5 min read

Plans Meet Reality.

Hi folks, lots of updates to share with you today.

Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama, from this morning's walk.

I’m going to be sending two versions of this update: a short one to my Kickstarter supporters, and a longer one to those of you subscribe to my book newsletter. Some of you may receive both. I apologize for the redundancy, as I transition from Kickstarter to my own newsletter.

I’ve been in Kyoto for about 10 days now, and spent most of that time improving the Engish as well as Japanese text, finding typos, and other small changes. I'm sure there are more typos, hiding until after the book is printed.

I have also met twice with the printing company, SunM Color. I first met them through my work with Kyoto Journal and was immediately impressed with the work they do.

The first meeting was about discussing what I wanted and what they could do. They sent me a formal estimate. I grimaced, then sent them a 50% deposit for the book. Yesterday, I gave them the data for the pages of the book. So the wheels are turning!

Thanks again to my friends for reading, finding typos and offering suggestions. The book will be better for your work on it!

So, back to reality. Even the best plans do not work out quite as imagined, when they are faced with the actual work to be done.

As with many projects, we will have to accept a specification that is not exactly what I had hoped for, while managing increased cost and longer turnaround time.

It happens with everything I guess, but it’s not fun.

But the good news is, the book can be done at a cost I can afford, in a way that will bring me joy, and on a timeline that everyone will be happy with.

Spec changes: it seems the special Japanese(?) binding to make the pages lay flat conflicts with the use of a hard cover. I feel very strongly about the lay flat pages since I’m using many photos that spread across pages and I want to be able to see the entire photo.

So I had to give up on the hard cover. What we are going with instead is a heavyweight paper cover, when combined with the inside paper glued to it, plus a full-color UV-coated dust jacket, should result in a fairly substantial feeling cover.

We looked at many different books SunM has produced in order to decide what kind of cover, binding and paper to use. One of the more impressive was my friend John Einarsen’s book, This Very Moment. it’s a very nice book of Miksang contemplative photographs by the editor of Kyoto Journal. Here’s the link to more information if you’re interested:


The printing cost will be about 25% more than I planned. And shipping will be expensive, even more than the to me outrageous prices all of you already paid. But I can put together the extra money to deliver the books you’ve ordered and I’ve promised. That will not stop me. My return and potential future profit will be in the books that are not yet sold, books that will spend months or maybe even years taking up space in my house. (I hope not!)

Delivery of the books to me should be at the end of November, a few weeks later than I expected, but earlier than SunM had originally quoted. That still gives me several weeks to get them boxed and shipped all of you for the holidays. Even including customs delays it should take 7 to 10 days from the time I ship to the time you get them.

Note about import duty: Individual orders to the United States will not incur incoming customs duty when they arrive in the United States. It should be just like when you order an iPhone online: your phone ships by international express mail and arrives at your doorstep.

Folks in Europe, I think you are used to paying VAT or other duty for products coming from outside the EU, and I expect these books will be no different. I don’t know what the situation is to Canada or other countries, but when I have a chance I’ll see what I can find out for you.

Right now, my two concerns are 1) the cover dust jacket, and 2) how to package the books in a sturdy, premium way to be shipped. More to come on these topics.

In related news, Kyoto Journal, a 30 year old magazine about the arts and culture in Kyoto that many of you may know about, in their next issue #105, is going to feature my photo on the cover and have a feature story about my book inside. So check it out at the link above.

Kickstarter is quite stingy with your personal information. They only provided me your nickname. I guess that’s a good idea I guess. So soon I will be sending you a form to fill out with your shipping information. Watch for it, and make sure it’s properly filled out.

In two weeks or maybe sooner, I will be able to see a test print of some of the pages – on the actual paper, printed on the actual press, to confirm the color and what the actual pages of the book will look like.

In these days of print-on-demand I am used to submitting an Adobe PDF file for printing and have that be the end of it. Instead, SunM wants my original page layout files in Adobe inDesign, plus the original uncompressed image files. I delivered a total of 25 GB of data to them yesterday. I’m not used to giving up control of my files, but the idea is that they will put their legendary Japanese attention to detail on my work and adjust it to provide the highest possible quality out of their system – which they obviously know better than I.

Next is the cover. The outside dust jacket will be full color and UV coated, then the actual cover will be a monochrome version of that dust jacket on heavy paper stock. The front will look pretty much the same as the sample book and logo image you’ve been seeing since the beginning. The image will wrap around the spine, with the title repeated on the spine.

But how thick is the book and therefore how big is the spine? The printer will produce a bound copy of blank pages so we can experience the feel of the real book. And measure how big it is! I’m sorry if I’m boring you experienced bookmakers, but this is new to me.

The back cover is still undesigned. I am expecting to have another book photo, with some descriptive copy, the required barcodes and other additional information.

For the online version, I’m expecting to provide a PDF file which will look great viewed on your large screen monitor, like an iMac. Since InDesign supports it I have been doing some experiments with the EPUB format as well. EPUB is great, but it’s not really designed for a photo book — although it does feel more like a book.

Anyway, that's a lot of updates. Thanks for reading to the very end! 😀