book log 2012

On checking to see where I’d got up to with my neglected book log, it appears that the answer is “have not yet even posted the books read in 2012 summary”. Er. Sorry about that, especially those of you who are still awaiting an LTER review I owe on something I read last year. Anyway, I read 103 books last year, at least that I remembered to note down (I’m fairly sure I missed some). The list is below the cut.
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Review: business cards

I do very little by way of printed promo material, and most of it I print at home as and when required. But I could do with having some business cards to hand out my contact details at cons, and the business cards might as well double as promo material. However, I need so few that I can’t justify doing a batch for each book.

Enter and their Printfinity system. You can put a different image on the reverse of every card in the batch, if you so desire. Which means that I can order a box of 50, and get a mix of all of my book covers. And they do a completely free sample box of 10, not even a charge for postage. The price is in the form of their own logo on the image side of the card, but it’s small and discreet. So I thought I might as well have a play with the system and see what the quality is like.

The process of designing the cards is a little bit fiddly, but not to the point of being impossible to use, and a lot of the fiddliness is a direct result of the flexibility it offers. I think that once I’m used to it, it will be fairly easy to use. The system includes the useful feature of a QR code generator, so that you can create QR codes and use them as a logo on the details side or a full image on the image side. The one thing that could be an issue for novices is that they are very, very serious about bleeds and safe zones, to the point of the software not always allowing you to use an image without setting up the zones. (And if you don’t know what bleeds and safe zones are, there’s a helpful guide, with templates you can download.)

Standard delivery is listed as several days, but my pack reached me well within the deadline. The cards were packed in a small card holder inside a waterproof padded envelope, giving good protection.

The quality? *Really* nice. It’s a very heavy paper stock that resists bending and crumpling, with a matt laminate finish that gives it a nice feel. The images are clear, and the colour reproduction is good. I’m short-sighted, so if I take my glasses off I can easily see the dots in the printing pattern, but at normal reading distance it looks smooth. They’re printed in full colour on both sides, and while the personal details side has to be the same on every card, there’s scope to do things in the layout, including using a logo. I used one of my book covers in the logo area, and that’s come out well even in miniature size.

I like these a lot. They’re not cheap (and the prices are quoted VAT-free so people in the UK will be paying an additional 20% on top), but you don’t have to keep adding surcharges for this, that and the other before you get to the finished product. For the sort of thing I want them for, they’re perfect, and I will be ordering some for the next convention I go to.

The other thing moo do, and in fact their signature item, is minicards. These are about half the size of standard business cards, as if you were to cut a card down the middle in the long direction — just the right proportions to make small bookmarks with. :-) I’d signed up for the newsletter, and the offer a couple of weeks later was a sample box of 100 minicards for P&P only. That still means paying four quid, for a box of cards with the moo logo added to your design, but it was a good opportunity to try out some ideas cheaply.

And this was where I got to find out how good their complaints procedure is…

The minicards were of the same high physical quality, and they were delivered in moo’s standard unit packaging, which is a sturdy and attractive card box designed to be used as a dispenser you can take out in public. But there was a printing error affecting 11 of the 100 cards in the box — the image side and details side on one sheet hadn’t been aligned properly, so that although the image side was cut correctly, the details side had been cut through the safe zone. I used the contact form on the website to report the problem. I got an email a few hours later (on a Saturday), asking me to provide a picture so they could see what the problem was. This was a very polite way of asking me to prove that the problem was real, and a very helpful way, because it meant that as long as I had a scanner or camera I could get the complaint turned around the same day. I sent in a scan, and got an email a few minutes later apologising for the problem and confirming that they would reprint the order. The replacement arrived on Tuesday, two working days later. Not bad at all.

You can have multiple projects on the go, and it will save unfinished projects so that you can work on them at a later date. You can pull up previous orders easily, and re-order as is, or edit the batch first.

Overall — I’m a very satisfied customer. The quality was excellent, and while there was a problem with one order, it was fixed quickly and politely. The only niggle I’ve got is that there doesn’t seem to be a way of storing your images on their system other than as part of a design project. You have to re-upload each time you start a new project. But since they don’t charge a fee for uploading images (unlike many card printers), and you can save and edit projects, this is not much of an issue. They also do postcards, greeting cards and stickers, although I haven’t seen physical samples of those yet. On my experience so far, I’d be happy to recommend them to other authors looking for small print run options on promo materials. The one problem they have from a promo material perspective is that the laminate makes it difficult to write on them, so you’ll need to take along something like a marker pen or photo pen to sign them or add details by hand.

And since they have a “refer a friend” bribery and corruption scheme… If you go through the link below, you’ll get 10% off your first order (and I will get a discount off my next order:-> ).

I have a new trib copy…

… but alas, my trib copy of The Mammoth Book of Quick and Dirty Erotica has been mangled by a minion of Royal Mail, who shoved it into my letter box without regard as to whether it could actually fit through without tearing the envelope and contents. I may have to write a letter of complaint tomorrow. And yes, I will be only too pleased to display the damaged item if need be. Anyway, my contribution, “A Sparrow Flies Through”, amounts to 4 pages out of 554. But there are 119 other stories for your entertainment contained within this volume, so if you wish to make a lot of authors and their editor and publisher very happy, you can pre-order it now at Amazon UK, Amazon US, and other fine book emporia. Official release date is 18 April, at least in the UK (US Amazon is showing a June date).