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Book Announcement : 'Your First Print'

Posted by Dave Bull at 10:27 AM, October 1, 2009

Do you think the Woodblock RoundTable has been just too quiet for the past month or so? Well, it certainly has, but don't jump to the conclusion that this has anything to do with the 'procrastination' post I made a while back. Far from it.

Time for an announcement. (Trumpets!) I have spent most of the last month busy with keyboard, camera, audio recorder, and video camera, and am ready to let the results loose. My first, and very much long awaited (by me!) book on woodblock printmaking is about to be published.

Is this my mythical 'Encyclopedia of Traditional Japanese Printmaking', about to come to life at last? Nope. You'll have to wait a bit longer for that one. The new book is entitled 'Your First Print', and is a complete guide to 'everything you need to know' to make a woodblock print using the traditional Japanese methods. Everything from information on the tools and materials, right through a very detailed step-by-step explanation of the whole process.

As you can see from the title page, I am issuing this as an eBook. But not just an 'ordinary' eBook - as a RichMedia eBook. Using modern technology, it is now possible to embed multi-media items within a .pdf file, and that is what I have done: the book contains the normal text and images that you would expect, but also has plenty of audio and video content too. You've seen the Harry Potter magic books where the images come to motion as you turn the pages ... well, here it is in real life! And it works on both Macs and PCs.

On this page, for example, which discusses gradation printing:

... the image in the top right hand corner is 'hot'. When you click it (not here, but in the eBook), it starts to play, and you watch (and listen) as I narrate a session of gradation printing.

There are videos on each step of the carving process, of course on the printing, on sharpening, and even a visit to my workroom as I spend a day carving one of my own blocks.

For more information on the eBook, please visit this page of my Mokuhankan webshop. Linked from that page, you can find a sample file to download and try out, containing more than 20 complete pages from the book, including the videos on sharpening and gradation printing that I just mentioned. Give it a try!

I'm not taking orders for the book just yet, as we are still in the final stages of editing, but I'll let you know when it's ready for downloading. Soon!


Following comment posted by: Annie B on October 1, 2009 11:35 PM

Congratulations, Dave! The new book is beautiful. And it's a much-needed resource for beginning woodblock printers. I'll definitely be adding this to the "resources" handouts that I give to students in the workshops I teach.

Following comment posted by: Barbara Mason on October 2, 2009 12:55 AM

I am teaching a lot and would like a copy for each of my students so that means about 10 or so....
What a great thing to do. Thanks for putting this togther

Following comment posted by: Mike Lyon on October 2, 2009 3:24 AM

OH, Dave!!! This looks absolutely FABULOUS! I'm betting that (as with everything you do) this will be a first class production A-Z! I'm also betting that even though you've called it 'Your First Print,' even veterans of MANY prints will find some very useful information and technique -- you can bet that _I_ will be purchasing a copy as soon as it's available -- THANKS SO MUCH for doing this!!!

Following comment posted by: Tom Kristensen on October 2, 2009 6:39 AM

Beautiful work Dave, I'll be getting myself a cd - no doubt it will come with a nice cover - and have it in my reference collection. I'm sure it will be the best value and most useful 'book' on the shelf.

Following comment posted by: Dave on October 2, 2009 8:58 AM

a cd - no doubt it will come with a nice cover

The CD is going to be a little 'late'. In order to get a reasonable price for having them pressed, of course I have to order a larger quantity. It seems that at around a thousand copies or so, the price comes down to a reasonable level.

But with this book being fresh and new just heading out into the world, I'm sure that there are going to be quite a few errors, amendments, omissions, etc. and etc.in it. (I'm still finding issues everyday, even in places that I thought were pretty well nailed down.) So I'm going to wait until version '1.x' is ready before actually having the thing pressed.

It might settle down quite quickly once I start getting feedback from a lot of users/readers, or it might take a bit more time. We'll see.

So when I open the page for orders, the CD option will be 'greyed-out' at first. (Or should I accept orders for it, and ship them later? Not sure ...)

Following comment posted by: Marc Kahn on October 2, 2009 9:54 AM

May I suggest that you sell CD "Futures" with all CD purchasers able to download the latest versions until the CD is ready for delivery.


Following comment posted by: Dave on October 2, 2009 11:11 AM

all CD purchasers able to download the latest versions

Actually, that's the way it is already set up. On the page where people place their order, the CD option includes: "a complimentary copy of the downloadable version is also provided (immediately after purchase), so you can begin reading while waiting for your CD to arrive".

So maybe I should just leave it open for people to order either way, and make sure that it's clear that the CD will be 'a while' before it arrives.

Following comment posted by: Constance Brewer on October 2, 2009 11:15 AM

Awesome! Now maybe I can finally get this woodblock printing stuff figured out. :)

Following comment posted by: preston on October 2, 2009 11:32 PM

Dave, my link will not let me order the download version. The "add to cart" is not a hot link.

Is this feature working? I am ready for this long awaited information, thanks.


Following comment posted by: Dave on October 2, 2009 11:44 PM

The "add to cart" is not a hot link. Is this feature working?

I'm not ready yet. As I mentioned in the post above, the book is now in the final editing stages. Once it's done - perhaps in just a few days - I'll post about it, and will then of course open up the 'Add to Cart' link on the catalogue page.

Thanks for the interest!

Following comment posted by: Tom Kristensen on October 3, 2009 8:54 AM

Hey Dave,
Of course I have no idea what things cost in Japan, but where I am you can get a print run of 500 for a decent unit price. A good place to find cheap quotes is in the free press advertising music. A box of 100 cds is a bulky thing and ten boxes is more than you want to store in your house - believe me, I got bulk cds that will follow me to the grave. I would go for a smaller run and charge a higher price. $20 would seem pretty reasonable.

Following comment posted by: Dave on October 3, 2009 9:09 AM

I would go for a smaller run and charge a higher price

Last time I had some discs replicated (for a 'Media Kit' DVD I made to promote my exhibition a few years back), I used a company in Taiwan. The price was pretty good, and I'll probably use them again for this job. This is their US information site. I'm looking at getting 500 (maybe 1000) CDs, with a 4-colour offset wallet-type package (very easy to mail, unlike a Jewelcase). It comes to less than a buck each, and in that slim packaging, the entire inventory will be just a couple of small boxes that will tuck away in the storeroom.

For smaller runs, I would be looking at 'duplication' rather than 'replication', but I don't want to go that way - I want high quality pressed discs that will last a lifetime, not stuff made on a disc burner.

As for the price I'm going to charge for the discs, I think a $5 'premium' over the cost of the book itself is reasonable. I don't want to push the price of this thing much higher.

Following comment posted by: Dave on October 4, 2009 5:15 PM

I'll be getting myself a cd - no doubt it will come with a nice cover

Well, there is only one possible design for the disc, isn't there!

Here are the four panels of the sleeve, which opens to show an inner spread:

Comes together like this:

Following comment posted by: Dale Evans on October 7, 2009 10:55 AM

Put me in line for the new CD when it is ready! Meanwhile, all your readers are looking forward to the downloadable version!! This book is absolutely STUPENDOUS! Even though you've called it 'Your First Print,' carvers and printers at ANY stage of their profession will find it incredibly useful. I have already learned so much from your website, and this book is the icing on the cake! THANKS SO MUCH for doing this!

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