The L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future annual print edition anthology changed format from mass market paperback black and white interior to trade paperback and color interior, meaning illustration winners and other color illustrations are now printed in full color. Suggested retail price also increased from $7.99 to $15.95. May 6, 2014, volume 30 release date. Page count declined from volume 29's 586 pages to 30's 400 pages.
This is as much a result of advancements in printing and bookmaking technology as a long-overdue enhancement. A new printing machine technology and savvy bookmakers now make possible a collation of color plates with monochrome black text pages.
These printer machines are similar to dye sublimation technologies used in laser printing. Publication files, usually in PDF high resolution formats, though Word, WordPerfect, InDesign, Quark, and CorelDraw publishing software file formats are supported as well, go directly from digital file to print without any intervening and costly pre-press operations, like darkroom camera work, layout makeready, and plate making for offset lithograph printing.
Short or long quantity production, fast turnaround time, economies of scale, and appreciably more efficient operation, as well as less space needed in a bookmaking print and binding shop, these are benefits from the technology.
I also assume the anthology production run count remains about the same as before, around 50,000 print copies. Plus, of course, recently, now Kindle editions. However, reprint runs are far more economical with this technology, akin to Print on Demand and Print Quantity Needed but appreciably less costly due to economies of scale. I've worked with bookmaker printers and binders similar to what I assume Galaxy Press, publisher of the anthology, their bookmaker uses. A comparable production run cost $5.00 per delivered, bound copy.
I've heard the stories are shorter this year. I already have the eBook, but I haven't started reading it yet.
Seems like they're experimenting with the eBook pricing. This years price is $7.99. Last years is $3.82 and the year before that is $5.49. If I'm not mistaken I picked up last years for $2.99 about two months after the release. The price had been dropping since the release and apparently it went back up (maybe just for the release of the new volume.)
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The $7.99 price is roughly half the suggested print price, same with the $3.82. Any price that ends in .99 is a ploy calculated to persuade. One penny less than the next full dollar amount intends to seduce buyers from the perception of cheaper pricing. But only a penny. I'm not fooled. Non-round numbers annoy me. I'd like to see sellers appreciate that they just follow the ravenous mongrel pack and that $0.25 increments signal more conscientious and mature pricing.
I've sold merchandise through online sites. I priced by $0.25 increments, Non-buyers just had to comment that that wasn't practical, that no one priced that way, though, of course, it is practical and carefully considered as at least different and standout from the mongrel pack. Buyers noted that my pricing practices were respectful and cause for confidence. Go figure.
Why the WotF winners' stories are shorter this year I don't know, maybe because of the winnowing process, judges settled on shorter stories over longer ones. The published finalist's is said to be the longest of the thirteen new content stories. There's also more added content articles, one by Orson Scott Card, judge and Golden Pen award presenter, as well as the usual L. Ron Hubbard content, and editors, publisher, and judge commentaries. Volume 30 looks to me to be more diverse multimedia content than before.
I also think the contests have gotten generally better organized, better staffed, and more modernized overall.