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Deskwork days ...

Posted by Dave Bull at 7:51 AM, October 15, 2010 [Permalink]

When I finished printing on the recent batch of the current print, I put this notice up on the webcam, to let people know I wouldn't be at the bench over the next few days:

"This batch of prints is now done. After a few days of deskwork, printing of the next batch will get under way, probably on the weekend sometime ..."

Well, here we are in the middle of the 'deskwork' ...

After updating my bookkeeping software with the information on this new print, I pull up the list of collectors and start the invoicing. I still get a good kick out of seeing this every month. I'm not the kind of guy who sits here rubbing his hands together counting his money (what money?), but it is very satisfying watching this stream of invoices pouring out of the printer (a small Canon laser model).

At the same time that the physical copies of the invoices are being generated, the information is also being sent to a database on the woodblock.com website, where collectors are able to access it. Once the invoicing is finished, my software fires off an email to each person letting them know that the billing has now been done, and this includes a link to the page on the website where they can see this new invoice. This page is linked directly to a payment processor. It's not quite 'one-click' for the collectors to make their payments, but it's pretty close!

I then gather everything together ready for Ichikawa-san's pickup later in the afternoon (I called her a couple of days ago, once the timetable had become clear, to let her know when this would be happening ...):

Top left of that pic shows the stack of story sheets, which I printed last night (Epson laser). On top of them is the pack of trimmed and signed prints. Bottom left are the sheets of address labels, the invoices, and post office payment slips (for Japanese collectors who choose to pay that way). Middle right are the mat boards, with the print title, which I printed yesterday (Epson inkjet). Bottom right is a 'master list' for Ichikawa-san, showing her 'who gets what'. This is necessary because some of the collectors are 'gift' subscriptions, and they get no invoices, some are 'complimentary' (my folks!), and others may have notes or other items to be included. She simply follows the instructions on this list, and packs as directed.

I forgot to include them in the photo, but I also prepare for her a stack of a recent commemorative stamp issue:

Having nice stamps on the packages has become a very much appreciated 'feature' of these shipments, and I've heard from quite a number of the collectors that these are eagerly awaited by stamp collecting family members! This month's issue features scenes of the Inland Sea. (I am a 'very important customer' of my little local post office!)

While she is here this evening I will also load into her car a couple of cartons of the cardboard shipping cases for this series. These are working very well. The entire package - including print, story sheet, backboard, plastic protector, paperwork, cardboard stiffener, and outer wrapper - comes in at just under 150 grams, saving 90 yen over the next level of postage (that's more than a dollar for overseas collectors), and we have yet to receive a single report of damage during shipping.

With that preparation out of the way, the next waiting job is to prepare the 'back issues' - prints from my previous sets being sent out to collectors, a job that is done on the 15th of every month. It's a sprinkling of poets' prints, some Solitudes books, and a few prints from the Surimono Albums, as well as a couple from the previous Treasure Chest:

Starting next month, that will be augmented by a number of new collectors who have joined this current series upon seeing the NHK program the other day, and who have started at #1 ...

This next part is fun. While I was preparing those back numbers, I heard the 'you have mail' chime ringing in the background now and then, and when I had a moment free to check, found that a number of those emails announcing the invoicing had been received ... and processed. A stream of notifications from Paypal has been coming in ...

I'll watch those continue to arrive over the next few days, and will then initiate a 'draw down' to my bank account here in Japan (converting to yen during the transaction). Come the end of the month, the bank will reach in to the account automatically, and take out what they need for the mortgage payment. I also transfer some of the yen over to my account at 7-11, from which I pay other bills as required, and I use the 7-11 ATM for such bits of cash as I need (for the supermarket, etc.).

That is something else that I still shake my head in amazement at ... pieces of blank washi paper have been transformed into food and shelter, all in the space of about two weeks, start to finish. Incredible!

The only time in my life when the 'system' worked more directly than this was when I was busking in London back in the early 1970s. I would play my flute in front of the Royal Festival Hall for an hour or so, then pick up the coins and head off to get some fish and chips, paying from the stash.

The downside to living this way is of course that there is no 'backup' ... no 'net'. You keep running, you can keep eating. But stop for a minute ...

And speaking of 'stopping' ... no way! This evening's work is to do the sizing on the paper for the second batch of this image, and printing will get under way (again!) in the morning. Those prints will go into my inventory, and will eventually be sent out as 'back issues', as we saw here.


Following comment posted by: jan on October 15, 2010 11:21 PM

I have admired the very sturdy yet lightweight packaging and the way everything is 'of a piece' in the issuing of the prints, and now I can see how it has all been very carefully thought out. What a methodical brain!

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