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A Long Time Coming

July 23, 2012

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Check this out:

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We have come out with a new edition of Small Mountain Rambles.   This one is a really special, I wrote it in Los Gatos, it was edited in Los Gatos, it was re-written in Los Gatos it, it was put together in Los Gatos (this is what they call “publishing”), and it was printed in Los Gatos.  As my Art Bridge stuff is all about recognizing and utilizing the local Los Gatos artists and artisans in Los Gatos projects, we went to a lot of trouble to get this special edition out.  The only aspect that was done out of the town limits was binding the body text to the cover.  There almost no printers left in town (on the way out like bookstores), and there are certainly no binderys. Bye the way, as the Los Gatos Art Bridge is a pretty informal entity, me being the only real member, I took the liberty to give this edition of my book my seal of approval, er?, the Art Bridge’s seal of approval.

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Back when all there was was offset printing to reproduce documents, not computers, I was the front end guy, I was called a “camera man/stripper.”  I would take an image and through a complex chemical-mechanical process, I would give the printing press a mechanical device, a printing plate, from which the pressman could produce endless reproductions of the initial images our clients gave us.  So, with this new edition, once again I did my magic and prepped the image so the pressman, Joe Aceves (owner of Accent Graphics on Alberto Way), could reproduce my images.  Unfortunately I was the client as well as the camera man/stripper so, we didn’t get endless copies.  I could only afford 50.  I picked them up from the bindery on Friday and sold a few over the weekend.

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Johnny Hannegan has suggested that I have a book signing in their patio, especially on the last Sunday of the month when Bill the Oyster Man is there plying his trade.  That doesn’t give me a lot of time to prep and publicize a book signing but I’ll give it a try.  Bill said he’d bring some extra oysters.  Thanks Johnny for the patio offer.

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In order to fit Joe’s equipment, we had to change the size of the book so I had to do a completely new layout of its 280 pages.  It was a lot of work and I hope we sell all of the 50 so we can print a longer run (more books).  As this edition will probably only be bought up by Los Gatos locals, a limited market, I added $10 to the price of each book.  The outrageous $32 per “pocket book” will still never pay for all the work this effort took but, hopefully, it will accelerate sales of the commercial versions produced by the web publishers: the paper back at $21.99 and the e-book for $10.99.  This a labor of love, so, it needs purchases of love . . . ? . . . , I got it, love of Los Gatos.  Let’s get the word out.  Talk it up.  That’s the best promotion.

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In case anyone is wondering how this all got started, it was Joe the printer’s fault.  When I got a small collection of books from the web publisher, Lulu, I took one to Joe’s shop and showed it to him.  He checked it out for a few minutes, and being the calm and quiet fellow that he is, he didn’t get all excited, he just turned it over a couple of times.  Then he said the totally wrong thing,  “I can do it cheaper and better.”

“Oh yeah?  Show me the numbers” I dare him.  He takes a pencil from his ear and scribbles on a shred of paper floating round his front counter.  He dramatically draws a circle around a number and shows me the scrap.  His price per book was substantially lower than Lulu’s which surprised us both.  This was against all modern logic about computers doing everything cheaper and better (which I’ve never copped to anyway!!!!).

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Then he threw the dare back to me, “So, Mr. Art Bridge, what about printing it here in town?”  He had a point.  I built up the scenario in my head.

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“Why not?” I asked.  “Can you make a proof (a single copy as a sample of we could expect)?  Joe said he could, and would and we were now on a new road.  I hand him a memory stick with the book’s body text on it and let him go at it.   A few days later he calls and tells me his equipment can’t economically produce the same size as Lulu’s book.  If it was an inch shorter, he could do it for his predicted price.  As a camera man/stripper I come up with a simple, straight forward solution, make the type one point smaller and add a few pages, no problem at all!

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I picked the 50 finished books from the Santa Clara bindery and the first place I go is to Joe’s shop.  We each pull a book out of the box and start fanning through them with a printer’s eye, is the type straight, are pages aligned, is there enough glue in the binding, are the blacks really black and the whites really white?  We toss a few observations back and forth.  After several minutes, we each set the books down.  We looked each other in the eye and agree, “they don’t look too bad”  and we both smile.  And we both finally admit, it was a hell of a lot more work than we expected.  It was grandly more but, hopefully, it was worth it.  As artists, about our art, it was worth it, we did pull it off.

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