Coming Soon…

It’s time for a progress report on what I’m now calling Give Us A Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-2013). And other stuff, like a return to “normal” blogging, whatever that might mean.

Updated Friday, September 7 to reflect reality–things went faster than expected.

The Book

It’s going very well. In fact, the first draft is finished. I need to revamp the Introduction (splitting part of it into a Preface), add a full-scale example to the Introduction, revise the Appendix, and touch up Chapter 2.

And decide whether to prepare a travel-photo-based cover similar to those on most of my other self-published book, or use the clean bright geometric Lulu-provided cover design I used on Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader. Opinions welcome. At the moment, given the functional nature of this book, I’m inclined toward the geometric design.

I’ll also edit the text in Chapters 3-20…but there’s only one paragraph of text in each chapter, so that’s not going to take long.

Which brings me to…

Some Book-Related Decisions

As I was working on the first three chapters (which set the tone for the rest of the book), I thought about how this book can and should be used and what that meant for the rest of it. I also thought about sheer length, which influences use and certainly influences cost (for those buying the print book).

Here’s what I concluded:

Content

  • The heart of the book is tables, showing how (all but a few hundred of) America’s public libraries stack up on ten different metrics, designed so that an individual library can readily compare themselves to other “similar” libraries as part of the process of telling the library’s story for the purposes of improving and retaining budget. Public libraries not only provide excellent value, they continue to provide excellent value as they’re better funded: That’s clear from most tables and it’s an important point.
  • My own comments on what I found interesting about specific tables and the relationships among tables are probably superfluous for most users and have the possibility of biasing conclusions. They also add pages to the book–probably a lot of pages.
  • So I’m not providing any commentary on the specific tables. I show how they work, I’ll provide one example of how a library can use the tables, and that’s it…for the book itself. The rest is tables. Lots of them. (No graphs. No infographics. Except for the first two chapters, no table has more than 11 rows of data.)
  • I will offer comments on individual tables and what I find looking across tables, probably, but in Cites & Insights (November 2012 and later).

Price and Audience

  • The primary audience for this book is public librarians, especially those in smaller public libraries that lack full-time marketers or statisticians.
  • For that reason, the ebook version (PDF) will be priced as low as I can price it and still get a plausible return*: probably $11.95, possibly less. It turns out to be $11.99. (Without DRM, and if Douglas County, Califa or anybody else wants to mount it on their own ebook system, they have my blessing. Not that it’s patron-oriented, but…)
  • The paperback version will be priced to yield the same return per copy, which means it will probably be about $9.50-$11 more expensive than the ebook version (depending on the final length of the book). It turns out to be $9.94 more expensive for a book with 270 printed pages: $21.95.
  • There may also be a hardcover version for library schools and anybody else so inclined, priced marginally ($10 more than the paperback: that’s what Lulu wants for the binding). Final price: $31.50. Apparently the binding’s not quite $10.
  • Secondary audiences are library schools and, I think, some librarians who might find this close-up set of snapshots of public libraries in FY10–although it never mentions any library by name–interesting.
  • Oh, and possibly consultants who may find it to be a useful tool.

Beyond the Book

  • The book uses a single set of metric buckets (divisions for rows in tables–e.g., expenditures per capita, circulation per capita) for all public libraries, based on the actual national patterns in FY10. It offers a larger set of metrics for 18 groups of libraries (by size of library), a smaller set for each state. Some states or groups of states (or other groups of libraries) might find it worthwhile to have a customized presentation, either using the full set of metrics with the existing buckets or customizing the buckets for their state(s). I’ll offer such customized versions, if anybody wants them, at retired non-consultant rates (probably in the mid to high $hundreds for most projects for most states). If nobody’s interested, that’s OK too.
  • As noted above, I anticipate offering informal comments on the data in a future Cites & Insights, or maybe two issues, comments that should stand on their own but are based on the book itself (which, of course, anybody will be able to acquire for that rock-bottom price).
  • If the book’s well-received, I’ll plan to do another version next year based on FY2011 IMLS data.
  • If the book’s very well-received (let’s say 1,000 total sales), I’ll reduce the price of the PDF version to the lowest price that allows me to track sales (I believe that’s either $0.99 or $1.67, but I’m not sure) to a level that still supports my research and provision of individual-library metrics.
  • Because the preliminary version may be useful as additional background for some libraries, I’ll also make that available as a free download; the URL will be in the book.

Other Stuff

The October Cites & Insights will come out right about the same time as shortly after the book–and, of course, the lead essay in the issue will introduce the book and its versions. Best guess is either next week or the week following. The October issue should be out some time next week, no earlier than September 10 and no later than September 14. (The rest of the October issue is already written & edited: Part 2 of Thinking About Blogging and a quick update to The Liblog Landscape 2007-2010.)

I anticipate a return to “normal” blogging activity after that…well, and after I polish my speech for Computers in Libraries and, sigh, create PowerPoint slides for that speech. (The speech is related to The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing and will be the second part of Session A103, 1:15-2 p.m. on Monday, October 22.)


*Plausible return: $10 per copy sold, because based on previous experience I can’t honestly project sales in the triple or quadruple digits. There’s little point in being coy about prices, since Lulu’s tools allow anybody to figure out what my net yield is. Actual yield: $9.90 to $10.28 per copy, depending on format.

Oh, and by the way: If you want to buy one of my books–including the hardcover version of The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing–Lulu has another of its frequent sales, this one through Friday, September 7. Go to lulu.com; write down the country-specific coupon code (I think it’s CITHARA20 for the US); save 20% on one order. Searching for “Walt Crawford” from the Lulu home page should find all of my books.

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