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Old October 27th, 2008, 05:58 AM
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alanross alanross is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Outer Banks - U.S.A. Nags Head, NC
Posts: 1,904
I'm glad Sam posted to this forum - it reminded me I needed to post an update.

The last time I reported on the paperback version of our song books was over a year ago. Now that I've had better than a year's worth of experience with the books in paperback form, I have more results and tips to share with you...

1) Creation. You can use Hoster to create your song books and then your word processing program to style it to your liking. I use WordPerfect, but MSWord is just as good. Once you have your pages looking the way you want, you must convert them into .pdf format for the publisher. I use a free program call PrimoPDF. It works like a charm. You can get it from

2) Publishing. On the web site, upload your .pdf files for the body of your book, then upload your artwork or text to create your front and back covers. You will have to decide what type of binding to give your book, as well as size and style, but all that is explained on the Lulu web site. Once you've completed the publishing process on line, all you have to do is order the number of books you want and wait for them to arrive. I usually receive my full shipment within about 10 days.

3) Preparation. In my last post I suggested using clear packing tape to reinforce the binding and the open edges of the covers. This does work very well to protect the binding and the edge of the cover, but the rest of the cover will disintegrate rather rapidly. I have since discovered that the entire cover can be reinforced easily with 9"x12" self-adhesive laminate sheets.
Carefully apply the laminate sheet to the front cover so that 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of the sheet can be wrapped over the right edge of the front cover. This will protect the edge of the cover from falling appart as people thumb through the pages. Apply the same technique to the back cover of your book. Then reinforce the binding with 2" clear packing tape and trim the excess with a razor knife.
Books should be laminated before ever being used.

4) Durability. I have a set of books that is used 7 nights a week, 52 weeks/year. This set will last through about four months of very demanding usage, during the summer months, when they are being thoroughly abused by tourists who seem to have lost their minds because they've come to our beach to party and disrespect everything they can. I printed a set of eight books in May and during the craziness of the summer, one book was stolen, one book lost it's front cover from abuse and one book was saturated from a spilled drink. I was able to rescue the drowned book by pressing it and cooking out the moisture, so it was put back into service. This is pretty good, considering that during the summer months, we can have about 150 people grabbing, yanking, and generally abusing our books every single night.

By the end of the summer, I need to replace the books. I could either simply make a replacement order through Lulu, or (as is the case this year) I can print a new version which includes all the new songs I've added to our inventoy. I simply upload the new version to Lulu and place a new order. Very simple.

In the off-season, the abuse is seriously lessened and our "regulars" give the books far less punishment, so they last very nicely for eight to nine months, once they have been laminated. The locals are also the ones who purchase copies for themselves, so the books at the shows are practically paid for.

4) Cost-Efficiency. When we were producing the binder-style books, it cost more than $52.00 per book:
Binder = $8.00
160 Sheet protectors (per book) = $15.00
Photcopying ($.08/double sided page x 368 pages) = $29.00
Not to mention the ink and paper used to print out the original before copying. Add to that all time and effort it takes to stuff all the new pages into the sheet protectors and you're talking about a huge hassle. 20 books cost more than $1040.00

The published books through Lulu cost me about $12.00 each and I merely have to upload my song book files to their web site, click the order button and wait for them to arrive. Laminating sheets are relatively inexpensive - about a dollar per book.
Shipping is less expensive per book, the more books you order at a time, so shipping 20 books costs about $1.00/book.

An order of 20 books cost me around $280 or $14.00/book. That's a 73% savings! And the best part is that I don't have to stuff pages into sheet protectors!

With this kind of savings, even if all 20 books are stolen or lost to abuse, I can replace them all (twice!) and still save money.

Add to that, I sell the books as souveniers and to the locals to have their own copies and I can even off-set the cost of my books by that much more! After the first year of using the books, the net cost, after factoring in the income from selling books, I spent less than $80 to produce a total of 54 books for all our shows including replacement books and the books made available for sale at the shows.

One note: It's important to differentiate the look of the books for show use and the books for sale. I used black text on the spines of the books for sale and red text on the show books. I also placed a text box on the front cover of the show books saying that this book is our property and for use at the shows only. The doorman keeps his eyes open when people leave to make sure they are not walking out with a book and if they do, he can quickly peek at it to see if it's a purchased book or a show book. Again, last year, only one book was stolen and that was on a night when the place was so packed, it was impossible to keep an eye on everything.

And finally: With the cost savings being so great, I can now afford to produce supplemental listings. Using the same format and publishing through, I just generated an additional list of all the songs added since the last publishing and published a supplemental song listing that is available at our shows. Whenever someone asks if we have songs not listed in thebooks, I direct them to the additional song listing and they can find everything we've added. It looks way more professional than a few sheets of paper stapled together and I can format the additional listing like I do the song books with a separate section for songs by artist, by duet and by song title. I've added over 1400 songs since June and the additional listing published in paperback this month came to 50 pages and people love it. I only need to publish two or three of these additional listing per show and they only cost about $6.00/each.

All in all, I will never go back to the expensive, bulky binders that take hours to stuff.

Pioneering this new method of producing song books has been a learning curve, but the results are so overwhelmingly positive, I suspect this will become the wave of the future for all Karaoke operators.

If you want to purchase a book to preview and see how it's done, you can go to It will take a minute for the image to load, so please wait for it. You can also preview a portion of the book from this page.

- Alan Ross

Alan Ross

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Last edited by alanross; October 27th, 2008 at 06:16 AM.