Monthly Archives: December 2009

D-Lux 4 Book Becomes Available on Kindle

Today the people at Amazon.com sent me an e-mail message saying they have published my book about the Leica D-Lux 4 book on the Kindle. It took a bit longer than I expected, but now it is available, though I had some trouble finding it in searches. One issue is that the Kindle edition is not linked to the print edition, so you have to search for the two editions separately.  I’m hoping that will automatically be fixed, but if it isn’t, I will send a message to Amazon asking that they be linked.

Not much else to report right now.  It’s somewhat quiet at home without all the hubbub of printing and binding books, but I have to say that, as of now, I don’t miss it, though I’m glad we did it.  I know Clenise is glad that phase is over, because now she has time to work on her own tax preparation business.  She has various webinars to listen to and lots of IRS information to read, as well as estimated payments to prepare for clients, so she can finally catch up on a lot of her own work.  And I am trying to move on to some other projects, while still, of course, monitoring sales and progress of the Leica D-Lux 4 book.

All Is Quiet

An aura of peacefulness has descended, which is appropriate for the holiday season. I’ve been able to clean up my home office to a large extent, because we’re out of the business of printing, binding, and trimming, at least for now.  Today, the guy from the local graphic-arts company came by to install our newly sharpened blade. We had a nice chat, and then he left. The last time he was here, about a month ago, things were in a state of relative turmoil, and Clenise and I were racing against the clock every day to produce enough books to stay one step ahead of the orders.

So, we’re both relieved, I have to say.  Clenise has straightened up her office, and again has time to take tax courses and webinars about her new tax software. Things are much more relaxed, and I don’t miss the excitement.

With regard to the Leica D-Lux 4 book, I’m still waiting for it to become available on Amazon’s Kindle. I think I’ve done everything necessary to that end; I responded to Amazon’s latest request for more information, and I hope it shows up on the site for sale in the near future. I do get some inquiries from people asking if the book is available in an electronic format.

Oddly, there have not been any more reviews of the book on Amazon in about the past week, and only 4 altogether.  At least those have all been favorable.  I had a glitch with Google AdWords earlier today, because I deleted the ordering page from my whiteknightpress.com site now that the book is available directly from Amazon, but I forgot that that page was tied to my ads on Google AdWords. Luckily, that deletion triggered a warning message from Google, and I quickly fixed the problem, so the ads are running again now. I plan to keep them running for a while, though they are costing me about $25.00 per day, and I don’t think it makes sense to continue at that rate indefinitely. Eventually I’ll cut down on them and see how that affects sales on Amazon.com.

Waiting for Kindle

Yesterday I uploaded the final version of the D-Lux 4 book formatted for the Amazon Kindle.  Today I received an e-mail message from Amazon saying they want to make the book available on Kindle, but first they need to have me submit some assurance that I am the owner of the electronic rights to the book.  I replied quickly, giving them the number of my pending copyright registration case and stating that I own all the rights to the book.  I hope those assurances will suffice, and that the book will be made available in Kindle form as soon as possible.

I had one inquiry today from a gentleman who would like to buy the book in electronic format, such as a .pdf file.  I replied that it will be available on Kindle soon, and may be available in other formats as well.

Both Clenise and I feel very relieved that we don’t have to keep cranking out copies of the book.  We both have plenty of other activities to occupy us, and even without printing, binding, and shipping books we’re both quite busy, so the switch to production by Lightning Source came at an opportune time.

I’m not sure how much more I will be adding to this blog.  I probably will stop making daily entries for now, and may make entries only when something of particular interest happens.

Christmas Activities

It’s a rainy, but still white from recent snow, Christmas afternoon. We’re getting adjusted to the new phase of book publishing, in which Lightning Source does the printing and distribution, and we sit back and wait for payment. So far, so good; the D-Lux 4 book climbed somewhat steadily up to an Amazon sales rank in the 3,300 range, though it has now slipped back down into the high 4000s. I’m finding it somewhat hard to keep from checking the sales rank; I don’t need to check it so often.

In other news, today the book was finished in its format for uploading to Amazon.com in a Kindle electronic version. I have checked over the formatting, which looked good, and have uploaded the Kindle version. The Amazon site says it may take a couple of days before the e-version is checked over and approved to be made available for purchase on Amazon. I set the price at $9.99, on the theory that people generally wouldn’t want to pay more than that for an electronic book about a camera. I considered setting it at $14.95, but decided I was likely to lose too many potential sales at that price.

Things are otherwise quiet. I’m hoping the D-Lux 4 book will start to sell some more copies fairly soon after Christmas, to those people who have received the D-Lux 4 camera as a Christmas gift.

First Day of the New Approach to Selling the Book

Today, on Christmas Eve, the landscape here at home has changed, and I believe it is significantly for the better. Clenise took what may be our last shipment of a book to an individual buyer to the Post Office, along with some other items, while she was running her last-minute Christmas errands. My book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera is now established as a product that, if all goes as it should, will be permanently in stock on Amazon. I believe that, if enough orders start coming in to Amazon, they eventually will keep it physically in stock. Until that time, they will have it in “virtual” stock, meaning they can have copies shipped directly from the Lightning Source facility in Amazon packaging as orders come in.

I have changed my web site at whiteknightpress.com to reflect this new setup. Now the only purchasing options mentioned on the web site are Amazon.com and camerabooks.com, the retailers based in Oregon who have sold quite a few of the D-Lux 4 books. I plan to keep dealing with them as well as Amazon, because they have a very good specialty operation to sell all sorts of photography books, and they have been very pleasant to deal with.

I have also started using the Amazon Associates program, which lets me put purchasing buttons on my web site, and will generate a small commission if someone clicks on one of the buttons and then purchases something on the Amazon site. I don’t want to get carried away with this system, but I have put up buttons for the Leica D-Lux 4 book and the camera itself on the web site. And, as you will notice, I have put a link for purchasing the Leica D-Lux 4 book at the bottom of this blog post.

I will try not to check the D-Lux 4 book’s sales rank on Amazon too often, but I will say that it has improved from the 37,000 + level that it was at yesterday. Earlier today it went as high as the 13,000 range, then dropped back to about 18,000. I just checked a minute ago, and it had spiked up to 7,062. So, at least that means the book is selling on Amazon, though I won’t get any actual sales figures until Lightning Source sends me its monthly statements.

Photographer’s Guide to the Leica D-Lux 4: Getting the Most from Leica’s Compact Digital Camera

A New Phase – D-Lux 4 Book Now Available Again on Amazon

You could say the process has now come full circle. When Clenise and I first started producing the book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera back in late October of this year, I signed up for an Amazon Advantage account, through which I shipped books to Amazon for them to keep in stock and sell. If you’ve read some of the earlier posts in this blog, you know that that process soon spun out of control, because Amazon first asked for 2 books, then 32, 32 again, then 265, and finally 419, if I remember the numbers correctly. At that point we had to stop and completely re-think the situation, because there is no way we can produce that many books using color laser printers and a manual binding machine, not to mention the manual guillotine cutter, which requires at least four cuts per book.

So, without repeating the history of the past several weeks, in a nutshell, I signed up for an account with Lightning Source (LSI), a large print-on-demand company that will print the books in Tennessee and make them available directly to Amazon.com and other major online retailers (but not to distributors to bookstores, in my case).

I just received the proof copy from LSI this past Monday, and I expected it would take a week or more for the books to show up as available directly from Amazon. But I checked a few minutes ago, and, lo and behold, the book is now shown as “In Stock” and eligible for shipping with Amazon Prime. I believe this means that Amazon doesn’t yet physically have a supply of books in its warehouse, but has them immediately available through LSI. Anyway, this is great news for me and for anyone who wants to buy the book, because they can order it and it will arrive quickly. Clenise and I don’t have to print, pack, and ship to customers, and we can get out of the business of maintaining laser printers, refilling color toner cartridges, getting cutter blades sharpened, etc.

So, we’ll see how this unfolds from here. I’m hoping the book’s sales rank on Amazon (currently 37,034) will go up somwhat because of the ease of ordering directly from them, and because Amazon can’t run out of books, having a direct pipeline to LSI’s printing operation.

Also, LSI just e-mailed to tell me they have shipped a carton of books to camerabooks.com, the retailer in Oregon, and one carton to me. So, although both laser printers have been working here tonight and Clenise has bound another batch of books (using our new shipment of hot melt glue pellets, which seems to be of better quality than the pellets we used for the last two months), we may be getting out of the book printing business for now, and maybe forever. We’ll see.

Still Printing While Waiting for Copies from Tennessee

I had visions of sitting back and waiting for copies of the Leica D-Lux 4 book to be shipped to us here in Virginia from the Lightning Source facility in Tennessee, but I checked on their web site and it doesn’t look as if those copies will arrive for another week or more, given the holiday season volume of work and the normal turnaround time. In the future I’ll be able to order enough copies to have them in stock, and I won’t need very many probably, because Lightning Source will keep Amazon.com and other sellers supplied directly. For now, though, Clenise has gotten both Brother color laser printers fired up again and sending out streams of nice-looking pages to be bound into finished books.

Clenise went to Office Depot today and picked up eight more reams of laser printer paper to keep us in production. I’m trying to avoid buying any more toner, because of the expense and mess involved. I’m hoping we can use up the remaining toner so we get our money’s worth from it, and then go out of the printing business, at least for the time being.

I had actually thought we might be able to ease off more than we have, because it’s now so close to Christmas that I thought people would stop ordering books for a while. They aren’t ordering quite as many as before, but right now, on Tuesday night before Christmas, we have seven orders left to fill — five color books and two black-and-white. Maybe now the orders will slow down until after Christmas. My thinking is that some people will get the Leica D-Lux 4 camera for Christmas and want this book to help them learn how to use it; we’ll see in a few days. Hopefully by then the Lightning Source books will at least be on the way, so we won’t have to scramble to print more books.

Checking Out the Proof

Today the snow that was left on the ground after the storm is still creating enough of a problem that there was no mail delivery, but the FedEx truck was able to get here and deliver the proof copy of Photographer’s Guide to the Leica D-Lux 4, as printed by Lightning Source in Tennessee. I was a little nervous opening the package, because I didn’t know how well my Adobe InDesign files, exported to PDF files, would translate to a final product printed by a large print-on-demand company.

The news was good, though. The proof copy of the book looks very similar to the books that Clenise and I have been producing since late October. Some people on discussion forums had said that color photos don’t look that great in print-on-demand books, but the photos in the proof look fine to me. I guess one reason for this result is that the photos in my book are not presented as great works of artistry; they are more in the nature of illustrating the capabilities of the camera. Many of the photos are simply photos of the camera’s controls or menus, and they don’t need to look spectacular. But the photos that are more colorful, and not just technical, still look very good to me. So, I was very relieved to see the excellent quality of Lightning Source’s color printing. Also, the book is well constructed and looks in every way like a very respectable book that I would expect to see on a bookstore shelf.

I have already ordered two cartons of 16 books — one carton for me, so I can fill some individual orders, and one carton for the folks at camerabooks.com in Oregon, who have been quite successful in selling the book through their web site.

Clenise and I are both really looking forward to settling back and letting Lightning Source handle the work of printing and binding the books, and even shipping them in most cases. This next phase of the project will be another interesting one, and hopefully less stressful than the earlier phases.

Digging Out; Moving Forward

Here in central Virginia we got a lot of snow from last Friday afternoon through Saturday night. Today was bright and sunny, though still cold, and I was able to dig out a path for the car in about three hours. Later this afternoon I took a group of about 12 books to the post office and dropped them off in the collection box so they can start on their way to their purchasers tomorrow. I do spend a lot of time on shipping; I use the U.S. Postal Service Click ‘N Ship service, which lets me print out the postage and address on a form to be attached to each package. It takes a lot of time to do that, but it has the advantage of discounts for the postage, and free delivery confirmation for domestic Priority Mail shipments.

Today I heard from a buyer in Spain whose book never reached him, after about four weeks. That’s frustrating for him and me, but there’s nothing to be done except refund his purchase price, which I did immediately. It’s quite rare that a shipment doesn’t reach a buyer, so I just accept the occasional problem as an ordinary part of the business.

I still have the Google AdWords campaign paused, because I don’t want to generate a huge number of orders right now. I want the book to be available to anyone who’s looking for it, but by now a Google search may find it anyway without having an ad pop up. I plan to resume the ad campaign later, once the books are being shipped by Lightning Source, but I don’t want us to have to buy any more supplies for producing the books ourselves, if that can be avoided.

Snowed In; Building Up Inventory

The predictions of a major snowstorm were not exaggerated. The central Virginia area is buried in a large dumping of snow. Right now it’s snowing again, and we may get several more inches before it’s done. I don’t like the feeling of not being able to get out to the post office to ship books, but that’s the situation. Usually on a Saturday I would make at least one trip to the post office to drop off the books that I prepared with printed postage from the usps.com web site, and to take the international shipments to the counter for processing. But the orders I have as of now will have to wait until at least Monday, when I hope to be able to be back on track with mailing packages. I posted a notice on the whiteknightpress.com web site to alert purchasers to the delay. Actually, though, I still probably will be able to ship the books within the required time frame for Amazon Marketplace, of one to two business days.

We have both printers printing now, one churning out color copies of the book and the other printing the black-and-white version that sells for a lower price. There have been several orders for the black-and-white version, and it appears that buyers do like having that choice, though the color version is still more popular by at least a ten-to-one margin.

Last night Lightning Source sent a message saying they have shipped the proof copy of the book, which is scheduled to arrive here on Monday, December 21 (weather permitting). It will be very interesting to see how that version of the book compares to our own printing. Hopefully we can then switch to using the LSI version, and reduce the labor-intensive activities of printing and shipping the books.