Friday, May 05, 2006

Kickin' it Google IPO Style

A couple of days ago, I got the proof copy of the new book back from the printers.  The inside looks fantastic, but there were a couple of problems with the cover, so I got on the phone with the folks from 48hourbooks.com, who were very helpful and agreed to lighten up the cover image (which was a little too dark to see the details in it), and to make sure that the covers would be UV coated to avoid smudging.  (The proof copy wasn't coated, and ended up with visible fingerprints just from normal handling with clean hands.)

As it worked out, they were gracious enough to offer the UV coating at no extra cost (even though I had offered to pay), since they were planning to offer UV coating soon anyway; their machine just hasn't arrived yet.  So they're sending the covers out to another company to get it done, which will take a few more days than planned.

So the current plan is this: I won't be shipping the books until the week of May 15th, but I should be opening up for online reservations next week.  After a lot of thought (not to mention a lot of playing with different shopping cart systems), I've decided to implement a Google IPO-style "dutch auction"with sealed bids, according to the following rules:

  • If you don't care what number you get, just bid the regular price of $29.95
  • If you want to get a low-numbered copy, bid a higher amount as you see fit
  • Shipping and handling will be free for bids of $50 or more; otherwise it will be $6 inside the US and $15 outside
  • You can request a custom message that I will sign your copy with (but I do reserve the right to change it or leave it off if I find it inappropriate).  If you don't request a specific message, you'll get whatever motivational soundbite or tired phrase of well-wishing comes to my mind when I sign it.  ;-)
  • To prevent excessive bidding wars and last-minute sniping, bids will only be revealed as aggregate statistics, if at all
  • One book per customer until the auction closes; after that you can buy as many as you want
  • Books will be allocated first by the bid amount, then by the bid's timestamp.
  • If there aren't enough books for everybody, the people who got left out will be given a chance to get a copy of the second edition at its regular price plus shipping and handling.  The second edition will not be signed or numbered, nor will it carry the "special limited edition" imprints that the first edition does.
  • The auction will run from some time on Monday, May 8th through some time on Monday, May 15th, for a total of at least 168 hours.  The exact start and end times will not be announced in order to avoid creating load spikes due to "flash crowds".

This approach will let me use a single ordering system to sell all of the first edition copies, while allowing the most eager collectors to fight each other over that coveted copy #1.  Of course, you'll be fighting blind, which means you'll have to decide based on what it's worth to you, not what somebody else is willing to reveal they maybe think it's worth.

Not everybody likes doing it that way, of course.  My wife, for example, likes to wait until the last minute to bid on eBay, whereas I like to just place one bid, for whatever I'm willing to pay.  I'm also the kind of guy who doesn't really negotiate; I say what I'm willing to pay (or be paid), and that's that.  I don't have a lot of respect for phony haggling where people use "starting prices" and expect you to do the same.  If you need negotiating room, you should have things that can be traded off to raise or lower the price.

Anyway, that's why in this auction, you'll be getting only one shot to bid on a low-numbered copy.  So make it your best offer, or somebody else will get the copy that you wanted.

Much ado about nothing?

Every so often I marvel at all the things I'm doing for this little project.  Sometimes it seems like an awful lot of excitement for such a little thing as a book of stuff that's already available for free online.  But then I remember a saying my wife and I coined a long time ago: "There's a first time for everything, but for each thing there's only one first time."  I'm never going to have another first book launch, or another first copy of the first book.  I guess if I'm going to sell my publishing virginity online, I should try to have as much fun as possible, not to mention get the best possible price for it.  ;-)

Plus, the darn thing just looks so good!  Leslie and I have been positively drooling over the proof copy, although perhaps that's a natural reaction to one's "first born".  But here's the front cover image, so you can see for yourself:

You, Version 2.0: 28 Mind-Expanding essays from dirtSimple.org by Phillip J. Eby

By Monday, I should also be able to create a little PDF sampler showing some of the inside pages and the back cover, so you can see what's in the book that's not on the website.

So far for me it's been both pleasant and slightly surreal to have a copy in my hands.  I read the text sometimes and go, "Hey, I wrote that".  And oddly enough, it's a lot easier for me to find stuff in the book than it is on the website -- even without using the table of contents.  Go figure.

Anyway, in just a while you'll be able to share in the surreal joy and delightful convenience for yourself.  Bidding begins Monday!