Author Topic: Pagoda Style, wrap-up  (Read 16250 times)

Peter van Es

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Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« on: October 12, 2012, 09:42:24 »
Yesterday I received a letter in the mail (you know, of the dead-tree variety) with a check enclosed. Michael Salemi, who has put many, many hours of his own time into producing the Pagoda Style book, has printed, and successfully sold enough copies such that the original founding/funding members now get their money back, plus interest.

Essentially all of us original contributors received our two magnificent books for free.

Michael, I have some idea of how much time you've spent in producing the book... collecting and improving photographs, chasing contributors for texts and approvals, dealing with masses of data. I have no idea how much of your own money you spent on improving your computing equipment, additional hard drives, a high quality monitor, colour calibration equipment, ink cartridges for proof printing etc. I can only guess at the amount of hassle in selling the books, logistics, shipping, packing, invoicing etc.

Given the success, I suggest you do another print run (250 copies?) and this time keep the proceeds yourself. There seems to be sufficient demand!

Thanks for a contribution over and above the call of duty.

Peter van Es
1970 280SL. System Admin of the site. Please do not mail or PM me questions on Pagoda's... I'm not likely to know the answer.  Please post on the forum instead!

ghenne

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 10:07:03 »
Good suggestion!

PS. Check out the Paul Braq print he has available!

JamesL

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 10:21:50 »
I know better than to argue with Peter. Good idea
James L
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mdsalemi

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 12:10:49 »
A reprint of the book is much easier said than done.  Another print run, be it 200 or 500, would probably start at about USD $10,000.

I should note that I could have saved a bit of money, or increased the print run, or both in the past, and in the future, had I chosen to have the book printed in China.  While this unto itself may be worth some insightful discussion, as a veteran of the printing industry, I'd contribute some thoughtful commentary on the subject.  I'd also conclude with, "Over my dead body."

There are two problems here: first, I don't have $10,000 laying around.  Second, the easy sales have already been made.  Incremental sales from today forward, would come at a steep marketing cost that I did not have when the book was released.  With the book mentioned on about every website serving the community, on eBays all over the world, Amazon, etc. you'd have to be living under a rock or just not paying attention to the "Pagoda World" (sorry to borrow the term here) not to know about it.  Those who know about it but didn't buy it, made a conscious effort to do so.

I'd have to sell nearly half the print run to break even.  Then, and only then, would any profits begin to flow.  If you think the first hundred copies would be difficult to sell from a new print run, the second hundred would probably be exceedingly hard to sell.

I said the easy sales have been made.  In February of 2012, for example, I sold and shipped over 40 books.  In July, that dropped to about 9 books.  In August, only one order came in.  While 2 came in September, I was down to about a dozen books left and cut it off.  That's when I started crafting the final letter and refund to the contributors.

Further marketing of another print run would be expensive--advertising is VERY expensive.  I leveraged and utilized all I could to promote the book initially, and was reasonably but not completely successful.  Comp and review copies sent to people like John Olson, The Star Magazine, and Roy Spencer led to reviews appearing in their publications.  Roy's review was particularly good, as he, after really looking at the book, "got it" in terms of concept (not that it is "high art" or anything, but some don't get it...) and said so; literally seconds after he reviewed the book and blasted the review out in his monthly newsletter, MercedesHeritage, the orders started pouring in.  I think I got his email at 2:00 one afternoon, and by 2:05 orders were coming in.

Comp copies, with the guise of promoting the sl113.org group were also sent to personnel at DBAG and MBUSA.  While MBUSA liked the book, that was it--with a thank you.  DBAG, however, wanted to sell them, and overall bought 75 copies wholesale to sell in their museum gift shop.  So, some books sent to Germany with project funds yielded a sale of 75 copies.  Not too bad.

On the other hand, a comp copy sent to editor Lizzie Pope of Mercedes Enthusiast was "acknowledged" but not even a thank you, and certainly no mention of the book.  Another sent to editor David LaChance of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Cars yielded a promised review in the June 2012 issue, but that never happened, and he never responded to further inquiries.  Further puzzling with Mr. LaChance is that in the most recent issue of Hemmings, he specifically mentions the upcoming anniversary of the Pagoda, and asked for specific stories about owner's experiences...jeez, he has 66 of them on his desk!  Has he forgotten?  I guess so.  Hey, not everything works the way we like, but both of these publications do indeed review books each month.

There were, as you might imagine, some comp books sent out to other media outlets that were never acknowledged and never reviewed.  Their loss.

With a limited edition of 500 copies, sold out in 9 months, I have little complaining to do!  There is one last quandary, perhaps a moral or ethical issue.  All of the promotion, be it to the original contributors to coax them out of $190 and their stories and photos, or potential buyers of $75, suggested a limited edition of 500 copies.  So, after the fact, we print more?  Perhaps this is a moot point; perhaps we could circumvent the quandary by making a second book varied enough from the first, but some people paid $75 for the book with the idea of it being a limited edition.  Some might be annoyed if more were printed.  Just a thought, but one that stares you in the face if you open the book and read "Limited Edition"...in the world of collectors cars we are in, and in the world of art, it is the number of copies of something that most often is a dictate of value.  That's why the 300SL is more valuable than a 190SL which is generally more valuable than a Pagoda...  It is also why the original oil painting on the front cover of Pagoda Style sold for USD $4,500.00 and the giclee editions are somewhat less.  If the "editions" were printed on paper by offset and unsigned, they'd be called "posters" and sell for $10.  The more exclusive, the more the value.  Holds true for cars, books and art.

Perhaps there will be another book of some kind in the future.  Now, I'm just working with Paul Bracq on the prints as George mentioned.  I was astounded that the original sold quickly (and Mr. Bracq was quite happy) and astute collectors have been ordering the giclee editions.

Very often we neglect the journey with our eyes focused on the destination.  "Are we there yet?"  Well, in this case it was all about the journey--not the destination.  As one contributor told me in a personal thank you note received today by good old fashioned handwriting on a card, sent by snail mail (we call it old school!), the end is a little bittersweet.  But the journey, and scenery along the way was terrific! ;)
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 19:53:29 by mdsalemi »
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
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JamesL

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2012, 12:18:07 »
You're even tougher to argue with than Peter! You know the economics better than the rest of us - and argue them eloquently above! So all we can do at this point is thank you once more!!
James L
Oct69 RHD 280 in DB906 with cognac leather

Peter van Es

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2012, 12:36:11 »
Michael, you've clearly thought it through much better than I did... Again, thanks!
1970 280SL. System Admin of the site. Please do not mail or PM me questions on Pagoda's... I'm not likely to know the answer.  Please post on the forum instead!

thelews

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2012, 13:28:44 »
I can support Michael's analysis with real experience based on the sales of 190 SL club books.
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
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1961 190 SL 23K miles
1964 Porsche 356
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zoegrlh

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2012, 00:24:58 »
Michael,
You hit it on the head.  Well said, limited edition.  You are a cherished member of our club and did a really great job to but this book to print.  Hey, they can now see me with my SL at the Mercedes-Benz Museum book store.  Yes, maybe someday you can do a volume two, with and for those members that did not make volume one and any new members that now would like their SLs in print, as we did.
Bob
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hauser

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2012, 02:07:04 »
Michael, Thank you!

pagoden

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2012, 07:25:42 »

Kudos, Michael!


1968/69 280SL, just+100k mi, manual 4, 3.46, both tops, 717/904

douglas dees

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2012, 22:05:44 »
Michael: Again a great job and thank you for all your hard work. The contributors believed in you and you did not let us down but you went beyond our expectations. The awards were just icing on the cake.
Doug Dees

gerster

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2013, 09:55:39 »
I ordered the book on the Mercedes Benz Classic site today. Can't wait to see it.

Greetings:Ger.

mdsalemi

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2013, 14:33:56 »
I ordered the book on the Mercedes Benz Classic site today. Can't wait to see it.

Ger, on behalf of the more than 70 people involved in this project, thank you.  Let us know what you think when you receive it.  "Classic" bought out remaining inventory last year and is not selling it at much of a premium--in fact I'd call it more of a service than anything else.  I don't know how many remain but do know there were plenty of people on the fence, deciding whether or not they should buy the book or not (making it a long decision process) and in the final analysis I had to refer them to the only remaining source.

While no reprints are warranted, and no 2nd edition on the planning horizon, I am working with the printer on offering an eBook version, sort of.  It would be formatted for use on an iPad.  This differs markedly from a typical text-only eBook such as those for use on a B&W reader such as a Kindle, or similar.  Those who have the book or have seen the book know it wouldn't translate very well to a phone-sized unit; to B&W, and similar.  This is a non-trivial task and I'm waiting to hear back from them.
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
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gerster

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2013, 23:20:11 »
I'll sure let you know Michael!

Greetings: Ger.

gerster

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2013, 14:56:18 »
Received the book today and will call it magnificent.
Of course I didn't read it yet but from what I've seen yet I can only say what a magnificent book!

You can be proud of it Michael!



Greetings: Ger.

mdsalemi

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2013, 15:03:01 »
Ger--

Thank you for the compliments--

Just as important I'm happy to hear that the mail-order process is working well from Classic in Germany.  I've pointed quite a few people there and yours is the only report back.  Of course, I would expect nothing less than the best from them, but your experience is confirmation that the process works.
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid

mdsalemi

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2013, 16:30:37 »
Received the book today...

Ger, I had another inquiry today, and sent our friend FinnBrian to the Classic Center website.  Alas, it is now showing up as "unavailable".  They must be sold out...consider yourself lucky, I guess!
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid

Flyair

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2013, 18:53:56 »
They must be sold out...consider yourself lucky, I guess!

Michael

we all do... :)
Stan
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Brian in NL

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2013, 20:01:19 »
Coincidentally, before I saw Michael's note, I also checked the Classic site and it's not there.  I did find one on an Italian new-and-used bookseller, and placed an order, but it's not clear if they actually have one in stock. I'll let you know if I ever get it. In the meantime, Ger, you apparently got one of the last ones!

BTW, I changed my name on here since I no longer live in Finland!

Brian
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gerster

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2013, 20:36:54 »
Ger--

Thank you for the compliments--

Just as important I'm happy to hear that the mail-order process is working well from Classic in Germany.  I've pointed quite a few people there and yours is the only report back.  Of course, I would expect nothing less than the best from them, but your experience is confirmation that the process works.


Hallo Michael the process worked indeed I could pay with Paypal and received the book via UPS in a couple of days.
Ofcourse I didn't know that it is sold out now so I'm lucky to get one of the last examples.

I have read a couple of pages now and like to read the stories of the owners and their backgrounds.  Now I know alot more of the people here and
how it happened that they fell in love with their Pagoda.
I was always a Mercedes Benz fan and collect brochures for more than 30 years now and decided last year to buy an old model (Ponton) but when I came
at a classic car dealer here in the neighbourhood I saw also a Pagoda and I immediately fell in 'love' with it.
It was double the price of a Ponton but I couldnt resist it and buyed it, not knowing how much money it would cost me to get it in the right
condition so I can really enjoy this beauty.  I'm not there yet but know I will manage.


Greetings: Ger.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 08:18:50 by gerster »

pj

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2013, 07:43:16 »
I was one of the guys who took a chance and didn't order a "Pagoda Style" when it was available. I had hoped to pick one up in person at some event and save myself the hassle of ordering and shipping. Okay, so I missed out. And I checked the Classic Centre's online shop just now and the book is no longer on their list.

Michael was kind enough to let Dianne and me browse slowly through the book at this past weekend's Concours of America event. So at least I can say I have seen the book in detail. Yes it is magnificent! Those awards you won are well-deserved. Thanks so much to Michael and all the contributors. Terrific work.
Peter J
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Rolf-Dieter ✝︎

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2013, 16:10:21 »
Hello Ger.

Did you order the book from the German or US site? Please let me know I like to order one.

PJ ... If I am successful of ordering one I would not mind ordering one for you as well, it would save you the hassle and shipping charges. Let me know.
DD 2011 SL 63 AMG and my 69 Pagoda 280 SL

gerster

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2013, 20:07:44 »
I ordered the book in Germany Rolf-Dieter but the other day it was not on there Site anymore so I think I get the last one but you can Always try.  Good luck!

Greetings: Ger.

mdsalemi

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2013, 20:13:31 »
It was never on the US site, only on the German site.  They are gone--trust me on this!
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
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Rolf-Dieter ✝︎

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2013, 23:08:18 »
Michael ... will there be a re-print of the book sometime in the future?
DD 2011 SL 63 AMG and my 69 Pagoda 280 SL

mdsalemi

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2013, 23:48:28 »
Michael ... will there be a re-print of the book sometime in the future?

No reprint, but a digital version coming in the fall.

Also considering doing another, newer version...not committing to it, but sure thinking about it...have to get a new "angle" on the subject.
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2023 Ford Maverick Lariat Hybrid "Area 51"
2022 Ford Escape Hybrid
2023 Ford Escape Hybrid

Kemal

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2013, 10:56:33 »
No reprint, but a digital version coming in the fall.

Also considering doing another, newer version...not committing to it, but sure thinking about it...have to get a new "angle" on the subject.

50 Year Anniversary Edition!
Just a thought .

Regards,
Kemal
280SL
Manual LHD69

Rolf-Dieter ✝︎

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Re: Pagoda Style, wrap-up
« Reply #27 on: August 03, 2013, 12:44:52 »
Hi Kemal ... I second that ... good thought!

Dedicating the reprint to "A 50 Year Anniversary Edition" (new cover design for the book) will be a hit for the book all over the world until the 75th Anniversary anyway :)
DD 2011 SL 63 AMG and my 69 Pagoda 280 SL