Two Vari-Dot Notebooks, $602.21. (Just $301.10 each!)

There’s dirty clothes on my bathroom floor. It’s Tuesday and the cupboards are bare having been over a week since I’ve done any grocery shopping. I have dating profiles on half a dozen sites getting zero hits and there are expensive pieces of maple and walnut in the garage waiting for me to turn them into a guitar. To add further insult to injury, in the span of five months I have spent $602.21 to create two Vari-Dot notebooks.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the failures, but the truth is that those two notebooks represent some success and maybe even hope for the future.

Nine book blocks sewed and glued for 5 x 7 inch books, unlikely to be used.

Nine book blocks sewed and glued for 5 x 7 inch books, unlikely to be used.

Vari-Dot Notebooks: A Process

Last week I started to document the process of developing and marketing Vari-Dot Notebooks from the first time I talked about it. I’m keeping track of every post, crumpled up failure, and dollar spent. You can read all about it here in Vari-Dot Notebooks: Transparent Crowdfunding.

It’s wordy. There’s a lot to digest there. The details are going to be mostly useful to other people looking to use crowdfunding to get their idea off the ground or other notebooks makers.

The eventual goal is to run a small crowdfunding campaign for three sizes of notebooks: 3×4, 6×8, and 9×12. Each book maintains a 3:4 ratio so that the thumbnails done on the mini size while you’re sitting on the train can later be scaled up easily to the full size 9×12 version. There are two main goals of the campaign: Fund the purchase of a professional printer for the studio and determine which of these three sizes is most popular.

There are some missteps along the way, but also successes. After sewing and gluing nine book blocks for a 5 x 7 inch book, I decided that was not the size I wanted to pursue. However, the skills I learned during the making of those books has made the new 6 x 8 inch prototypes that much better.

Various Vari-Dot Notebooks

Clockwise from top: Uncut/uncovered notebook, finished notebook and bookmark, another finished book, a covered book yet to be cut.

After I have enough of all the sizes made, I hope to send out notebooks to stationery addicts and get some honest feedback. Maybe their feedback will be negative and send me back to the drawing board.

The documentation has also been a learning process for me. If you had asked me just yesterday how much I thought I had spent on this project so far I would have guessed about $300. Maybe $350. The paper cutter was one of the bigger expenses at $149. The refillable ink cartridges were less than half that at $72. However, it’s all the little $6 trips to Lowes and the UPS Store that really start to add up over time.

Difficulties photographing Vari-Dot Notebooks

Photographing the actual Vari-Dot Notebooks has been challenging. In this case the center dot does even appear visible. It’s there. I promise.

I could go on with some of the highlights, but if you’re really interested I say dig into¬†Vari-Dot Notebooks: Transparent Crowdfunding.¬†In the meantime, I’m going to get back to making those notebooks and improving my lighting. Every book I make brings that cost per book down.

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