Subject: Re: printed guide
To: Jan Schaumann <>
From: Harry Waddell <>
List: netbsd-docs
Date: 11/09/2003 13:11:56
On Sat, 8 Nov 2003 18:03:43 -0500
Jan Schaumann <> wrote:

> Tim Ivorson <> wrote:
> > >LinuxWorld '04 is coming to NY in January, and I'd like to have
> > >available bound copies of the NetBSD Guide for sale at the booth.
> > 
> > If you did do this, would they be available for shipping direct to
> > users?
> I'm sure if there is enough demand, then the NetBSD Project can
> determine a viable, permanent solution to making these available.  If we
> can't find a way to do this regularly (or on demand, say, if we receive
> N orders, we print them and ship them), then I'd certainly be happy to
> now take one-time orders and print the appropriate amount of extra
> copies before the expo.
> Similarly, any extra copies not sold at the expo will then be available
> on a first-come-first-serve basis, I guess.
> Of course, all of the above with the disclaimer:  I have never done any
> online vending... ;-)
> > Would such a venture be profitable? Where would any profits go?
> All profits of all merchandise we'll sell at the booth at the Expo's
> usually goes directly to The NetBSD Foundation.
> -Jan

As part of my  business, I do occassionally have book printed and sell them
online, and then ship them. [e.g.] 

Here are a few points based on my experience:

1. printing books in small quantities is very expensive in comparison to
larger runs. 

For example, a friend of mine recently created a coil-spiral-bound, ~250p,
color cover, b&w pages for about $21 US. For a run of about 250, it worked
out to about $13 US. This is the Kinko's level of production.

Printing these books on demand would probably be more expensive than Kinkos
given the wear and tear on the printer, toner costs, paper costs and worst
of all, human costs.

A company like whitehall printing,,
can produce bound books of superior quality in quantities of > 500 for
around $5 each, sometime less, sometimes more depending on the details. The
upfront costs are high, but the marginal cost is quite low. The price drops
down to a couple bucks each in quanties over 1000. I've dealt with whitehall
before, and they had great prices and service, although I haven't done any
book printing lately.

2. Shipping books weighing less than four pounds to anyplace in the US is
easy. Just stuff them in a priority mail fixed rate envelope and slap
3.95 in postage on it. If they are over 1 pound, one should get a postal
meter or use another carrier, unless they like standing in line at the post
office. Global priority from the US to just about anywhere is about $10 for
one book, plus the annoyance of having to fill out the customs slips. 
Obviously, the weight of the finished books is the key here.

3. The question of profit and donations is an interesting one. Since there
is a large-ish upfront cost to making these things in any kind of real
quantity, whoever makes them is taking a risk, and should probably be
compensated in some way. Some reasonable handling charge should also go to
the shipper, because it's a giant pain the ass to store merchandise and
process book orders.

4. If the books made and distibuted by someone other than TNF, some
arrangement should be made to sell books in quantity to TNF at "cost", 
so that they can be sold at events.

If TNF wants to spend a couple grand, then having the books printed is easy.
If not, then if it could be established that there was demand in the 100's
of copies range, it might be a good deal for someone else to produce and
sell the books and then donate either a small number of dollars per book, or
a substantial portion of the profits, to TNF. The first formula is good
because it's easy to calculate and prevents "Hollywood" accounting
practices, but is likely to leave someone out of a bunch of time and money.
The latter may not make any money for TNF and a certain amount of trust is
needed between TNF and the seller. 

If the demand is there, I would consider having the books printed
and handling order fulfillment, but that's a big "if". 

Anyway, sorry to be so long winded. I hope this message helped. 

Harry Waddell
Caravan Electronic Publishing