Yesterday was a very frustrating day. The good news is that all work on the book is finished. The long hours of interviewing, translating, and computer work have paid off, and I have what I think is a beautiful thing.
For the past month, I have been asking over and over for a final price from the printer. I had some idea based on the estimate he gave me before we started. Yesterday, on the very last possible day, one day before I leave for Mexico, he gave me a price which was, frankly, ridiculous.
The whole point of the book, beyond documentation and celebration of the people and their culture, was as a vehicle by which to make my donation to the community worth more. Based on the printer’s previous estimates, they could have sold the books, and, along with spreading knowledge of their community, nearly doubled my donation. The price I was given yesterday completely negated that. It was almost double the original estimate, and so high that I might as well just write a check and distribute it to the people rather than making them sell books for it.
I don’t blame him, the issue likely lies with the fact that he buys materials from a reseller who in turn buys from another reseller, with the price rising with every transaction. The discrepancy between the original estimate and the final price is what throws all my plans off.
After much struggle, he brought the price down as much as he could, but it is still $30 each for a 9×12 book, and more than $20 for the paperback! These are retail prices in the US. Nobody here will pay even that, much less enough to make it worth the investment.
I am not looking to make a profit. I am not getting anything but a few copies of the book out of this. I am trying to get the most for this community with the resources I have. It simply does not serve them to pay this price.
So, after much struggle, I have decided to buy 100 hard bound books (reduced from 300) from the local printer because I promised one to each of the people who participated, and in order to have a few to bring home. I am also calling on my friend and former maestra who lives in Guatemala City for help in finding a printer there who will hopefully give us a better price on a larger quantity of paperbacks that can be sold here.
Copies of all videos, photos, and completed PDFs of the book will be left here for the community to use as they see fit.
This has been a beautiful, uplifting, and expiring experience, which only adds to the frustration and disappointment I am feeling right now.