As promised, more about the practicalities and cost of DIY printing. Just to refresh you, I’m using a Brother MFC-J6510DW A3 duplex multi-function 4-colour inkjet printer, printing a booklet of 28 double-sided monochrome pages on 90gsm inkjet paper, with a monochrome inkjet-printed cover on 200gsm card.
Staples all-in-one 90gsm paper at £6.50 for 500 sheets.
Ryman A4 200 gsm card at £9.99 for 100 sheets.
Compatible black inkjet cartridge at £4.49 for 4 (plus carriage).
I’ve done the math so you don’t have to.
One entire high-yield compatible black cartridge (about £2.50 inc carriage).
280 sheets of 90gsm (plus spoils) – approximately £4.50.
20 sheets 200gsm card £2.00).
Total £9.00 in materials, about 45p each.
The cost in time is incalculable and would make them impossibly expensive, but I guess that comes with the territory for art books.
Having looked at physically-similar hand-made / fanzine things in commercial galleries & art shops, £5.00 seems about right for the retail price. It’ll never pay you for your time, but at least you can cover your costs. Galleries and art bookshops commonly take 40-50% commission, which always sounds like a lot but is fair as they have all the costs of keeping their premises open and staffed. You’re never going to get rich doing this kind of thing unless you sell A LOT. And I mean A LOT, like tens of thousands, and that’s just not going to happen.
The cost of the materials works out to be very low, but the major cost was in time. It took over five hours to print 20 copies of each of the 14 double-side pages, and this was down to the printer. There are many good things about the J6510DW but it’s not fast. However, the most time-consuming aspect was due to the fact it does not reliably feed single sheets that already been printed on one side. Consequently, I had to sort and re-feed at least some of the sheets for more than half of the printed pages. The J6510 does not seem to support full-bleed in duplex mode so I had to print one side and then feed the same sheets through again. Those pages with a lot of ink curled a little after printing and this seemed to cause problems. I ended up with a lot of spoiled prints and a number of leftovers that had been pulled through with another sheet. Heavier paper might be better but I wouldn’t be able to staple them.
Collating 20 copies was easy, and that, along with stapling took about another hour, and that was the hardest bit. It’s at the stapling stage that you’re likely to ruin them, and that required a deep breath. It will be easier next time.
Anyway, all minor frustrations aside, I’m in business. I always wanted to make books and now I do. What’s more, they are in proper shops. So far, Rare & Racy on Devonshire Street, Sheffield and The Old Sweet Shop on Nether Edge Road, Sheffield. Rare & Racy is a Sheffield institution and has been selling rare and secondhand books, records and prints for as long as I can remember. They don’t do Twitter or Facebook or any of that social media shenanigans, and at the moment don’t really do a website either, but please make time to go down there as it is, truly, both rare and racy, and they have a lot of locally produced books and art as well as rarities.
http://rareandracy.co.uk/ (under construction)
The Old Sweet Shop is a much more recent addition to Sheffield cultural life, but no less significant, and they have a regular programme of exhibitions as well as a wide variety of work for sale. They are VERY social media.
If you would like to buy one, please go down to one of these shops and support our local assets. I really don’t expect to sell many of them, but the important thing is that they exist. I said I was going to do it and I did it.
Decide, commit, act. – Richard Bolam