Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots


  1. TRX says:

    I bought an ISBN when I self-published a book back in the late 1980s. I then got junk mail from Bowker for decades…

    One interesting thing is how much the price has gone up. Bowker wants $125 for a single ISBN now. I don’t know where I put the paperwork, if I’ve kept it that long, but I’m sure the ISBN didn’t cost any more than the copyright registration fee, which I felt was scandalously high.

    ISBN was a good idea… once. Now that the profiteering is solidly in place, maybe not so good.

    1. I bought a block of 100 in 2000 and have used about ten of them. I believe the cost was about $900, so yes, the price has gone up by an order of magnitude. I’ll continue to use them because they’re paid for, and also because I intend to offer print editions of all the book-length items I publish. I don’t know that I will apply ISBNs to short stories; I’ll have to do some research and think on that question a little.

  2. TRX says:

    > cholesterol

    “We don’t need no repeatable data
    We don’t need no Groups: Control
    No test results in our classrooms
    Deniers, leave our Science alone…”

  3. great unknown says:

    a) the 300dpi still doesn’t solve the problem of a small canvas. I learned to read combining reading and scanning “simultaneously” – but there’s not enough on an e-book screen to allow that.

    b) how does the ~3.00/reader compare to what an author like you would get per book if you followed the traditional large publisher/dead-tree route?

    c) does the per-page fee include rereading the book or parts of it?

    1. a) In some respects the Paperwhite was designed to replace the mass-market print paperback, which has a page of similar size. I wouldn’t try to read a technical book on it, though with 300 dpi to play with, monochrome art might come across very well.

      b) $3.00 is WAY more than authors get for MM print paperbacks. I want to say that MMP authors get about 50c per copy sold. The tradeoff is that MMPs get into a lot of bookstores where they’re seen by a lot of browsing customers, though not as many now as, say, ten years ago. With Borders gone and B&N rapidly becoming a toy store / coffee shop, the advantages of tradpub for genre fiction are shrinking.

      c) No. Pages are paid only the first time they’re read by a particular customer.

      I’m going to post a longish entry explaining why I’m going the indie route for my fiction in the near future. Technically speaking I’m not an indie (which these days means “self published”) because I’ve been a “real” print publisher since 1989 and have published several books by other people. I have a corporate framework, I have ISBNs, I have a network of publishing professionals, and I know how the business works. If I can’t make a go of it, I have no one to blame but myself.

      I’ll report on my progress here as it happens. Stay tuned.

      1. great unknown says:

        Thank you for the thorough reply. I do read many technical books, particularly mathematics, and I doubt the Paperwhite is ready for that yet.

  4. zeph says:

    I… err… Jeff. old man, 300 dpi kind’ve went out of style about 30 years ago. I mean, I’d be happy enough to see that rez on my screen, but it’s grossly obsolete? The “most inexpensive laser printers” were doing four times that decades ago, or were they half faking it through interpolations? Square me up on this.

    1. 30 years, no. 15 years…maybe. The LJ 2100s I bought in 1999 or so went to 1200DPI, which seemed staggering at the time. However, the other printers in our office were all banging out 300 DPI and no more. So I’ll meet you halfway and admit you have a point.

      Having watched e-ink emerge as a technology, I’m pleased if still a little boggled that it’s gotten up to low-end laser resolution. I guess I just don’t jade very easily.

  5. TRX says:

    > will make reading on e-ink mostly
    > indistinguishable from reading b/w
    > paper

    You say that… but I keep remembering Ace, Dell, and other publishers that churned out paperbacks at, what, 75DPI? Fuzzy text on coarse newsprint is a long, long way from a 1200DPI laser printer on slick paper.

    It’s sort of like the “letter quality” wars on dot-matrix and early inkjet printers. Yes, an IBM printballball typewriter against a single-use film ribbon looked great, but my old Smith-Corona with swinging keys against an inked cloth ribbon was well below the crispness of my first 14-pin dot matrix printer in “letter quality” mode. (though the typewriter was probably faster!)

  6. TRX says:

    I bought a book from Lulu. It’s a 400-page technical book, probably self-published because the subject matter probably doesn’t meet the “likely popularity figure” of most publishers.

    The printing is at least as good as any of the volume-printed books on my shelves, the binding seems OK too. The B&W pictures are very dark, to the point where some of the illustrations were useless. I’m going to email the author and ask him if that’s how it’s supposed to be.

    If it’s not Lulu’s fault, I might tell the author that for his ultra-premium price, I expect pictures that don’t look like ink blots.

    The price isn’t Lulu’s fault either; on his web site the author mentions his profit is $43 per copy on a $100 book.

    1. I don’t have a great deal of experience with artwork in POD printing. The POD material I’ve published was either fiction or nonfiction without art of any kind. That was deliberate, and if I chose to go the indie route for nonfiction (which is still an open question) I’ll have to do some experimenting. The sort of art I generally do for technical books is basically line art, drawn in Visio. I created a booklet for our church some years back that contained photos, and the big trick was making a color photo look good as b/w. I haven’t mastered that technique yet, and I intuit that it’s one of those things that’s a lot harder than it looks.

  7. David Lang says:

    just a note on 300dpi

    300dpi in print is monochrome, with grey requiring use of multiple dots in patterns.

    300dpi on a e-ink screen is actually better because the individual dots have some amount of grey capability.

    so for pure B&W they are the same, but as soon as you introduce something other than pure B&W the screens are going to be better.

    Even back in the day, there were professional printers that could do better than 300dpi, but 300dpi was considered the minimum threshold for publishable print.

  8. RH in CT says:

    I find the way the comments sections diverge on the two copies of your Diary interesting. (For those unfamiliar, see here.)

    1. I find it interesting too.

      I’ve been using LiveJournal since 2005; it’s basically a backup of Contra here on WordPress. I’ll probably shut it down once I get up and running. The crowd there is very liberal, just as the crowd here appears to lean Libertarian. I don’t know why that is.

      I get the sense that LJ is losing members in large numbers, and those who are still there have been there for a very long time. I get fewer comments there than I did four or five years ago, which suggests fewer people reading it.

      1. Erbo says:

        Given the nature of some of the comments, and your replies, over on LJ, I strongly suspect shutting it down may improve your blood pressure. 😉

        1. I’m good at getting along with difficult people; I had a very successful career in publishing, where getting along with odds and cranks and sheer loonies is a necessary skill. (It helps that I have a touch of all of that, and can make it work in my favor.)

          Actually, blood pressure is not my main problem. Low blood oxygen is, so hyperventilating may well be a plus.

          No, it’s not about the people. The LJ service costs money, and there’s very little traffic apart from people who have been there for many years. I’ll be hosting hardsf on my current plan, so it will have a zero incremental cost beyond maintaining registration of the domain.

          1. Michael Black says:

            That explains it.

            One time, I knew I’d commented, but it wasn’t there later.

            I have one bookmarked here on the tablet, but it must be the other one on my desktop. I hadn’t realized there was duplication. I must have come to both through different searches.

            Thus solves the strange case of the disappearing and reappearing comments.


  9. TRX says:

    Wow. That’s like reading comments on YouTube…

    For that matter I thought LiveJournal had folded its tent and slunk away years ago. [clickety] It looks like MySpace is still shambling along too, looking for Braaains!

    Further clicking led me to this map which claims to show the dominant social network by region. I can’t decode all of it since it uses that “color” stuff that I’m still rather skeptical about…

  10. Jonathan O'Neal says:

    re: New Kindle Paperwhite

    Shortly after I read your post, my wife left her beloved five year old Kindle (which was still going strong) on her car trunk before driving off. We were unable to find it (or its remains), so we picked up the new Paperwhite. Her old Kindle had pixelation that was readily visible, even at a distance. On the new screen, I can’t discern pixels even under 3x magnification. Between that and the LED front-lit screen, it’s very easy on the eyes. The only time it’s apparent that I’m looking at a screen instead of paper is during page changes, which still produce the same short-lived smeary blurs as the old Kindle did.

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