Those of you who read my Facebook Photography page will have heard this already (but read on because that is not what this post is about) …..but the Rivers Of Steel organization is going to be co-marketing my eBook “The Carrie Furnace” with me. They not only want to sell it from their website, but also requested a physical product to sell in their brick and mortar gift shop.
What a great opportunity! But it raised some challenges that I had never really thought about. Providing the finished product via download was relatively easy. By simply uploading your file and paying a service like e-junkie 5 bucks a month, one can get an attractive check out cart for your website and you are done. But think about what it would require to put together a physical product. You can’t exactly just burn the file to a CD and be done! There needs to be a professional appearance to the final product.
The disk needs to be attractive and have some sort of identifying label. Then what do you put it in? You can’t just slap it into an empty clear jewel case and throw it on a shelf. There needs to be some type of packaging that will serve to catch a potential customers eye and make them want to investigate and learn more. There are also other informational nuances. Customers will want to know what exactly is on the disk, what equipment will they need to play it, and why they should want to buy it. And then there is the cost…..disks, packaging etc all add to the cost of the product.
Needless to say, these issues engendered quite a bit of thought on my part and I decided that I definitely wanted a professional appearing presentation. What would I need?
1) A LightScribe CD/DVD burner (about $40) to inscribe a label and image onto the surface of the CD itself. I thought an inkjet printed label would look too unprofessional and its application would be a bit irregular from disk to disk.
I had to choose a photo that would look good on the disk with the title and my name inscribed on top of it.
Oh yes, and I would need to buy LightScribe disks….about $45 for a hundred disks.
2) DVD/CD case. I decided to go with the type that movies come in as opposed to a jewel case. These movie cases come with a clear plastic pocket that spans the case. It would be a bit of work, but I could use photoshop to design what I thought would be an attractive and eye catching insert. Again, the image used would need to look good with words over it. My plan was for an image that had no top, bottom, left, or right so that I could wrap the image around the front and the back of the case. In the best of all worlds I thought I could use the same image for the disk and the case cover to give a consistent feel. The cover insert and the clips inside the case would also allow me to at least have my website URL visible to further market my work.
The cases, in lots of 100 were also about 50 cents each. Designing the insert was going to be difficult, but it would only have to be done once. Having it look good by printing it on photographic paper would add a bit to the expense.
3) Finally, I wanted to use the opportunity of creating a physical product to give the buyer a little something extra that might not normally be expected and that might whet their curiosity to see more of my work as well as to potentially differentiate my product from others on the shelf. One cover of the CD case has two little clips on the inside. My idea is to include with the CD a small original signed inkjet print of the furnace’s cast room that is a bit smaller than 5×7 inches. It is small enough that I don’t feel I am ‘giving my work away for nothing’ but large enough to show the quality of the work. The actual cost and time needed to add the photo is pretty minimal (though the overall time input to assemble the product is not) and will help justify the added price the customer will have to pay compared to the downloadable version of the eBook. This price increase is because I will have to charge for the physical materials and, more importantly, for the time involved to assemble the entire product (burned disk with files and picture, CD case insert, the print etc).
So there you have it. The more I thought about it the more I started to realize how much thought and effort has to go into producing a physical product instead of a downloadable file.
I haven’t had a chance to take a picture of the finished ‘objects’, so I will follow up this post with the next one which will have a few photos of the completed product.