Soon after, another realization hit me: I still had no idea how to ship these things. I used to run the mailroom at Bakka Books, the SF store in Toronto, and I got very good at improvising cardboard book mailers out of scrap boxes. But I really wanted something less labor-intensive. I'd planned on using a 4mm cardboard book box, similar to the ones used by Amazon for single-book mailings. I'd then pad the book inside. I'm charging $275 apiece, so I figure I better make sure the books arrive intact! I was just about to order some bubble-wrap sleeves when my eyes lit on a small stack of burlap coffee sacks on one of my storeroom shelves.With a Little Twitter Help
I love coffee sacks. The burlap is soft but scratchy, tactile, and it smells great--coffee and sisal. I thought, if I got a book wrapped in this, I'd love it. So I cut up a sack and tried tying a book in a couple of configurations. I snapped some pix, put them on Flickr, and tweeted: would you be delighted to get a book wrapped like this, or put off? The chorus of "delighted" was unanimous. So much for less labor intensive--but as an "Internet guy" I must say I'm finding all this physical stuff almost indecently pleasurable. It's like being back in arts and crafts class.
My Twitter followers also pointed out that I'd need a layer of acid-free paper between the books and the burlap to prevent scratching, and several sent in the URLs for Web sites devoted to Japanese fabric wrapping. A few hours later, I got a tweet from the legendary Square Mile coffee roasters here in London. They have more coffee sacks than they know what to do with; could I come and take some, please? Another Twitter follower recommended a cheap cardboard mailer supplier called Zetland. I bought 30 boxes of mailers for £23.80.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.