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I’m hoping to make enough stock so that when I go to a store to sell them, and if they want to sell them, I have enough to give them. This is, I believe, the first step in making bookbinding and selling my business. Right?

I’ve got a couple of notebooks, touristy notebooks, and a couple of schedule books that are a bit late to be sold. I also have some for next year, which I will introduce to the stores in September or October. Is that too late?

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AbacusCover.pngWhile writing one novel I got frustrated so I thought I’d write a quick story about strange people and ended up writing another novel. The second novel is called Abacus Longing. It’s about an app developer who thinks she’s being stalked. She finds a thin book and the book has too many incidents and conversations from her life to be a coincidence. The book she finds has two high school characters: a math genius and a manga-artist/graphic novelist. The manga-artist is writing a book about an alien visitor to earth and the homeless scientist she meets. 

Three stories interwoven in one 50,000 word / 200-page book:

  • The app developer story,
  • the high school math genius/manga-ka story, and
  • the alien & scientist story.

Naturally, they all come together at the end when the developer discovers who the stalker is and the nerds discover their true purpose in life. What happens to the Alien and her Scientist buddy? I believe that’s another novel in itself. 

Abacus Longing is currently on my InDesign program being readied for printing out and possible e-book publication via iBooks and, maybe, Amazon. I’d love to get a manga-artist to draw the pictures for the manga part of the book (the alien & scientist bit) before making the ebook. 

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Accord_Merch_1_2Open.jpgBecause of a class I
took on the history of Japanese bookbinding, I have become more interested in accordion books which in Japanese are called orihon -folding books; much like origami is folding paper (gami being from kami meaning paper.) So I am making a larger book with writing on both sides. The writing hasn't been decided yet, but it may well be a related series of drawings because a short story on an accordion is hard - well, not hard, but clumsy - to read.

It is similar but different to the pictured accordion book in that the new one - still not finished yet - will, hopefully, be larger and better aligned with better paper.

I cased in four books last week and sold three of them this week. That is an amazing feat for me. If I keep it up, I may make money doing this. Ha! Keep it up. What a fluke this week was. But it made everyone happy.

Next: I have only nine or ten books to case in now. And I finished InDesigning two more. If I were making money, I’d hire me an assistant. That’ll be the day, to quote Buddy.

Next time: A story about a Story called Abacus Longing

 

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Another Getting-Out of the Zone called Comfort. As promised: a Semi-Tunnel book instruction Without Pictures! Good luck, I hope I explained it well enough. 

I'm gathing my wits about me to attempt another challenge for myself ~ approaching a small coffee shop to allow me to teach simple bookbinding in simple English (or more complex depending on the students' English level) for a couple of hours. My current plan is to teach a variety of folding structures. They don't require glue or thread. And then a couple of pamphlet books that require only thread. The idea is not to improve their bookbinding skills but to improve their English skills through bookbinding.

But first! I must approach the owner to see if he will allow me to use his shop for a couple of hours during a slow time. The shop only fits five or six people comfortably. If I teach there, he will only be able to sell coffee to my four or five students. If I get that many. 

Let me know if you succeed in making a semi-tunnel book. Or if my explanation was too off to understand.

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Accord_Merch_Cover.jpgI just finished a three week listening course titled Japanese Culture Through Rare Books put out by FutureLearn and it was both informative and inspirational. One style of book in Japan is called the Orihon (折本) which is a folded book. In English it's called an Accordion book. I've never made an accordion book to my knowledge so this course inspired me to make one. Then, not being satisfied with the first one, I made a second one. My second orihon/accordion book is better than the first one.

The first one used blank scrap paper. Just to see if I could do it. The second one uses two of my short stories: The Merchant of Venus and Monkey, Dick, and I. To make an orihon/accordion book we first need to glue individual papers together, then fold it however we want, and add covers. Nice process and fun. The final book is also fun to read. I mean, you can read it while flipping rapidly through the pages.

 The book is about 115 mm wide and 160 mm tall. Slightly larger than A6 (about very roughly 4.5 inches by 6 inches for our north American Accord_Merch_Open.jpgcaptives.) It is about 220 cm long when completely folded out. (Again, about 7 feet for those who aren't conversant in the metric system.) And a whole lot of pages (see what I did there? If you’re a Zeppelin fan). It has a thin pinkish strap around it to keep it closed. The front part is the Merchant story and the back part is the Monkey story.

The Merchant of Venus, by the way, is a love / horror story set in another universe where females are created from the fingers of males.  (Not unlike making a female from a rib? Maybe?). The main character is a man who makes females from the fingers of his clients. He has made two wives for himself. Each female, however, as an expiration date: 20 years after creation. To make things livelier, they are born 20 years old. Having made two wives for himself, he has eight fingers. He retires but is blackmailed into making a woman for a government syncophant. But the woman created isn’t interested in the syncophant; she’s interested in the main character. So he has to make another woman from his own fingers, leaving him with seven.

Accord_Merch_1_2Open.jpgMonkey, Dick, and I is a con artist story about Monkey, a young girl (maybe 11 years old), who has fallen under the tutelage of the homeless and poverty-stricken ex-Navy narrator, the I in the title. Monkey and the narrator convince an old Navy friend (Dick) that Dick is the father and needs to take care of Monkey from now on because she needs a real family, an education, and consistency in her life that homelessness cannot provide. It is unclear in the story who is Monkey’s real dad: the narrator or Dick.

Making these books was a challenge but it is the Year of Getting Out of Our Comfort Zone so it is to be expected. While taking the Rare Book Japanese Culture course, I also learned about the tatamino-mono book (たたみもの) - a fold out book. I made one of those, too.

 

Accord_Merch_Back.jpg

 

 

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It is alwys good to practice all of our skills regardless of what they might be. Language comes to mind but so do physical skills such as skiing, swimming, and darts. In my case, in this case, I wanted to practice my bookbinding O_E_Front.jpgskills and thus, set about doing so. With scrap paper, leftover paper from previous mistakes (printer, typos, or my own mistakes), I made a book.

It's definitely big enough even with the scrap paper. And, it comes complete with a strap to keep it closed. It even has left over bits of book cloth on the cover, randomly arranged by myself. This is another skill I have to acquire.

In making books I've discovered that many people look at the cover. That's it. Just the cover. Often they will open it and glance at the contents. If the textblock is covered in text, they may read a few lines. If it is a lined or blank notebook, they flip though it and continue on life's journey. But they All look at the cover. I need to learn how to make attractive covers that intrique and invite viewers. Covers that people will want to put on their shelves even if they O_E_Open.jpgnever read the thing.

 

 Next devise: I have four books I need to case in in the next week. I need Covers!O_E_Back.jpg

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No pictures today as we - you and I - are stepping outside of the box marked Comfort Zone and trying something different. I speak, you listen, and you attempt to make the flexagon book that I describe. Easy? Not so much. Fun and Challenging? That’s the whole point, eh? Let me know how it goes.

Also, in the future, we might have this same lesson on making a flexagon book in another language. In my case, Japanese. Now, that should be fun.

Next time: The Semi-Tunnel Book, also without pictures. Throw that comfort zone to the wind, my friends.

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Last month I took myself off to a Zine Fest in Osaka and learned a bit more about producing a zine. I don't mind making the content, or formatting  it for a zine, I really don't like printing it out. There are not a lot of options: Xerox, risograph, off-set printing, silkscreen, woodblock printing or doing everything by hand (esp. drawings).

ZineFest_1.jpegAt the zine fest I  learned most people either printed a few copies off their home printer or Xerox it at work or use risograph. Problem with risograph is the minimum is 200 copies which might cost anywhere from ¥25,000 ($250) to ¥40,000 ($400) depending on number of pages and colors.

Since the ZineFest was sponsored by a risograph printing company, I talked a bit with its representative / saleswoman / technician (small company). I thought the template for the printed matter could be used multiple times - nope. Surprisingly, the cost in Osaka is cheaper than the one here in town, a much cheaper city to rent space in. They both had a 200 copy minimum though. Can I sell 195 copies of anything I put together? Hmmm. Good question.

ZineFest_2.jpegThe festival was fun; lots of creators. Easy to see  in one day. Many creators speak more than one language. All were willing to explain their work, of course. Plus, it was exciting—invigorating—inspiring to be around people who do what I do; to learn from them; to see how they create or show their work.

Now I'm more likely to finish making ebooks and advertising my bunch of zines collectively title:

 The Diary of a Dead Cat Quarterly

(Too much curiosity for only nine lives.)

Maybe we'll see more of them here in the future?

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This morning I broke one eye frame off of my glasses so they’re perched nicely on my nose but I best not shake shake shake with the music or they’ll fly happily off into a hardwood floor.
I printed and sewed seven volumes of the nine volume Tristram Shandy. Yes, Shandy again. Next I have to case them in and One Set ---- One! ---- will be finished. Which I will give away as a present to someone who is interested in a) old books b) handmade stuff.

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In other news, I finished a very small, six-folio, 12-page, A-6 little book with pictures and a few words. For no reason, it is called Epic Steam. All four Beatles are present, but you’d never recognize them as I obliterated their famous faces with drawings, words, collages etc. But they show up in a picture of women who graduated from high school in 1930.

It occurred to me that if they graduated in 1930, 34 years before the Beatles became big, then they would probably be 52 or so when the Fab Four landed. Meaning, they were the generation that pooh-poohed the music. Or close to it. But they also were around when Lillian Gish was the Fab One. Who? Exactly. But looking at their smiling happy graduation photo made me wonder about the passage of time and changes in life. If any are alive, they’re 105 years old.



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Last week I went to the Tokyo Book Art Fair and met many people and saw many different kinds of books. I asked about printing. Most chose: risograph, letterpress, a home computer printer ala Epson, and hand lettering. One chose silkscreen for the few illustrations on her notebook.
The other thing I liked was the wide variety of books: recycled, art, zines, and ‘normal’ books by ‘normal’ publishers who all basically had the same style: perfect binding on letter press imprints.

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Plus, I scored a bunch of paper for very little cash. 
Also last week, I finished printing on my home Epson, seven of nine books of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, something I’ve been working on for quite a while.

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