Thursday, January 24, 2013


I have some customers I am quite grateful for. They love what I do at Thinkers' Press and The Chess Butler.

Recently I announced that my 13 year old printer, a hefty HP 4550 monster had shot its bolt. It whimpered and whined and occasionally pushed out come colorful pages near the end, but after a a service man showed, sent a bill for $85 for basically telling me--"It's gonna die"--it died.

Positive side: No more expensive toner cartridges (those I have 5 of them in my supplies' closet), no more fusers to replace, no more boxes of paper to buy.

Negative Side: I proofed my catalogs and sent out mailings with that behemoth. In fact, my repair guy said I went through at least 144,000 pages using it. Let's see, in a box of 10 reams, with 500 sheets per ream, that means 29 boxes and it sure seemed like more than that especially when carrying them from the store to the shop or to my office. Those "guys" are heavy and awkward. But the real negative side is that I have two books to proof, I have new customers to send flyers to and on a good day I can keep it humming while I am working on something else.

Then my friend Gary steps up today and asks me to charge his card a nice amount. Gary's been a customer for quite a long time (Thank you Gary). I won't give his whole name because there IS power in anonymity (because they know who they are and can smile at themselves) AND others who know him won't be hitting on him!

I have more than a few such generous customers--they help with THAT kind of heavy lifting! Thank you.

Back in the 80s when I ran my typesetting business I can remember working on my own on my machines (really big suckers) because at $100/hr I couldn't afford to have someone come in and do it for me. One repairman when called in to do something I couldn't handle  saw some work I did on a film compositing and imaging system and he asked "How long did it take you to fix this?" I replied, "4 hours." He was surprised because it usually took him 2 hours to adjust those timing lights and he had the tools for it. It's amazing what one can do because they have no choice.

In the year between 2000 and 2006 at various times my sons Nate and Rob helped me move more than 1600 cases of books to my basement warehouse and then later put them on pallets to reship to buyers, back up through the basement (we did have a conveyor belt), as far away as Australia and points in the USA. That meant moving 1600 boxes twice and they averaged about 45-50 pounds a box. We moved them from semis and we also moved them from various points in the country on to Ryder trucks.

That didn't count all the boxes which were packed and unpacked many times to sell at events (because we were constantly getting in new merchandise and collections).

Now I don't think I could take that anymore!

The new printer, which essentially is like the one I had but smaller, therefore lighter, will do the printing but it needs to be a Postscript color printer and the toners and other parts will be expensive all over again. It will allow me to put together and tweak those "nice" pieces which I do get compliments on from time to time.

Today, for example, I put together a "Welcome" sheet to new potential customers. I proofed it on a smaller HP, one of those ink jet jobs where the cartridges are insanely expensive and it is far too easy to go through them. For an ink jet it looked pretty good. The "problem was" to make it look nice I thought, stared, cajoled, and invented things to illustrate and write about until it looked just right--it took hours! It was just a pictorial listing of some of my current services. It made me tired.

I am more than willing to send a PDF of this sheet to anyone who asks, and particularly to those who haven't done business with me before. Just need your name and email address.

Thanks again Gary. That was wonderful.


PS: If you think I am asking for donations, you would not be correct. I will put together some special merchandise to sell at greatly reduced prices to help along the PRINTER FUND. On the other hand, if you do help, I won't turn you down. This business (chess), unlike the US Treasury's bill payment system, has many competitors… so any help would be appreciated though not necessary to continue my relationship with you.

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