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V18 2015 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 41, October 11, 2015, Article 7

THOUGHTS ON PRESS RUNS OF NUMISMATIC BOOKS

Seasoned numismatic book publisher Dave Lange submitted these thoughts in response to Gary Beals' call for recommendations on how many copies to print of his upcoming book. -Editor

Since my last two books were self-published under my own imprint, PennyBoard Press, I have some experience in this area. Obviously, the potential sales of a book varies with the popularity of the topic. Putting out a book titled How to Get Rich in the Coin Hobby will sell far more readily than one on a much more esoteric subject within the field. As both of my self-published books concern the collecting of coin boards or albums, the very definition of esoteric, I can relate my own experiences.

Lange, Coin Collecting Boards I printed just over 1000 copies of my 2007 book on antique coin boards, and this was done specifically with the intent of reducing the unit cost to the point where I could offer them wholesale to dealers at half of retail. I was successful in placing about 80-100 books this way, but there were no repeat orders, so the wholesale scheme proved unnecessary. I was able to sell several hundred at retail, but nearly half of these sales were achieved only after I slashed the retail price to the former wholesale figure. Sales then stalled, so I donated 300 copies to the ANA for use as table favors at its 2013 annual banquet, and I still have 100 or so left.

Coin Collecting Albums My 2013 book on National Coin Albums and related products was never offered at wholesale, as the unit cost was too high for me to provide any discount to dealers. I printed 300 of this title, which was the minimum figure for an established printer that was known to do work of the quality I demanded. I've moved just over 100 of these books to date, and about half the sales have come since the original price was reduced to a point where I would still cover the unit cost, even after Amazon or eBay takes its pound of flesh.

One thing I've noticed is that book sales for both my own titles and the more popular titles of commercial publishers in the numismatic field haven't recovered from the 2008-09 recession. There seems to be a malaise over the hobby that inhibits the publishing of new books in recent years, at least within the commercial sector. While my publications are not representative of the overall numismatic field, I would caution prospective authors to think "less is more" when planning their books.

One thing weighing in favor of smaller press runs is that modern printing technology can produce quality works at a reasonable cost that is not necessarily related to the number of copies ordered. The old rule of economy of scale doesn't apply, at least not for press runs of a few hundred or more. Another benefit of modern technology is that additional books usually can be ordered from the printer at the same unit cost, should they be required. This is the so-called "print on demand" service. I'll be looking into this for my current book project on the Library of Coins Albums and other publications of the Coin and Currency Institute (Robert Friedberg). I insist on accurate color reproduction, so I'll be careful in choosing such a printer.

To contact Dave about purchasing one of his books, email him at DavidWLange@outlook.com. I should note that there's a related word to the wise in Dave's Fall 2015 Coin Board News newsletter (republished below). -Editor

In many instances, the early folders are rarer than coin boards. Being superficially similar to current items, the 1939-50 folders are accorded no respect by coin collectors and dealers, so their survival rate is extremely low. The distinctive size of our beloved coin boards alerts persons to their potential value, and they are thus more likely to be saved than the humble folders, which often get trashed.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUERY: PRESS RUN FOR A NEW BOOK ON NUMISMATICS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v18n40a19.html)


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Wayne Homren, Editor

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The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

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