Second ballot

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Second ballot

nov 18, 2022, 10:32 am

I thought we might start a separate thread to discuss the second ballot?

What are everybody’s thoughts? :)
And also, do we want to share our votes, or rather not as it might lead to tactical voting?

nov 18, 2022, 10:37 am

I would favor keeping our voting to ourselves and discuss only those aspects of a proposal which require member input. One of them virtually requires the members to make decisions on the design.

nov 18, 2022, 10:46 am

Yes, I think we should keep our votes to ourselves for now. And I'm wondering how/when we should vote on the details of On the Shortness of Life. It's hard for me to rank it now given that it's so open-ended.

nov 18, 2022, 11:00 am

>3 AMindForeverVoyaging: Yes, that is a problem.

nov 18, 2022, 11:08 am

>3 AMindForeverVoyaging: >4 Glacierman: The On The Shortness of Life proposal seems to effectively propose a subsequent round of voting, where each of the details is hashed out individually on a big spreadsheet. This subsequent round will only happen if the proposal is elected.

nov 18, 2022, 11:09 am

>5 grifgon: Yes, that would pretty much have to be the way to handle it.

nov 18, 2022, 11:29 am

>5 grifgon: I like the concept – a chance for a more active participation from the members, and thus more consensus to be had! But I wish it’d be part of one of the other proposals; the two Senecas are the ones I’m least interested in…

nov 18, 2022, 11:52 am

I think both Seneca proposers missed a real opportunity by not bandying their concept around here in advance. I know I benefited a lot from community input before drafting the final proposal.

Agreement that one's voting choices should remain private for now. I'm actually looking forward to the torturous slow reveal later!

nov 18, 2022, 12:35 pm

>8 Shadekeep: "I think both Seneca proposers missed a real opportunity by not bandying their concept around here in advance."

I agree. One of them, IMHO, punted the ball, leaving the rest of the membership to come up with a design proposal for it. Although, to be honest, I will give that person the benefit of the doubt and suggest he was attempting to have a book truly designed by consensus, which is interesting in itself. However, I would not want to do that for multiple titles!

nov 18, 2022, 12:51 pm

I admit confusion about why, if they wanted the book designed by consensus, the Seneca proposer didn’t post here during the discussion stage.

nov 18, 2022, 1:21 pm

Yeah, I was concerned that my "Canticle" proposal would be too costly to realize -- the advisory board seems to be strongly of that opinion as well, alas.

nov 18, 2022, 1:51 pm

>10 ambyrglow: I think just a part of the membership posts here. If the Seneca proposal wins, then there’s a better chance that every member would be part of the design mechanism (I’d guess)

nov 18, 2022, 1:58 pm

I like the On The Shortness Of Life proposal because it's so different from the others. It adds to the diversity of what's on offer. I think the proposer thought outside of the box and gave the membership the opportunity to not only select a text but select a previously unconceived approach to crafting the book. Bravo, I say! As the Consensus Press rules state:

Proposals may be however vague or specific the proposer chooses; the “boundary” of what constitutes a proposal is entirely up to each individual member.

nov 18, 2022, 2:07 pm

>13 grifgon: It is indeed interesting in that respect and well within the guidelines. Kudos to the proposer for going his own way and adhering to the general concept of "consensus." It's a little weird at first, but after one contemplates the proposal seriously, it begins to make sense. It is certainly a unique approach!

Unfortunately, I personally have no interest in Stoicism.

nov 18, 2022, 2:10 pm

>11 kermaier: It's a great proposal, and if I were running things at Thornwillow or Suntup or Folio Society, I'd steal it from you! ;-)

The limiting factor here (for both Canticles especially, but to a lesser extent for all of the proposals) is that setup costs must be borne equally across an edition, and much of fine presswork is setup costs. For example: The cost of a typical quarto 4-up polymer plate is, say, $150, and a typical lock-up fee is $100. A 300 page book has 75 of those, or ~$20,000 in polymer and lock-ups alone, and we haven't bought materials or even started printing yet! At an edition size of 800, it's $25 each, but at 80, $250 each, so keeping longer books below the stratosphere with a membership of 126 is inherently difficult.

nov 19, 2022, 11:19 am

When voting, I put together a simple spreadsheet to keep track of the candidates. Perhaps the following overview would be useful to others:

A) The Life of Merlin ($500 – $1000)
B) The Voyage of Máel Dúin's Boat ($400 – $800)
C) Flowers For Algernon ($300 – $600)
D) The Narrow Road to the Deep North ($500 – SKY)
E) A Canticle for Leibowitz ($1000 – SKY)
F) Letters from a Stoic ($300 – $600)
G) A Canticle for Leibowitz ($2000 – SKY)
H) On the Shortness of Life ($500 – $1000)
I) The Tale of Sinuhe ($300 – $600)

nov 19, 2022, 11:55 am

>16 abysswalker: Very useful, thank you

Redigerat: nov 19, 2022, 12:22 pm

The ballot does not work for me. I am using a MacBook. It displays only 8 columns, and thus I cannot complete the form. Is anyone else having this problem?

EDIT: resolved

nov 19, 2022, 1:51 pm

>16 abysswalker:

Excellent idea - much appreciated.

nov 19, 2022, 6:03 pm

>16 abysswalker: This has indeed proved useful, thank you.

nov 20, 2022, 12:28 pm

So far, it seems to me that a great part of the cost will be the limited number, maybe 80 that will be printed. I don´t know how you feel but for me there is no intrinsic value in smaller limitations, if it´s 80 or 1500 as for the LEC, does not matter. When we begun this project, I hoped for a book with the quality and price of "The Case of Death and Honey" by Areté Editions (the Numbered Edition). Now, it seems that we are choosing shorter and shorter texts and cutting down everything to bare minimums to lessen the costs. For this book that I mentioned previously we would need to pay a few times more for the sole value of lower limitation. The only solution that I see is to print a few hundred copies with different bindings and price classes and sell them to collectors outside our group too. Our benefit as members, would be to choose the titles and the specifications and have a copy reserved to us.

nov 20, 2022, 1:00 pm

>21 koszakedv: The low(ish) limitation certainly does contribute to costs, but I wouldn't describe it as "a great part of the cost," except for the two longest texts, the Canticles. I've taken a look at The Case of Death and Honey and I don't think its cost is especially out of line with what we'd see for Consensus Press. None of the proposals are as bare bones as "The Fine Edition," which is printed on Superfine and simply case bound in cloth with some stamping. Several of the proposals are fairly comparable to the "The Numbered Edition" – Zerkall, case bound in leather, stamping, slipcase – and fall into a similar price range.

Redigerat: nov 20, 2022, 4:08 pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

nov 20, 2022, 5:30 pm

>21 koszakedv: Allowing non-members to order copies of a Consensus Press edition would require changing the rules. If a significant number of members requested a vote on a rules change, we could certainly hold one.

nov 20, 2022, 6:35 pm

>24 consensuspress: Interesting! Id be for it… although Im biased given my proposal could benefit from a larger print run and likely has decent demand outside of members. It would require a few more “votes” or process on how to set the print size.

Which, actually, even given existing rules sparks a few questions for me:

1. Who bankrolls this, takes on the risk?

2. Under the current rules, how many are printed? Or is that determined by a pre-order from members first?

3. If more are printed than are sold, wouldn’t CP open them up for purchase by non-members to offset losses?


nov 20, 2022, 6:49 pm

>25 caszius: Great questions.

1. Nobody takes on risk. If the financing doesn't work up-front, we simply won't proceed. Having determined the actual cost of producing the edition, we will set the price and announce it. Members will fill out an order form but no money will actually change hands. When there are enough orders to produce the edition, invoices will go out.

2. The edition size will be determined by the number of member orders.

3. We will only produce as many as the membership orders. Per the current rules, CP can't sell copies to non-members. Members can sell copies to non-members if they want.

nov 20, 2022, 8:56 pm

I am in favor of continuing to sell copies only to members, but it does seem to me that if we produce a work by a living author (not relevant for the current round of proposals, but could be in the future) it would be a kindness to give them a copy gratis.

nov 21, 2022, 12:37 am

>27 ambyrglow: I suspect that would be in the contract with the author.

nov 21, 2022, 4:39 am

I am not in favour of offering copies for sale to non-members

nov 21, 2022, 7:08 am

I am happy with the current rules. Learning what I have about pricing etc. in this year’s book, I think my voting (and proposal) in round one of next year’s book will be quite different.

nov 21, 2022, 8:45 am

I could be persuaded to open sales to non-members, assuming that would be necessary in order to properly fund the title. In that case however I would also prefer two editions, one of which is solely for members. That retains the specialness of the consensual process. The member edition should have a superior binding and/or paper, and if feasible a solander if the regular has a slipcase.

nov 21, 2022, 8:54 am

>31 Shadekeep: I agree with you on this :)

nov 21, 2022, 3:49 pm

While I'm open to the idea in principle, I think selling to non-members would be an unmitigated disaster and would cause more harm than good. How would this work exactly?

Assuming that we need X more non-members to buy the book at $Y in order to be able to breakeven, we would need to have that money ready before starting the production. Why? Because CP isn't owned by anyone, no one is making a profit here, and thus no one will be willing to take on the risk of starting the production without having the funds secured. Thus, in order to start the production, we need X non-members to pre-order the book, which would basically mean that the book may never get started, even if all the members are ok with the price. At best, we're probably talking a few extra months of waiting for the book to 'sell' before we can start production. Not to mention that this may also shift the incentives to produce books that we think will be easier to sell to non-members, which kind of defeats the purpose of CP IMO. Unless there's an easy way around these problems that I missed, I would vote against such a proposal.

nov 21, 2022, 3:58 pm

>33 filox: I don't see how this is very different from any other press opening up a title to subscription, as long as they stipulate the limitation up front. They may not have a corporate structure per se, but somebody at CP is buying paper and paying for lock-ups and all the rest that a fine press does. Increasing the limitation just raises their chance of breaking even, and perhaps even have a profit that can be plowed into the next title. I also don't see how it would influence the choice of title, since that is decided wholly by the community. The only influence the CP board has had on selection so far is in offering estimates of cost and feasibility. No doubt that can influence voting, but it isn't the sole determinator. And most of the CP board are already working at other presses too, so I don't see where they would need to turn CP into something else, either.

nov 21, 2022, 3:59 pm

>33 filox: Exactly, and I would vote against such a proposal as well.

The only other alternative is that the membership takes on the risk collectively and equally (meaning up front payments), and then any revenue from sales to non-members is distributed collectively and equally to the members. The cap on revenue is the breakeven point; beyond that, CP strays into a for-profit venture.

Redigerat: nov 21, 2022, 4:36 pm

As I understand it, contracts aren't drawn up, paper isn't purchased, etc., until members have ordered and paid for their copies. That provides the financing needed to actually produce the book in the proper quantity. I don't see non-members being too keen on paying in advance. This isn't a crowd-funding venture, but a private "club," as it were. To my mind, members only.

nov 21, 2022, 4:53 pm

I have nothing against selling copies to non-members, per se, but I don't really think it would work. Who would do the selling? Management and the board aren't profiting, individual members aren't profiting, so what's the incentive to sell more copies? If anything, selling copies to non-members probably devalues the books on the secondary market.

nov 21, 2022, 5:31 pm

>26 consensuspress: "We will only produce as many as the membership orders. Per the current rules, CP can't sell copies to non-members. Members can sell copies to non-members if they want."

What happens if a copy is delivered with a production defect or damaged in transit? Shouldn't there be a few extra copies to account for such possibilities?

nov 21, 2022, 6:11 pm

>34 Shadekeep: I don't see how this is very different from any other press opening up a title to subscription
>34 Shadekeep: but somebody at CP is buying paper and paying for lock-ups and all the rest that a fine press does

It's different in that the production doesn't start until the funding is secured. In a typical private press, the proprietor takes on the risk of starting the production before they have all the funding. At least this is my understanding, Griffin or someone else please correct me if I'm wrong.

>34 Shadekeep: The only influence the CP board has had on selection so far is in offering estimates of cost and feasibility

Never have I said that the board has any influence on the selection. What I'm saying is that the members could start voting and/or proposing books that they know will sell on the open market. For example, if the price of Canticle was $500 because we could sell to non-members, do you not think this would influence the votes?

nov 21, 2022, 6:27 pm

>38 abysswalker: Naturally, a small overage is always a given.

Redigerat: nov 21, 2022, 6:50 pm

>39 filox: I'm a little skeptical that opening sales to non-members would push the price down that much. Pricing depends largely on a point in the edition size where the setup costs are distributed such that the distribution is reasonable. Fine presswork has both high setup and high per unit costs, which creates sort of an upside-down-logarithmic pricing scale (somebody who wasn't a religion major can probably tell me the word I'm looking for here). The financing will work so long as we have sufficient orders to reach the "flattish" part of the scale, but at that point it takes many many many orders to see significant decreases in price.

Let's see about the cheaper Canticle specifically. Assuming the following setup costs: $150 per lock up, $150 per quarto polymer plate, $150 per ink. And the following per unit costs: $0.50 per sheet on Superfine, $1 per impression. We're looking at printing costs that look something like this:

1 Copy: $30,450 each in printing costs
10 Copies: $3,180 each
25 Copies: $1,362 each
50 Copies: $756 each
75 Copies: $554 each
100 Copies: $453 each
250 Copies:$271.20 each
500 Copies: $210.60 each

That's just printing, so we also need to factor bindery work, royalty because the work is in copyright, design work, shipping pallets to and fro, etc . BUT we sort of get a sense of the scale of things from printing alone. At ~75 copies, we're looking at a total cost per copy a little above $1,000 probably. (The Advisory Board estimate basically says as much.). You're completely right, >39 filox:, that if we did sell many many more, the cost might be able to be brought down to $500, but we'd need to sell a LOT more. Double or triple the number of member copies, likely.

Some may wonder, "But wait! Presses like Thornwillow routinely offer novel-length books using the same technologies (Heidelberg, polymer) and smaller edition sizes for a lower price!"

They may just be losing money, but also their operations are in-house. In essence, a printer/publisher may not charge their collectors $150 per lock-up on a book they themselves are publishing, whereas they will charge $150 per lock-up to a client. There are many, many ways in which commissioning work from craftspeople adds greater cost than if the craftspeople are just doing the work for their own pursuits.

Redigerat: nov 21, 2022, 7:41 pm

>41 grifgon: Exponential decay?

nov 21, 2022, 8:43 pm

>36 Glacierman: Good points, and I didn't really think of it that way, but it makes sense when you lay it out. If it's not funded by members, it doesn't happen, so yes, opening it to a wider pool doesn't really make much sense. The main benefit I could think of is that there would simply be more copies out there to perhaps draw someone into being a member later, assuming membership opens up.

>39 filox: That's fair, it could in theory influence members to vote up titles that would sell better. Though at least what grifgon has posted shows this is not the instant "win" it might appear, so it might not be much of a factor ultimately.

You've all convinced me, keep it just to the members this time. If you introduce too many variables after the experiment has begun, you no longer know what the results mean.

nov 21, 2022, 11:05 pm

I was one of the ~50 who signed up for CP and did not submit a proposal (an extremely challenging period of time for my family). I had every intention of submitting a proposal; I procrastinated and missed the deadline. I’m not sure of why the others didn’t submit proposals; however, I’m fairly certain a number of them would appreciate a “second chance” to participate (I would). I take full responsibility for missing out on this unique opportunity.

After reading Griffin’s “financial statement”, I’m don’t know what difference an additional 25-40 additional orders would make. I do remember a discussion about a rule which would allow members to miss a submission and maintain membership provided they submitted a proposal the following year. I provide this as a perspective on a way forward to reduce individual costs without disregard for the CP charter.

I have learned much about fine press books and the wonderful publishers/artisans who produce beautiful volumes and have added several to my collection. I will continue to follow the progress of the venture with great interest.

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