If you haven’t heard already, here’s the big news — our webshop is finally up! Yes, our books are finally up for sale and we are gearing towards new titles, but what I really wanted to write about is what took us this long.
When the idea for Amaranthine Books came to me, it was very innocent and dreamy – to create high quality books filled with wondrous illustrations and easter eggs to increase the reading experience. Even more than that, I wanted to create something that was essentially a piece of art, one that could be passed down to the generations coming after us as a standing testament to our character and interests. Pretty ambitious, now that I read it back.
But when you actually start working on it, you meet all these obstacles and then slowly, little by little, you start to think about the quality’s silent killer — compromises. Don’t get me wrong, compromises are sometimes a necessary fact of life. Some even spark your creativity to find a better way, but I’m not talking about those; I’m talking about the ones that make you distort your vision.
A few generic examples:
“If we use this material instead, we might save this much in production.”
“This will be too expensive!”
“What if we lose the box and just sell the book?”
“This way is faster, but it might create defects in some books.”
And never come back!
It Get’s Crazier
Let me give you a more specific example — we tried to figure out what would be the best size of a book to fit in your hands: size of margins so your fingers don’t obscure text; paper thickness and quality so you don’t see the content of the previous page (and many more things). But it turned out that if we reduced the book’s size by a mere centimetre or so on the top and on the side, we might actually fit twice the amount of pages on the quire of paper… I said no.
Think of the costs!
Let me be clear, that would save us money (I can see some people going nuts over this “simple” save we skipped). Most probably wouldn’t notice. But I know a few people would. I know I would. And it would just look wrong. Tiny. Diminished. And that is just one of the many moments when we had to choose to stay on our path. Looking back, I could see a pattern and I decided to make it our rule. When it comes to quality of the book — no compromises.
It Will Be Ready When It’s Ready™
People used to ask me many times what’s happening with the project before we completely finished the production and launched the web shop. “It’s not ready yet” would be my typical response and in essence it’s was true (working two jobs at the time took its toll as well). It just wasn’t ready. We were trying to figure out the funds, the best way for production, fast and safe shipping etc. It took us over a year to get here and to open the webshop. It should go much faster in the future, now that we know the drill, but most importantly we wanted to make it right. I’m sure there are more areas that can be improved and that is why we will not stop working on finding the best way.
After all, we are asking money for this
All this is the reason why half of our book is actually hand-made; why we hid easter eggs inside; why we created double-sided illustrations that will reflect the protagonist(s), and so on. All this lead to high production price and, invariably, higher selling price. Now, we could have made a few compromises, lower the price and start shipping, but… That wouldn’t do it, not when you want to create something that you’ll enjoy making and that other people will enjoy using. So we decided that we should create what we believe in, find a most effective way to produce it and then determine the price. And that stands for all the future books we’ll tackle. I know many economists would disagree with me, but to us quality comes first. Either we do it right or not at all and in time our customers will determine whether we are worthy or not. So sure, we might have done it cheaper (and sooner)… But we wanted to do it better.