Well my little Japan book, Feel the Earth Turning, was published in early October, and then coincidentally a few days later the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell was planning a little festival of Japanese culture and organizers thought to include readings by some local poets who have some poetry about Japan.  A friend of mine who has connections with the museum kindly suggested that they include me in the program of readers.  So as a result I got this little reading gig at the museum this past Saturday afternoon.

It was my first public presentation of this quirky, oddball little book.  I didn’t know what people’s reactions would be.  But when I got there I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was an audience of about 30 people, which by poetry-reading standards is a pretty big crowd!  I had been afraid that no one would show up.  And when I read all of the people seemed to be quite attentive.  In the back of my mind while I was reading these stream-of-consciousness prose poems this thought kept occurring to me: wow I can’t believe people are actually paying attention to this!  I mean, I was certainly trying to make my delivery as interesting as possible but when you do a reading you just never know if people will respond to it or if instead they will doze off, start fiddling with their cellphones, start talking to their friends, or whatever.  A couple of times when I read a passage that I thought was a little bit funny I was hoping that people would at least chuckle a little bit but no one did.  Maybe everyone was just dumbfounded by it and were just sitting there trying to figure out what the hell I was reading and why!  I don’t know.  But anyway I had fun.  The other readers were very good and all in all it was a fun event.

My attentions are now splitting off into two separate projects.  One of which is the novel which I’ve recently started working on.  The other is my intent to republish my little art book Inner Windows with CreateSpace, using my own publishing imprint (Century House Books).  I originally published this little book of artistic photos on blurb.com back in January, but over the past few months I’ve become somewhat dissatisfied with blurb.com, so I’ve withdrawn it and I’ve started working on formatting it for CreateSpace.

The blurb.com platform is actually pretty good in many ways.  The quality of their color printing is excellent and they use very good quality paper.  And they have a free book-formatting software tool (BookSmart) that is easy to use and allows the author to setup the formatting for his/her book quickly.  I have an artist friend who publishes his art books on blurb.com and they are beautiful.  My main criticism of blurb is that the resulting books have to be priced too high.  When I published Inner Windows on blurb I was pleased with the resulting product but I felt that I had to apologize to everyone for the high price of it.  Even when I reduced the price as low as blurb.com would let me (and I was making essentially no profit on the books) I thought the price was STILL way too high.  And blurb.com’s shipping charges are rather high as well.  I wanted a way to publish the book in a way that would allow me to sell it at a fairly low price so that it might then be available to a wider audience.  Hence, CreateSpace.  However it does have some drawbacks.  CreateSpace uses paper that is not quite as good for photographs and art as the paper you can get on blurb.com, although I think it is still of sufficient quality for my purposes.  And CreateSpace doesn’t provide any kind of book-formatting software.  The author is responsible for every tiny detail of the book’s format, including the cover, so as to ensure that it is totally publication-ready.  Nothing is done for you.  So it is a very exacting process.  It helps to be at least a little bit obsessive-compulsive, like me!  And CreateSpace is limited as far as the sizes and shapes of the books that you can publish.  Inner Windows on blurb.com was a 7 by 7 square which was a nice format for a photo book, but CreateSpace doesn’t allow for square books.  All books they produce have to be taller than they are wide.

What I really appreciate about CreateSpace is the fact that the resulting books can be reasonably-priced, even when you add in the author’s royalty, and that I can use my own publishing imprint just by spending a paltry $10 for a custom ISBN at the time I publish the book.  On blurb if I had wanted to use my own publishing imprint I would have had to add another special charge for this to the price of each book(!), which would have pushed the already too-high price even higher.

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