It’s always been a hard sell, getting people to buy a compilation of work they believe they have already read (though that seems mostly to apply to cartoon compilations — books which reprint newspaper columns regularly hit the bestseller list). But leaving that aside, I’m beginning to wonder if print anthologies of cartoons will be yet another victim of the intertubes. Having a book to thumb through at bedtime or in the bathroom or whatever is clearly an entirely different experience than sitting at the computer, clicking through archives, waiting for graphics to load, etc. Whether that, combined with a general desire to support artists whose work one finds worthwhile, is enough to continue to induce people to hand over hard earned dollars in the “information wants to be free” age remains to be seen.
The thing is, even though the cartoons have already been written and drawn, these books still consume a disproportionate amount of my time and energy to produce, and this one was a particular struggle (for reasons I’ll write about some other day). And hard as it is to believe, I don’t make much money from them — I mainly keep putting them out because I like having the object, I like having my work collected in a solid form which I can physically hand to another human being. I’m old school that way. But if we’ve reached the point at which the cost-benefit ratio has tipped too far in the direction of cost, I can probably live with that too. It would definitely eliminate a huge source of stress and aggravation from my life — but again, that’s a discussion for another day.
… adding (and editing, to reinforce the point): no need to feel defensive if you don’t want to buy it, or can’t afford it, or whatever. It’s okay, honest. The question is more collective than individual. (Though of course, I should include a link in case you do want to.)
Should also note Amazon numbers are only the crudest indicator of overall sales. I won’t know how well this thing really sold until it’s remaindered! Ha, I kid. Sort of.
…update 2: I work pretty much in a vacuum, so when something like this comes in, it totally makes my day:
I just bought your book. It wasn’t because of you made me feel defensive (honest?) but I decided that after spending years checking your blog almost every single day that it was the right thing to do . . .
When I first discovered This Modern World I was working doing telesales for a company that put on executive summits for CEO of large companies and politically I considered myself an “independent moderate”. I thought both parties were operating in good faith and merely disagreed about how to reach the same goals.
A buddy of mine forwarded me a few cartoons of yours (I wish I could remember which ones were the first I saw) and I was immediately hooked on your work. I went back and read all of your archives and made sure to check the site regularly., Soon I was checking out some of the blogs you link to (first Roy Edroso’s blog was the first to become a staple for me, now I’m a junkie for A Tiny Revolution as well). At first a lot of the attitudes and ideas I was encountering were unfamiliar to me and didn’t make a ton of sense, slowly but surely though things started to come together for me in a way they hadn’t before. Ideas that I formerly held — “Bill Clinton as populist hero”– “Ronald Reagan as economic smart guy who defeated communism” — were re-examined and it became clearer to me the kind of America I wanted to live in, and that the corporatocracy of the Clinton years wasn’t the best I could hope for as a progressive.
Now, years later, I’m proud to buy your book, and would encourage you not to feel squeamish about pimping it on the website. Remember, it’s for our own good, we can’t afford NOT to get this book!