Book Biz: Typos of the Rich and Famous, $3.2 M for Comic Book, Printer’s Row Down to One Printer

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I’ve been reading a newsletter entitled The Digital Nirvana for a few years now, more than occasionally to see what combination of e-something or another with the printing process has the writers worked into a frantic lather.

And one of the first and most basic options offered by wiring a Mac to a Heidelberg press was variable information printing for direct marketers: ie. junk mail pretending to be something else.

Now, I’ve got about five years in the print industry before I discovered book printing, and I appreciate that there are some pedestrian ways to make a buck with a press. And printing books is the apex of the print industry as far as I’m concerned.

So getting misty-eyed about getting the latest personalized AmEx credit card deal stuffed into a million mailboxes doesn’t happen to give me a warm fuzzy feeling. Still, I can appreciate that some printer got paid for printing something that I may not open, surely won’t read. and that’s destined for either my industrial strength shredder or the shopping bag for paper recycling by my desk.

And in spite of all the great advice proffered in The Digital Nirvana (here, here and here for example), when personalization doesn’t work quite right, the results can be funny…and depressing. And the point isn’t lost on them as they point out the consequences of personalized flubs on the internet and bemoan the goofs of direct mail when it lands in their mailbox.

I remember getting a personalized flyer from HP back in 2004 or so at the Baker Johnson, Inc. shop promoting the variable data (personalization) opportunities of their new press. Except it was addressed to Johnson Baker, Inc., totally muffing two of the three words in the business name. Nice shot but you missed the backboard.

It happened again a couple of years later when I got a letter addressed to Merican Perspective, Ltd.

That just seemed an obvious typo at the time, a misspelling of American Perspective, Ltd., the company that I use for occasional publishing.

Except it wasn’t a typo the way I think of a typo, a correctable error. Over the years the flow of mail to Merican Perspctive Ltd.has grown and grown. Here are 3 examples from the past two weeks.Merican - 2

This “typo” is so ingrained in the shroud of big data that when I was on a government web site this past spring, four business names were displayed with the question, “Do you now or have you ever had a business relationship with any of these companies?” And there it was, Merican Perspective Ltd.

What was the right answer? The digital cognoscenti would have you believe that since mail to Merican Perspective, Ltd. has been delivered to my address for at least ten years, there clearly is a business relationship. But since I know that Merican Perspective, Ltd doesn’t even exist, is there a correct answer? (And why the hell doesn’t the US Government know that there’s no such company?)

I logged off and dialed the 800 number.

Flat Rate Priority Mail Rates Rise and Fall

While Flat Rate Priority Mail pricing will increase for you on September 7, your company will actually get a reduction in its Priority rates.

Big 5 vs. Amazon

Started to compete with Oyster and Scribd, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited all-you-can-read ebook service has showcased the split between the Big 5 publishers and Amazon. The list of available titles is huge but offers no ebooks from the Big 5. Amazon must disdain PR departments because it comes off as either a jerk or a bully these days.

Don’t Pay for Kindle Unlimited

Sure, for around $120 per year you can download dozens of books you’ll never read at Kindle Unlimited. Or you could do the same for free.

Charges Threatened Against RR Donnellyrrdonnelley

International printer RR Donnelly declared its subsidiary in Argentina bankrupt when union contract talks broke off. Now the Argentine government is threatening RRD with criminal terrorist charges.

Typos of the Rich and Famous

I understand the chagrin you’ve experienced when a typo in the book you so carefully proofread and edited was found. Cheer up, you’re in great company.

Bible typo

Printer’s Row No Longer a Row

The area around Printer’s Row has hosted many a Chicago Book Festival (now Printer’s Row Lit Fest). But tough times for printers has whittled their numbers down to one surviving printer on Printer’s Row, Palmer Printing. printers-row-sherman-512x256

Newspaper Publishes After Earthquake

Didn’t you love those old movies where newspaper reporters used every trick possible to “break the story first”. In that same indefatigable spirit, the Napa Valley Register published its evening edition the same day its 50 ton press was relocated a few inches by the Napa Valley earthquake.

Are Your eBooks in Your Will?

A court in Delaware has ruled that the possessions of the deceased which can be legitimately passed on to the heirs includes all forms of digital accounts or devices. So glad that’s settled!

Curation Questions

The Eaton Collection at UC Riverside houses the finest collection of science fiction and fantasy titles anywhere, with works dating back 500 years. Some faculty charge that new administrators are tampering with the very policies that led to the Collection’s leadership role among writers and readers (such as abandoning physical books for e-editions).

Funny Moneyebay-superman

A subjective gauge of an economy’s health can be as simple as observing how consumers spend their money. When the rich treat it like Monopoly money there’s usually trouble on the horizon. A $3.2 million comic book may portend some storms ahead. (As does the $38M recently spent at auction for a Ferrari 250 GT.)

$77M Counterfeit Ring Busted

A 15 year Secret Service investigation paid off when a sophisticated counterfeiting operation with bases in Israel and New Jersey was seized and the principles arrested. (that’s 770,000 $100 bills.)

Design Newsstamp - belgium

The Belgian Postal Department wanted to commemorate International Women’s Day with a stamp. The design features 606 words of text from The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Final Thought

Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and find it full of books — even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome. ~William Ewart Gladstone

About Wayne Johnson 69 Articles
I've worked in book manufacturing for over 30 years, closing my company Baker Johnson, Inc. in 2005. Currently I work freelance with a large group of publishers, advising them on the printing options available to them as the book industry endures major restructuring. My wife Cathy is a retired psychologist and spent most of her career working with the youth at Maxey Boys Training School. She is a small mammal rehabilitator with Friends of Wildlife. Our daughter Whitney is a PharmD working in the Denver area evaluating the pharmaceutical requirements of nursing homes. Our son Eliot lives in Waterloo and is an editor at Mathematical Reviews in Ann Arbor.