The Man is Bound & Gagged! -- Interview with Bob Sanders: Mundania Press LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio.
edited: Thursday, May 13, 2004
By Pamela Faye
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2004
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Bob Sanders, CEO of Mundania Press, Cincinnati, Ohio talks with the Arts Editor Pamela Faye, about the dramatic changes occurring within the Publishing Industry, as modern technology sweeps into the 21st Century.
Hello Bob: Mundania Press is a Small Print Publisher offering "Extraordinary Books By Talented Authors", through trade paperback, hard cover, and digital formats for E-Book downloads. This "motto" delivers the highest quality print publication through Ingram's US & UK Distribution, to name just one of your major distribution outlets. How long has Mundania Press been gracing bookshelves with this exceptional quality of timeless tales Bob?
Bob: Mundania Press was formed in Aug 2002. Dan Reitz and I started the company to originally reprint one of the well-known author, Piers Anthony's out-of-print books, "Pornucopia". We had so much fun we didn't want to stop publishing. We sat down and organized a business plan, decided what type of material we wanted to publish, how we were going to publish it, and we were off. We've since grown from that one title to over 14 currently in production. By December 2004 we will have an additional 23 titles in print, bringing our total to 37. A solid accomplishment.
Pamela: Yes it is Bob, and as a small publishing company Mundania Press is striding into the 21st Century, keeping pace with Modern Technology, and a more environmentally friendly means of publication. Can you enlighten readers about the sweeping changes now raking the Publishing Industry with the driving force of a storm?
Bob: Technology will always continue to revolutionize every phase of our lives. We moved from the candle to the electric light while the horse & buggy gave way to the automobile. Publishing is no different. I'm not saying that "E-Books"--Electronically Readable Material--will replace traditional books. However as competition in the marketplace continues to grow E-Books will fulfill a growing demand for this format.
This trend will continue and E-Books will gain more and more acceptance as standardization of electronic formats are realized. Mundania Press will proudly be on the forefront of this emerging market. There are many schools moving their educational material to an electronic format. As this new generation graduates you will find the issue of "traditional" versus "electronic" become diluted and it will be more along the lines of what format to purchase the book in hardcover, soft cover, or electronic.
Pamela: There is yet another side to Mundania Press, you also publish Exclusive Collectors' Editions of books, Bob. People around the world obviously still love to gather the compelling scent of print books to their hearts, even with the development of Electronic Publishing Industry. As a publisher, do you perceive print publication in future, taking a back seat with the continuing growth of the Electronic Publishing Industry?
Bob: Good question. I see a trend starting with E-Publishing, but I still don't see traditional publishing changing for the average reader. There are many desktop computers, however there are still a fair number of individuals that are not interested in technology.
At Mundania Press we strive to keep pace with our patrons, if they want to read exceptional quality work then we make it available in a format they are comfortable with. This means publishing Collectors' Editions on occasion. I don't see any format taking an overall advantage, I see it more of a choice. There are hardcover editions available even though soft covers are less expensive. That will continue, you will find soft cover and hardcover editions, but electronic editions will become more mainstream.
Pamela: What genre of books does Mundania Press publish, and are all your authors from America?
Bob: We publish quality works. That's the bottom line. We accept for publication less than 2% of all of our submissions. We span the spectrum from fantastic Comedy with Piers Anthony's "Pornucopia" and "The Magic Fart"; we publish Suspense, with Vicki M. Taylor's "Not Without Anna"; Historical fiction, with Pamela Faye's "Chétan", along with fantasy, such as Elaine Corvidae's "Wolfkin" and "The Crow Queen", and science fiction, such as Piers Anthony's "Macroscope".
Our authors are from all over the world, we expect that trend to grow. As Mundania Press expands its market, and its readers, we expect submissions to grow in proportion to both. There's unlimited potential in this world. Mundania will always give talented authors a venue to get their work to the people who want to read it.
Pamela: Mundania Press has close to fifty talented authors gathered into their folds, one being the best selling author world wide Piers Anthony. How many of Piers' stories has Mundania Press published, and what stories of Piers' do you have waiting in the wings for publication?
Bob: We are very fortunate to have Piers Anthony as one of our authors. Currently we have ten of Piers' works. Nine are books, while "Conversations With An Ogre" is a 90-minute interview available in VHS format. Of the nine books, four are exclusive to Mundania Press. Piers' new ChroMagic Series is a trilogy of: "Key to Havoc", "Key to Chroma", "Key to Destiny". Along with republishing Piers' adult themed "Pornucopia", we now have Piers sequel, "The Magic Fart". Mundania Press has also republished "Macroscope" and "Omnivore", and will be releasing "Orn" and "Ox" this fall, 2004.
Piers has long been a stanch advocate of small press, smoothing the way for authors at all levels. Piers Anthony's website www.hipiers.com contains great information on publishers and tips for authors. We expect our great relationship with Mr. Anthony to grow stronger and hope to continue to obtain more works.
Pamela: As a publisher you have recently won awards for your book cover artwork. Tell me about this Bob, who is your book cover designer? Do you have different designers to meet the needs of all genres of books Mundania Press print?
Bob: We are excited to have two of our covers win the QUASAR Best-in-Category at the 2004 EPPIES this year. The first is Piers Anthony's "Macroscope", winning best science fiction. The cover was created by the late (and great) Ariana Overton, with titling and layout by Stacy L. King. The other title was Jeff Strand's "Graverobbers Wanted (No Experience Necessary)" winning best horror. This cover was created by Darrell King. Mundania Press use a number of very talented cover artists, including Stacey L. King, Regina Brytowski, and Darrell King.
Our process is, once we sign a book and the title is assigned an editor, we then send the author a detailed questionnaire so we can capture the look and feel for the cover, which reflects the mood of the material. We get input from the editor, and then Dan Reitz works closely to bring the visions of the editor, author, and his own into focus. By working together we have produced a number of high quality covers, this is the key since it is the cover that really highlights our high production values.
Pamela: Mundania Press even has the prestige of one of its novels, from the "Glass House" trilogy by Max and Ariana Overton, being optioned to movie production by Profeta Pictures. This shows the quality of talented authors you have sign to contract Bob! How many of the Overton's books do you have in publication?
Bob: We currently have nine in total: the "Glass House" trilogy, co-authored by Max and Ariana Overton, which includes "Glass House", "A Glass Darkly", and "Looking Glass". By Ariana we have "The Devil is in the Details", "Trapdoor", "Tapestry". From Max we have "Lion of Scythia", "The Golden King", "and "Funeral in Babylon". All great titles. Ariana did the primary design for the covers of these books and we are just thrilled to be able to present them. Ariana Overton, who passed away in November 2003, was a very talented and prolific author and artist with over 200 covers to her credit.
Pamela: Mundania also publishes the "Wacky" comedy author Jeff Strand. You obviously have a delightful sense of humor... the man is bound and gagged on the Mundania Press website. Do you often resort to these tactics to keep your wayward authors in line?
Bob: It's funny you should mention that...pun intended. At the 2004 EPICon Jeff Strand ended up handcuffing me to the podium as I presented the EPPIE for the best Erotica for 2004. Mundania Press is very fortunate to have Jeff Strand. His offbeat sense of humor combined with his masterful horror style is quite a one-two punch if you're looking to laugh yourself to death.
But to be serious for a moment, I think that the way to get the best out of people is to be focused but never lose the ability to laugh. All things in life are easier when you can laugh. That's one of the factors that sets Mundania Press apart from other publishers, we have fun, and lots of it.
Pamela: And here the Arts Editor is being serious! The Publishing Industry is facing major changes through the development of modern technology Bob. How easy is it for small, or large publishers, to address these issues... to roll with the flow of sweeping changes so to speak?
Bob: Technology is just one part of the challenges that face small, or large publishers. Competition, distribution and production are just a few areas where technology can have a major impact.
With emerging technology more and more publishers are able to provide quality material. Distribution is impacted as it is all computerized, and with the advances in 'real-time' warehousing it's easier to get that book someone wants, as quickly as possible. Production is made easier by advances in computer technology and application. Mundania Press takes advantage of new technologies, and as these technologies are updated and advances are made we will continue to be as up to date as the most modern publisher.
Pamela: World Wide, the swift delivery of data information to Book Store Buyers and Distribution outlets is a simple click through computer systems to major book buying outlets. What do you foresee happening with distribution of books in future Bob? Is it possible there will only be one or two major book distribution outlets, such as Ingram's US & UK International, or Baker & Taylor, firmly establishing distribution outlets in all countries to cater to the new technology of Print-On-Demand publication?
Bob: It's the way of Capitalism, if there is a demand there will be a company that will try to fulfill that demand as cost effective as possible. That may mean companies will merge and ultimately there will be one source to provide those books to the world.
However I feel that the structure may move to compartmentalize. Pockets of suppliers closest to the demand will find the way to best deliver the books to the markets they serve. They may all buy from on source, or a series of sources, but I don't foresee one supplier for all locations. E-Books will continue to carve a place in this industry and supply material to those who want it, as far as the internet can reach.
Pamela: Mundania Press also offers E-Book downloads of their print publications, as most print publishers now do. Yet the Electronic Publishing Industry still struggles to deliver a universal handheld E-Book reader for customers to download E-Books too. I will ask the million-dollar question Bob: With modern technology delivering cell phones capable of holding data files, why is it that E-Book readers float aimlessly on the swift flowing currents of advancing technology?
Bob: Well Bill Gates determined early on that it is not the hardware it's the software that will drive the industry. Bill Gates was right, and because of that he offered a standard where none existed. To that end we have so many E-Book formats trying to serve so many customers.
I see it as a good thing to service all customers, however I think with a lack of a solid standard has hurt the acceptance of E-Books. A new customer who might not be technologically savvy between the computer to downloading the E-Book, then an E-Book reader, and then a format, well as you might imagine a solid reader might be overwhelmed.
In the past few years a move has been made to focus on libraries and schools in hopes to educate the customer or standardize the E-Book market. I feel that until there is a device that can order and receive an E-Book apart from another device, such as a PC, it will be slow going. I think the E-Book reader that will have the most impact will be one that shares more with a cell phone than a PC.
Pamela: What are your dreams for Mundania Press in the future Bob, now that modern technology sweeps through the entire Publishing Industry to bring about the most exciting changes since the invention of the first printing press by Johann Gutenberg in 1450?
Bob: We've covered most of this over the course of the industry interview. To sum it up I want to provide quality material to everyone who wants to read it. If that means an E-Book to someone in Canada, or a book to United Kingdom then that is where my focus is. I want to share my love for the printed word with the world. Technology will play an important part to be sure, however it can not make poor material acceptable.
Our editors, our artists, and our choices on material to accept will make Mundania Press stand out in a crowd, and that crowd will grow as technology grows. We will strive to stand out and be the choice of consumers as well as book buyers marketers, etc across the industry.
Pamela: It is always a delight to talk to you about the Publishing Industry, Bob. Your insight delivers clear perspective to this world wide industry that must embrace change. This story is as old as time itself. For Mundania Press, you have sown seeds that will deliver the beauty of sweet delicious fruits through timeless tales. Thank you, I am sure Mundania Press will harvest an abundance of success in the future.
Arts Editor & Marketer
8/30 Alexandra Parade
Ph/Fax: 61 7 5451 0558
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Mundania Press LLC