a normally prose-only printer I was saving upwards of $3,000-$4,000 a book on printing. Honestly! I also have the benefit of being this small printer’s number 1 client. It’s not only because I’m giving them so much business, but because apparently my books are a breeze to print compared to their other clients. My representative there told me how much they loved getting a Yaoi Press project. The files are ready to go. There’s no going back and forth to tweak page number location, or photo contrast, or overall book size. We send them a CD-ROM and a print-out. We get a PDF proof online two days later. (No need for them to send us hard-copy proofs after so many books; all the editor is doing is checking for last minute typos or screwed up pagination). My copy editor approves the proof. Ten days later we get a case of books in Las Vegas, and notification that the rest have arrived at the warehouse in Tennessee. It’s 14 days door to door. If I need a rush they’ll make it happen. They’ve never failed me. This is Patterson Printing in Michigan, FYI.
The huge amount of money I save with Patterson made China much less of a bargain. However, when I’m able to send them multiple books at once I do see a savings of $800 or so. Unfortunately, the turn-around with China is three months. That would be fine since books are normally done three to four months in advance to send galleys, but I don’t have any savings when I send them just one book. (Just all the hassle that comes with a language barrier, different standards of paper weights and measurements, different forms of paper [wood-free paper?] and generally weird business practices). I need a pile of several books printer-ready in order to see a real benefit. That’s the only place they have the USA printer beat on price. I reach a certain plateau with the USA printer where the price per thousand can go no lower no matter how many I print. The price continues to decrease with the China printer.
I should mention that the two hentai books were sent to Hong Kong, and the rest to mainland China. Mainland China is cheaper, but naturally won’t handle outright pornography. I was surprised (and glad) that Hong Kong would.