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quantities. For example, high-density 5.25-inch colored disks can have printing on them and be duplicated from about $1.10 each for 500, 90 cents in quantities of 5,000. The 3.5-inch diskettes would be $1.50 each for 500, and $1.25 for 5,000. Customized packaging costs are all over the price map because there are so many possibilities, but the price can still be reasonable."
Jim showed me some examples of custom jobs that his company has undertaken. One electronic publisher had a sturdy, high-quality cardboard mailer for floppy disks produced in one color for 75 cents each--less than the retail cost of buying an inferior mailer from a stationery store. For the 3.25-inch disks, a plastic "jewel case" costing only 60 cents each protects the disks and makes an effective container for a printed insert, similar to the way that audio CDs are packaged for retail display.
You can even put your disks into a sealed plastic bag for about 25 cents a piece, and have that form a complete package if you include a printed card insert as a front "cover," and a card stiffener at the back. Author-publishers can do this kind of packaging themselves as a kitchen-table operation, using self-sealing bags or the heat sealers sold for packaging food for the freezer.
You can enclose the finished package in an envelope, printed in one color, for delivery. Most desktop printers and copiers can generate envelopes if they are not too thick. I tackled this task by printing a master off my laser, then duplicating it on envelopes fed through the by-pass sheet input of my copier. In this way, the envelope follows a straight path through the copier and is less likely to jam or get crinkled.
Before buying a large quantity of envelopes, check their suitability for this type of printing. Some have adhesive on the flap that cannot cope with the heat required to fix the image in a laser printer or a copier. Of course, don't use envelopes that have metal fasteners!
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Jim Moreton emphasizes how a customized full-color diskette can enhance your image and credibility, making it stand out from all the other electronic and print materials competing for attention. Research indicates that a typical recipient of a promotion on a customized disk will spend between 26 and 30 minutes interacting with it. The response should be even more impressive if the disk contains an electronic publication that the end-user has actually requested and probably paid for.
Customized disks are available in all formats and a wide range of colors, with surfaces that will take almost any design printed in one or several contrasting colors. You get very impressive results using just a single color, as demonstrated by OmniPATH in Fig. 8-3, with its striking design of black print directly on a white disk cover.
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If you want a full-color graphic, the economics of volume suggest printing one label that can be stuck onto all the disk formats you are likely to require. Packaging different disk sizes is a real challenge. Creative Disc rose imaginatively to that challenge for Lotus's Ami Pro demonstration disks in both 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch formats. A sepia-colored teaser photograph is featured on the cardboard packaging, and repeated on both sizes of the disk contained inside. The smaller 3.5-inch disk nestles in a slot in front of the larger disk.
Expect to spend a total of about $5 a unit for such packaging and the accompanying disk duplication in runs of about 1,000, dropping to perhaps $3 for big runs of around 5,000. The results for an appropriate electronic publishing venture could make that very cost-effective, and highly competitive with print.
If budgets are tight, however, consider just having your disks generically customized with a distinctive color, title, and your publishing imprint. Then, for small runs of a particular title, add a stick-on label with details specific to that disk. Anything is possible, as Pat Baldwin and Creative Disc both demonstrate, at opposite ends of the publishing scale.
You can contact Jim Moreton at 408-988-8533.
Impressive results can be achieved for short runs by embossing in metallic foil on just a small area of your packaging materials. Your local office supplies store probably stocks kits for this that work with your laser printer or copier. They might also have preprinted color paper, with borders or other artwork, onto which you can print or copy your black text. You can also get foil printing on the disk itself, which can greatly enhance its perceived value.
Many newer personal copiers have the ability to take toner cartridges in different colors, enabling simple multicolor printing to be done on the desktop. Create your packaging design with paint or drawing software that will generate color separations, one master for each color. Alternatively, create the masters by deleting the other colors
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and printing one with the red content, one for the blue, and so on. Use good-quality paper that will take the repeated handling and heating through the copier.
For small runs, consider also the low cost of repeat prints of a single photographic negative obtained through the special offers regularly made by consumer photographic processing facilities. Your best deal might be using coupons from your neighborhood grocery store. A color print can be stuck onto your box, folder, or whatever other packaging you are using to give it a lift, or added to the insert that you slip into a transparent plastic case or envelope.
Going a little further, you can create your titling and other information to make up the complete cover or outer packaging artwork, then shoot a negative of this and have it duplicated as an appropriately sized print. You might be going down two or more generations, so keep the layout simple, with the different color areas clearly defined and the whole shot crisp with plenty of contrast. This approach can work well for fictional as well as nonfiction works, allowing lots of scope for moody and creative photography.
Color copiers continue to get better and cheaper, and can be the means to very cost-effective packaging, particularly when you need to get orders out quickly. Most copiers produce standard letter-size sheets, and you might be able to fit several covers or packaging inserts onto one sheet, greatly reducing the cost.
One low-cost way of achieving this is to generate your final color master through the expensive and very sophisticated copiers operated by services catering to advertising agencies, architects, and other professional design services. Most cities have at least one such
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facility. Use this high-quality color copy as the master for same-size reproduction runs on a lower-grade color copier at a local store, where the price might be under 40 cents for a sheet containing four, six, or eight package covers.
Disks look a lot better if labeled attractively. Each disk in a multi-disk package should be numbered clearly, and bear the title, copyright notice, and other basic publishing details. On the first or only disk, give a clear installation instruction, usually the one required to start the batch file that launches your e-book on screen. These days, it is hardly necessary to give all the details about putting the disk in the drive and getting to the DOS prompt, or using Windows' Program or File Manager Run commands. Simply put on the label something like "Type GO to start" (assuming GO is the name of your batch file).
Many shareware programs generate reasonably attractive disk labels, or you might prefer to design one with your graphic, word processing, or desktop publishing software. Duplicate it by printing or copying it onto adhesive labels to attach to the disks--labels that will not degenerate when copying, nor are likely to come off and jam your readers' drives.
Disk duplication services usually offer label-printing facilities, and for do-it-yourselfers there are lots of programs available that enable you to create labels from your own printer.
By defining your markets and your readership at the beginning of your electronic publishing project, you should have clear ideas of what kind of packaging is most appropriate for a particular work. An academic or scientific audience will accept clean and simple packaging more readily than the market for an e-book on the movies or repairing bicycles.
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All that might be necessary is to use your word processor to create a single-sheet design that gives the title, author, concise summary of reader benefits and contents, and the name and address of the publisher. This one-page layout can then be copied or printed in a single color onto an envelope, box, file folder, or other packaging used to protect and distribute your disks.
An author-publisher who is well-known in his or her field might get maximum impact for back-of-the-room sales at seminars with a simple but elegant package just bearing the name of the e-book or other publication, and the name of the author. That can be more powerful than a thousand words or great graphic images on an expensively printed box.
If you are a researcher or professional regularly distributing material on floppies, consider investing up-front in a stock of high-quality disk mailing envelopes preprinted with your name and other basic details. Then, prepare a simple insert to describe the particular disk you are distributing at any given time.
A good example of an electronic business publication with the visual appeal and physical substance to compete with print on magazine racks is the Mexican e-magazine Indize, a pioneer in the field that grabbed the attention of its target readership wherever it was displayed. Its deceptively simple layout makes extensive use of clip art graphics, spot colors, and charts and graphs that can be created in spreadsheet and desktop publishing programs.
Printed on high-quality coated card, the cover shown in Fig. 8-4 provides professional and practical packaging for the disk inside, plus many tidbits of information that encourage newsstand browsers to buy. Every month, it provides important new economic data that can
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be processed and published onto disk far faster and more efficiently than into a hardcopy magazine. Director general Lorenzo Mariscal and his team supply a small magazine around the floppy using quality heavy paper and light card stock. This package both protects the disk and provides powerful point-of-sale appeal.
The accompanying illustration of a typical Indize edition show how this is done. Note, on the cover, the text and visual flags that announce this is more than just another print publication, but contains a computer disk that is rich in topical economic data. The message comes across clearly, even if you do not read Spanish.
The back cover of Indize is a model of clear text and visual information that sells both the electronic journal inside and the additional services offered by the publishers. The back cover is a potentially powerful medium for communication in any publication. Use it well, whether you are publishing your electronic book or journal, or in a box or envelope.
When you open Indize, you are presented immediately with its most valuable element: the computer disk containing all the latest economic data. The first facing page has the bound-in sealed disk envelope over it, but not completely concealing it. Always package your disk in a sealed container to protect it from dust, potentially damaging handling, and theft. The envelope flap should issue an invitation to open it.
When the envelope is opened, the Indize disk and a printed insert containing detailed instructions for operating the software are revealed. Flip the disk envelope back without opening, as you would the opening title page when browsing a book or magazine, and the contents and essential details about the publisher are revealed on the first facing page of text. Small graphic symbols identify the contents of both the disk and the printed pages that follow.
There are 12 printed pages in the issue shown here, with a trim size approximately 25cm tall by 19.5cm wide. This is slightly smaller than Newsweek or Time, with which it often shares shelf space, and enables Indize to slip easily into mailing envelopes for distribution to subscribers. The hardcopy magazine-style packaging provides
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sufficient protection for the Indize data disk to withstand the rigors of Mexican mail or messenger delivery.
If you are packaging your publication in the U.S. with a similar format, you might save considerably by using standard (81/2´14 inches) card stock. When folded once, this comes down to 81/2´7 inches, a practical size for display, mailing, and to protect the disk inside, even if it is a 5.25 floppy.
Indize makes good use of clear, simple, computer-generated graphics, including maps, charts, and logos. It is worth spending plenty of time creating a good logo for your individual publication, or for your publisher's imprint if you intend to produce a number of electronic books or wish to draw attention to your business name. The Indize logo is used as part of the address on the subscription card.
This Mexican publication was well ahead of anything similar in the U.S. when it was launched in 1992, and is an excellent example of simple, effective packaging to emulate.
The worst way to duplicate disks for distribution is to have a master in one drive and do a disk copy to another. At the very least, put your disk contents onto the hard drive so that the copying goes faster.
If you have lots of disks to duplicate, duplicating services that advertise in the back of computer magazines such as Byte might do the job almost as cheaply as you can, and save a lot of time and hassle. There are, however, various ways of duplicating disks yourself rather than having this done for you, with the main advantage being that you can gear production to demand without having to commit to a particular volume that you might not sell or need to revise.
Only if you have long runs will you want to lay out a considerable sum on dedicated automatic disk duplicating hardware, but any PC
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with appropriately sized floppy drives will do the job if you don't mind having to keep on feeding the disks in. I know of shareware authors and distributors who set up a spare computer within sight of the television and get the kids to do it.
A computer with a fast hard drive and plentiful RAM makes the job go faster, as will using double-speed drives. If you are only making a few copies, you can simply load the publication onto your hard disk, or onto a virtual disk in RAM if you have sufficient memory, and copy it to formatted floppies using standard copy commands. However, it is usually faster, more reliable, and more convenient to use one of the special copying programs available as commercial titles or shareware. One of the most versatile is DiskDupe from Micro System Designs (408-446-2066) with a number of features particularly helpful for electronic publishers. It runs well on older hardware that you might want to use for copying. In fact, it might be better than a dedicated duplicator in many publishing situations because all your master files can be stored on the hard disk for fast and easy access to produce copies on demand.
DiskDupe's creators, Max Dunn and Paul Perry, have packaged a lot of user copying experience into the latest version, including invaluable automatic and sensing features that minimize the risk of bad copies and consequent fulfillment and after-sales support problems. If you have disks already formatted, you can get up to 200 copies an hour with DiskDupe's automatic sensing feature, which ensures that, despite frantic disk swapping, you do not inadvertently remove one that was not copied. There is even the facility through DiskDupe's pull-down menus to do the drive cleaning necessary every 500 disks.
You will almost certainly include some documentation with your disk. This poses the challenging task of trying to get a description, together with instructions and other information, into a small printed format that can be packaged easily with the disk. You might also be
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generating orders by initially stimulating inquiries through editorial, space advertising, direct mail, or other promotional activities and want a similar printed document to mail economically to prospects. Sometimes the same printed material will cover both needs.
If you have a desktop publishing program or a recent version of one of the powerful word processors, you might already have templates that make formatting and printing small booklets far easier than traditional methods. The fastest, easiest, most economical way that I know of to create small booklets is a program called ClickBook (from BookMaker Corporation at 800-766-8531). It costs under $70, works with any Windows application, including the word processors, and virtually any printer. Compile your booklet text in your word processor or text editor, choose one of 18 booklet formats (such as the one shown in Fig. 8-5), and ClickBook does the rest.
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It sorts out the pagination, determining which page should be on the reverse of another when the standard sheets come off the printer and need to be folded, cut, and stapled. It is not appropriate for long documents, but for the typical paperwork that accompanies an electronic publication on any form of disk, or for audio and video tapes as well, ClickBook does a great job.
Use it to generate as many copies as you want, when you want them, straight from your printer, if your initial requirements are low volume. If you are going into a fairly long print run, the same program can create masters which you can then print cheaply at an offset print shop, or with a copier. There are also booklet compiling programs available as shareware which, if your requirements are modest, might do a perfectly acceptable job for you at even less cost.
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