26.1 INSIGHTS INTO PUBLISHING CONTEMPORARY CARIBBEAN ARCHITECTURE
Probably the most insightful discovery for me in publishing Contemporary Caribbean Architecture is the importance of planning every stage from inception to publication. Developing a plan in detail over five years is an enormously complicated activity but is critical for success. But plans can go awry, so equally important is the need to face unforeseen challenges when they emerge and to revise plans as needed.
It all began with a global plan setting targets for each week, month and year. 1991 was the year for planning preparing the forms for agreements, contacting architects throughout the Caribbean, sorting out the logistics of how the project would be achieved. Photography took place over the following three years beginning in 1992 with the Windward Islands, followed by the Leeward Islands and finally Greater Antilles in 1994. 1995 was devoted to publishing the book and exhibition.
My first eye-opener challenge was facing the fact that the world of publishing is run by publishers. They have their plans and their agendas and if your project does not fit with their strategy then you have to find ways and means of financing the publication. In my case much of the upfront costs, that were substantial, involved the cost of travelling in the Caribbean. Travelling in the Caribbean with expensive camera equipment is neither easy nor practical. Fortunately I managed to get together with some friends and we travelled by boat in two separate tranches as far as Anguilla. I am eternally grateful for their support, humour and patience with me!
One of the challenges I experienced is dealing with architects: many of who do not seem to understand nor appreciate the value of having their work published. I contacted the various architectural associations throughout the islands for their support, but in most cases this was ineffective. I therefore resorted to approaching architects directly but the entire process of getting permission to photograph the buildings was complicated and tedious.
Okay so after four years of work I now have all the images for the book but printing a high quality book of this kind can be a financial challenge. I decided not to compromise the book quality so this meant I needed to seek financial assistance.
One idea that was helpful was to promote pre-ordering of the book at a discount on my website. This helped me to get an idea of the demand for the book and how many books to print.
The second idea was to seek sponsorship. This meant I had to develop a sponsorship flier and commission an sales agent to approach prospective sponsors. Thankfully we managed to raise significant sponsorship that allowed us to commit to printing 400 books.
The final challenge was how to sell the books. The design and printing cost of the book [alone] was in the region of $1,000 a book for 400 books but I felt that a price point of $600 was the limit. The shortfall between the actual cost and the sale cost plus exhibition had to be borne by raising sponsorship.
Traditionally books shops charge between 25-40 percent on sales and that would have made the finances of publication completely insolvent. I therefore decided that holding an exhibition for a month immediately before Christmas would provide a good marketing idea for the book and my architectural firm. Fortunately the firm had the resources to help put together the exhibition but I also engaged assistants to help coordinate the event. Media coverage of the book launch and event was another key factor for the success of the project.
- Design: Melanie Archer
- Printing: Scrip-J Printers
- Photography: Brian Lewis
- Articles: Mark Lyndersay, Mark Raymond, Jenifer Smith and Brian Lewis
- Assistants: Gerry Lewis, Jonathan Gregory, Brien de Gannes, Kevin Kenny and Philip Farfan
- Sponsorship Sales Assistants: Catherine de Silva, Louise Fleury and Paige Herrera
- Event Planning: Laura Darwent and Louise Fleury
- Exhibition Design & Content: Laura Narayansingh, Brett Lewis, Signpost and Art Studio 3D Create
- Media Consultant: Magella Moreau
- Platinum Sponsor: Republic Bank
- Gold Sponsor: Unicom
- Silver Sponsors: Scrip-J, Kee-Chanona, Total Office and Abel Building Solutions,
- Bronze Sponsors: J. C. Aboud Holdings, V. K. Marketing Services, Ceramic Trinidad, Parts World, Home Solutions, Lightsource, Agostini Interiors, Luxury Finishes Design Center, CW Interiors, Flags-TC International, Charlette & Gatcliffe Insurance Brokers, The Italian Kitchen Company, Jimmy Aboud The Textile King and J&G Holdings.