The promise of numbers

Everyone seems to talk about the numbers, politicians, business men, car salesman, authors of books about publishing. The numbers look promising. The world of finance and the race track have a lot in common. How long is that print run; what is the size of your edition? 64% of adult readers think more people should read poetry.

The Book and Arts section of  The Economist almost always reminds me there are very interesting books out there. Ninety eight percent of the time they are fiction or non fiction/ historical novels /biographies and once in a great while something about poetry or a poet. The August 25th issue of The Economist had several reviews of books and one of a film.
1. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. 2. Ways of Forgetting. Ways of Remembering: Japan in the Modern World. 3. The Spy who Loved: The secrets and Lives of Christine Granville. 4. The Living Moment: Modernism in a Broken World. 5. The Queen of Versailles, a film. 6. Philida. 7. Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance.

The Economist blog, Prospero. is for books, art, and culture. I’m not sure if you’ll find the books from issue reviews but certainly if you look up the issues. Be aware there is a five visit per month limit without a subscription. The books I list above, none of them is under the 208 pages of The Living Moment, a book about the modernist writers of the early twentieth century (Eliot, Mann, Marilynne Robinson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway) which is said to be accessible and entertaining.

I am struck by the size of the books and their prices which vary probably if they are hard or soft cover. Still, The Spy Who Loved is 426 pages; £18.99 or about $30.00. It’s not news to me that Macmillan can publish a 400 page book for less than I can. Partly due to recommendation by my distributor I raised prices. So by comparison, a 90 page poetry book at $16.95 costs almost as much as Andre Brink’s, Philida, 310 pages at $24.35. Which computes out to 310 pages being .07 per page, and 90 pages being .18 per page. Discounts then come into play. Amazon uses 55%, as many distributors do, which means a small press book of poetry at $16.95 pays the vendor $7.63. A single title shipped media mail costs about 2.40, the mailer costs .50, so the remainder is $4.73.

Sometimes, what may be called, the “big picture” adds to my sense of discouragement, the challenges start to pile up, “I must be blogging mad” no doubt. Then the voices of authority start in; somebody says, “Business plan; wouldn’t start a small press without being non-profit; you have to work 12 hour days for three years to get a business off the ground . . . ” Do you know that shrinking feeling? Suddenly I am small and stupid.

In a world that continually moves faster, and where companies get bigger and bigger, the notion of doing things slowly to do them well, or to forget about the best of the best, the shakers and movers we ought to be, which the culture of commerce seems to be steeped in, well, the refreshing David and Goliath story, one might say, turns that slump around. When someone who works with writers and publishers to help them with goals and better attitudes about how to get things done comes along and mentions that “we don’t seem to reward slowness in our culture,” I find it refreshing.

It takes some experience to learn to give ourselves breathing room. Think of the quality of our communication and service, our interaction with others in business, to remain positive about what we are doing, or feeling that it may be fine to take some time to get out of the office, take in a scenic vista or take a walk on the beach. Maybe it’s ‘learning things the hard way.’ If you can’t take a class in business or management, whatever may be your needs, sometimes our best instincts are the best advice, even for a particular moment. Focus and productivity are most rewarding.

One advantage to being self-employed is having some control over your time. When I feel like the little guy in a world of giants, the mental spin of certain situations can be negative. I take a walk outside for five minutes.

If you get the PND (Philanthropy News Digest) in an email like I do, you’ll see that grants in the millions are being given every day. Most go to established institutions with long-standing track records of doing good in their community or in the country. Getting help with being a non-profit and applying for grants costs money, too. The Foundation Center has lots of information available and many institutions like the Philanthropy Center at USM have subscribed to their database, and have open sessions for logged in users to learn to use it.

Deerbrook is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas.

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One thought on “The promise of numbers

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