The topic was self-publishing numismatic books. The speakers were Syd Martin, author of The Hibernia Coinage of William Wood (1722-1724) and David Lange, author of Coin Collecting Boards of the 1930s and 1940s: A Complete History, Catalog & Value Guide `
Syd started his talk with the story of how he first became interested in collecting the Wood's Hibernia coinage. He came across a red uncirculated 1723 example in a coin dealer's stock and bought it, thinking it must be a great bargain. He learned from the Breen Encyclopedia that 125 varieties were known. Syd began seeking out the varieties, and accumulated over 250!
He began cataloging his collection, separately enumerating and describing each obverse and reverse variety. He compiled a table listing all the known pairings of obverse and reverse dies.
He used MS-Word for his manuscript, with MS-Excel for tables and Adobe Photoshop for images. After putting it all together he created an Adobe .pdf file for the publisher. One problem was that the .pdf format did not properly retain the image rotation. To resolve this, he had to use a copy of Quark for the final page layout.
When the printer asked him how many signatures were in the book, Syd said he replied, "Oh, I dunno, maybe I'll sign a few of them..." He laughed at his ignorance, but only a few bibliophiles in the room got the joke. Books are printed and bound in groups of "signatures" - each signature consists of even number of pages, typically 16 or 32. Syd's book ended up being 512 pages.
Syd thanked the Colonial Coin Collector's Club (C4) for publishing his book. To encourage and assist authors in the field, C4 pays all publishing and printing costs and provides editors. C4 collects all proceeds until the production costs are covered, then splits the remaining profits with the author. 500 copies of Syd's book were produced in hardbound, with a dust jacket. 250 were sold in the first six months.
In the question and answer period George Kolbe said Syd's talk was "the best exposition I've ever heard about how to make a book."
It was a tough act to follow, but David Lange was up to the task. He first noted the similarities between his project and Syd's - both involved cataloging a subject not well known & understood in the hobby. Both projects had similar motivation, mechanics and economics. David also agreed that he preferred working in MS-Word rather than a page layout tool like Quark.
David bought a large flatbed scanner for $250 to create the images of his Coin Boards, and hired designer Mary Jo Meade to create the book's visual theme and layout. Over 1,000 copies were printed and to date 440 have been sold, putting the project within $500 of the break-even point. To keep costs in line David chose a thinner paper than he would otherwise prefer, did without a hardbound edition and opted for a coil binding instead. Another cost-reducing measure was grouping the color images into the same signatures.
He spoke to Roger Burdette for advice on choosing a printer. After ruling out printers in his own area, David chose the printer who did Roger's Renaissance of American Coinage books, Signature Book Printing. One last-minute problem involved reproducing the color images. Dave went through three rounds of proofs at $24 a page before the print was able to accurately reproduce the color of the coin boards.
By the way, congratulations to David, who received the ANA's second place Wayte and Olga Raymond Memorial Award for his article on Joseph Post, which ran in the August 2007 issue of The Numismatist. In addition, the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) presented him with an Extraordinary Merit award for his book.
Many thanks to both speakers for their enlightening presentations on how to make a book. Hopefully their advice will be of use to future numismatic book authors.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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