23 February, 2006

Well, it has been nagging at me for a while now that my last journal entry just went on and on about using Cafe Press' print-on-demand service to publish The Etymology of Fire without once mentioning any of my reservations about their service. Okay, I know I spent a great deal of time in that last journal entry going back over all of my reservations with print-on-demand in general or at least how I've always had this irrational and unreasonable problem with print-on-demand. I mean print-on-demand still makes me uncomfortable, but I'm still going to try it. Sure, it's taken me a little longer than I was hoping to finally get The Etymology of Fire posted, but that has nothing to do with my reservations. Delays in posting have had more to do with coming up with the text for the back of the book and with getting a cover image. The jury is still out on whether there will be a cover image since I don't know if I can make it look cool, but I remain hopeful. The other big delay involved the need to suddenly fly off to Oklahoma, which is all that I'm going to say about that. Anyway, my point is that The Etymology of Fire is all but ready to go. My reservations about Cafe Press have had nothing to do with the delay.

My biggest grumble with Cafe Press is simply the freaking price of the book. Cafe Press charges seven bucks plus three cents a page for their perfect-bound print-on-demand service, which means that at 317 pages of text The Etymology of Fire will cost a minimum of $16.51, and that is if I never want to see a dime. Sixteen fifty-one is the minimum that Cafe Press will charge. If I want to see any money out of the deal, I have to set the actual sell price higher. Now, personally, I wouldn't mind getting a buck out of each book sold, which means I'll have to set the per book sell price at $17.51, which sucks. It just sucks. Sucks giant donkey balls. I mean seventeen fifty-one is freaking expensive for a trade paperback book in my opinion. Oh, wait, trade paperback? Why not make it a standard paperback instead? Because Cafe Press charges the same rates for standard paperbacks and trade paperbacks, which means that a standard paperback would be even more expensive since a standard paperback cannot hold as many words per page as a trade paperback.

So, that is what makes me grumble the most about Cafe Press. I don't like it. Books just should not be that expensive, and a cover price of seventeen fifty-one means that I will only get about six percent of the money while Cafe Press will get a whopping ninety-four percent. Makes me sick. It just makes me sick to hell. I'll still work with Cafe Press simply because I cannot figure out a better solution since I don't have the money to get a whole bunch of copies printed-up myself. Oh, well.

The money situation isn't even my biggest problem with Cafe Press. Nope. There is a line in their terms of service that just scares me all to hell. Oh, wait, forget I said that.

See, to make sure I was going to get the wording right here on my concerns about Cafe Press, I just went checking back through their terms of service and discovered something really cool. Their terms of service are not as draconian as I was remembering. It actually contains wording that their royalty-free, worldwide, transferable, nonexclusive right and license to my stuff only extends about as far as is necessary to produce the actual items for sale. Now, I'm sure there is still wiggle room in there. I mean how far can you extend the need to be able to provide the service? Could they create and sell something based on what I uploaded that they would keep all moneys for claiming that such was necessary to maintain Cafe Press' existence? I hope not, but I'm sure they could if they really wanted to do so.

Can you tell I'm paranoid?

So, yeah, there are things that bother me about print-on-demand. There are things that bother me about Cafe Press. The question is if the things that bother me about the process are great enough to stop me from using the service. I want to self-publish. I want to have a stack of books sitting in a box in my apartment that I can sell. I want to drop a couple of copies in the mail to when they ask for them. Most importantly, I want the price to be a little less than seventeen fifty-one per copy, but I'm going to have to wait on that one. I mean for all I know the price of paper has just gone up to the point where that is what it would cost me if I did all the work myself. So, I don't know.

I guess my ideal situation would be to someday have enough money that I could sell the books for less than it cost to make them. I mean, what? That sounds kind of backwards and wrong, doesn't it? Going to loose money that way. Well, yeah, I know. I just want books to cost like five dollars or maybe eight dollars for a trade paperback. I just don't know if I'll ever be in a situation where I can do that.

Oh, well. In the meantime, I'll just be trying to work through Cafe Press, I guess. I just need a little more time than I though to have everything ready to go.

copyright © 2006 by keith d. jones – all rights reserved
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