A quick note about Late Books

February 20th, 2012

Hey again UDON fans!

It looks like you all dug our little message about “out of print” books, and we’re glad. We always try to level with you about the realities of publishing great books, and that means sometimes we have to talk about the problems we encounter.

So that said, let’s talk about late books.

UDON has never been the most ‘timely’ of publishers, though we’ve always been one of the hardest working ones publishing and we’ve been here for 11 years! We’ve made great strides over the past couple of years, but still, lateness is a problem and it’s one that we take seriously. Recently things had slipped pretty badly with our scheduling, and so we wanted to take a second to explain why sometimes a book is late, and what we’re going to do about it. Out of respect for all parties we can’t talk about individual projects, but just general reasons why a project might miss its release date.

Why Books Are Late

Production: All books are not created equal, and sometimes when we allocate a certain amount of time to translate, do layout, or create a book, it ends up taking far longer than anticipated. Sometimes translating from Japanese is far more difficult than expected with lots of game-specific terminology that we have to get just right. Sometimes it takes one of the guys longer to draw an amazing splash page than they thought, but the results kick-ass! Sometimes a disk gets corrupted and we have to wait a little while for a replacement. We’ve been in the business for 10 years, butevery single month something crazy will come out of the woodwork to surprise us—that’s what makes publishing these great books so interesting!

Approvals: The various companies that we work with want these books to be as awesome as we do, and so sometimes it takes a little longer to go over the finer points so that everyone’s happy with the final product.

Printing/Shipping/Customs: We print our art books overseas—it’s what lets us bring you printing quality as good as the Japanese editions of the same book, and for a reasonable price. But that means that printing, shipping, and clearing customs can take a really long time. Again, we try to compensate for all of these factors we solicit the books and say they’re gonna be out, but a delay at customs, a delay in shipping, a delay in printing, all of those are out of our hands and we’ve recently had some pretty bad luck on that front.

We Have To Solicit Up To Six Months In Advance: Everything can be going along great in November, and so we tell our distribution partners to expect a book in May, and then the next week everything goes nuts! Once a solicitation is out there it’s pretty tough to take it back for a bunch of reasons, and so instead we try to adjust the shipping dates to be as accurate as possible. Some projects… take more adjustments than others.

Quality: This is the biggest one, and it’s reflected in all of the other things that cause a delay. We feel that we release some of the best licensed books in English, and all of our feedback from you guys suggests you feel the same way. We care about making the books great, about translating every bit of text, about trying to make our editions as awesome as the originals. We want our art to be cool, our translations to be accurate, and we want you guys to be happy… and sometimes, honestly, that means that delaying the books to make them better.

What does all of this add up to? Well, some pretty understandable frustration on your part. We’re a crew of folks working every day to make these books their best, but even that doesn’t count for much when you’ve got a preorder in with your favourite store and you see the dates pushed back… AGAIN. It sucks for you, it SUCKS for us, and we’re going to try and fix it.

Here’s What We’re Going To Do

We have come to the decision that we should hold off soliciting books until they’re ready to print. This means that when a book shows up in the Diamond catalog, it will be finished production, approved, and at the printers.

We’re not going to announce things until production has already begun. This means there will be a much shorter wait between project announcements and when our books are on store shelves. Not TOO short of course, we still want you guys super-excited for what we’re working on…!

We’re going to keep a list of our solicited projects on our website, up to date. It can sometimes take weeks or months for our release date changes to make their way across all of our distribution partners. We’re going to make the UDON Blog the most accurate source for upcoming release dates.

We’re going to take a few months off soliciting books to catch up. All of these plans are going into effect starting this summer, and as of right now we’re going to take a few months off of soliciting projects until we’re caught up on our current slate. There are still going to be UDON books hitting stores everywhere regularly for the next six months, but those will be our already announced projects… and if you do see new projects announced for July or August, you can be sure that we’re ready to publish them.

This won’t completely eliminate lateness—as I mentioned there are still shipping problems, customs problems, and who-knows-what-else that we haven’t considered yet. But we feel it’s the best way to get you the books that you love, and to make sure you all stay UDON fans.

THANKS FOR BEING AN UDON FAN!

Sincerely,

The Staff of UDON