184 mails and counting, a couple of hours of googleing and a dozen or so phone calls over the last two weeks is all it took to find a printer. At least for us. There is no standard number of required mails for this process.
When it became clear that we had a budget for printing and marketing the search for a suitable printer began. Suitable is of course a matter of perspective. Quality was definitely the main concern when looking for a company to lay down our ideas. But since our budget, while being generous beyond belief, has to sustain printing and marketing, it soon transpired that European printers were simply to costly. The first few offers we got were above our budget all together. We intend to put an audio version of “Jibonka” into the book. As to the costs for replication and printing of a CD, everybody assured us they could not possibly get a better price than Chinese maufacturers.
So we turned our attention eastward. Many years ago I studies Sinology, two terms of it in China. So the country is not a complete black box to me. I posted our requirements on alibaba.com, a platform for buyers & suppliers I first learned about on the Hong Kong subway television screens. Within a day mails from Chinese printers rolled in. While some of these were obviously unrealistic (1,15 US$ per copy including the CD) others were interesting. When I asked these for clients in Europe only a few were willing to disclose such information.
In an earlier post I wrote that we already had a publisher for Jibonka, which got in finacial trouble. When I contacted this publisher for advice on printers she immedately forwarded me the address of her printer. I am glad there are no bad feelings, at least there are none on our side and this gesture showed that she has not put Adewani on an internal index. Which is very nice to know, considering our next adventure is set in Asia.
But to get back to Jibonka. After speaking to clients of the printers that stayed in the race we had to address concerns on our side about China in general, reliabilty and such things. But since we use a lot of Chinese products everyday, I see no reason not to do business with a private company over there, especially in Shenzhen, were capitalism surely is the leading doctrin.
Finally, a German company warned me of costs for getting the printed books out of Hamburg, once they arrived. But another hour on the net connected me with a company, which specializes in China trade. They advised us to get a FOB offer instead of a CIF – meaning the goods will be dropped in the port of Shenzhen instead shipped to Hamburg. This way one company would handle the books from China to Luxemburg, where our agency has their offices, keeping any agent in Hamburg out of the picture and thus allowing us to calculate the cost more adequately.
And so we now know which printer to do business with. Just how we do it, we will have to find out in the coming days while finishing the audio version (some more recording needs to be done), designing a new, more classy cover, writing new liner notes, writing the credits and going over every single page in a professional way for once. Oh, and then there is Christmas coming up with all the usual mayhem. Ah, well…