Out of the Frying Pan–Into the Frying Pan?

March 8th, 2011

Entry #6, Bill Ruesch recession-recovery diary

Dear Reader,

In my last post I mentioned redirecting my efforts toward book printing. Some may think that is a fool-hardy strategy, after all, e-books are all the rage. Paper books are passe. E-book readers are being sold everywhere. Amazon has the Kindle. Barnes & Noble markets the Nook. Sony sells the Librie and there are at least 8 other brands available including the iPad and iPhone. In fact, the e-book reader competition is so hot that it makes the war between BetaMax and VHS seem tame. It’s anybody’s guess as to which reader will dominate. I’m sure they are taking odds in Vegas if you are a betting person and want to get in on the action.

One e-reader can hold hundreds of books

There is even speculation in the industry that the Kindle by Amazon may soon be offered free, so if you haven’t been able to afford one yet you may get it as a bonus for buying a certain quantity of e-books.

So why would I choose books for a focus when the world seems head over heels for e-books?

There are two reasons:

  1. Over 700 Thousand self-published books were printed last year.
  2. I feel that we aren’t done with books yet. A tangible book has an intangible value over an electronic book. It’s tactile. You can hold it in your hand and savor the feel of the binding, the smell of the paper and the beauty of the design. Try as you might, there just isn’t any way for you to lovingly rest a signed first edition of an e-book in your library.

From my observations, self-publishers as Rodney Dangerfield used to say “Get no respect.” Being brutally honest about it, they don’t get respect because they stop short of doing the job right. Publishing a worthy book requires massive amounts of effort. It’s an exercise in attempting perfection. Readers who report that a book is full of typo’s, grammar errors, and poor syntax will persuade other readers to give your book a pass. No wonder most self-published books only sell around 50-100 copies. It costs a little to hire proofreaders, editors, graphic designers, and layout artists, but if you go cheap on your product you will get what you paid for–a cheap product that doesn’t appeal to the masses.

My specialty is printing, which I assure you is much more complicated than sending your masterpiece to Kinkos, or most of the on-demand printers. Yes, you can get a decent book printed if you know what you are doing, but so few do. I also know artists, editors, and marketers that can help self-publishers win. So, if you are a budding self-publisher and want the help of proven professionals don’t be afraid to call. It doesn’t cost anything to talk. My number is (801) 474-1270 or you can email me at billprintbroker@comcast.net.


 

If Discouraged, Try Something Different

February 23rd, 2011

Day 5, Bill Ruesch recession-recovery diary

Dear Reader,

Some may wonder if I’ve been sitting on my hands the last two years. My previous blogs could lead you to that conclusion, but you’d be wrong. For a quarter century (doesn’t that sound painfully long?) I semi-specialized in direct mail printing. Most of my customers were either DM agencies or in-house marketing departments of companies communicating with their customers through the mail.

We all know what happened when the recession hit and companies en masse pulled back on direct mail. We could see it coming. The Internet was making promises of delivering tons of new business at a fraction of the CPM. The post office, thinking in government logic, decided to bump up their rates to solve their cash flow problems. This awful triad of recession-fear–the Internet rainbow–and postage costs all but killed direct mail.

I said we could see it coming and we could, but no one thought it would happen so fast. It was literally almost overnight. One day DM was thriving, the next, BOOM the bottom dropped out.

In an effort to prepare my business for the coming crash, I had already been looking in new directions. I asked myself what I love, and determined that I love books. Wouldn’t it be nice to help authors print books and get samples for my personal library in the bargain? Yes, but moving into new markets takes time. It requires making new connections, and building trust.

To shorten the time I decided to begin blogging. I reasoned that the Internet would provide me with a minimal cost platform. It does, but the competition for attention is overwhelming.  I read somewhere that 17 thousand new blogs are started every day–e v e r y day.  That’s over 6 million a year!

There are many, many Internet “gurus” that for a fee, promise to show you how to drive readers to your site and earn you more money than God while you are sleeping peacefully on your yacht. I don’t know about you, but I shy away from these kinds of promises. I may be old-fashioned, but I truly believe that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

The problem still remains, how do you make an impact on the Internet when the odds are so staggeringly against you? The answer for me is to keep chopping at the tree. No one knows how many cuts it will take before it topples, but for certain it will never come down if you don’t wield the ax.


 

A Faint Voice from the Way Back Machine

February 22nd, 2011

Day 4, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary

Dear Reader,

The name for a watch without hands--broken.

I remember when the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons were first aired. I remember when pagers were the hottest thing. Why, someone could reach you even if not standing near the telephone. Yup, telephone answering machines, faxes, cell phones, digital watches,and personal computers have all be introduced during my lifetime. I tell you this to remind us all that this world is very different from the past–even the recent past.

The very first American web page went up in December, 1991. 1991, that’s only twenty years ago! Twenty years–I have sweat shirts older than that. Before that, everything was routed on a very limited basis through Switzerland.

How long has it been since you’ve seen a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman? What about a vacuum cleaner salesman? The world changed and selling has changed. Old fashioned selling methods don’t work as well as they used to–if at all. The trick is to keep the things that do work and toss those that don’t.

What still works? Human contact works. Through all the levels of wires, glass, and ceramics, the effective salesperson has to find a way to connect eye-to-eye with the customer. For repeat business there is nothing that can replace the personal touch. Without it, the customer is buffeted by every other company willing to buy their business with discounts and premiums.

In an Internet world how can you create a sincere personal touch? I’m going to have to mull this over. Do you Dear Reader have any thoughts on this?


 

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