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Tuesday, July 21

another new widget

With much of my new "stuff", the ideas come from customers and they germinate for weeks or years or moments, eventually resulting in a "eureka!"

Last year a kindly gentleman told me that if I did something with a reference to grandchildren, I'd sell them all. I had been avoiding specific quotes on my frames and cards, believing broad appeal to be better than targeting.

Dumb. I know. I know.

I found a quote that I loved ("Grandchildren fill a space in your heart you never knew was empty") and put it on cards, frames and my collage easels. He was right. Sold 'em all. Now I have things about children and parents, too. Sell 'em all.

A couple of years ago, a customer asked me if I had any smaller journals. I was only making the 9X7 then, a size that had been dictated by the dimensions of my mould and deckle as I was making my own paper at the time. I eventually moved on to using available papers so I could focus on the things I wanted to make, but old habits die hard, I guess. I researched the sizes other book binders made and found that 5X7 was really popular. I started making that size. Unlined pages, but they still have a quote on the flyleaf and the binding is embellished, just simpler. They are $5 cheaper than my least expensive large journal. I sell 'em all. I think it impacts on my sales of the larger books, but that frees me up to be more artful on the bigger books sometimes. So that is a good thing.

Then customers started asking for even smaller books. Books that could travel, that could be stuffed in a purse or pocket. I pondered it.

Then I started thinking about the young girls who lovelovelove my books. They pick them up and stroke the covers and fan the pages and cradle them in the crook of their arm while asking "Please, Mom?" Some parents "get" that encouraging their kids to write is worth $20. Some say "Oh, you'll never write in it" and walk out leaving the kid to put the book back and give up. Sometimes the child pulls out their money and starts to count out wrinkled bills and quarters which is when I have been known to put the book in a bag and ask the child to accept it as a gift from me, the only condition being that she promises to write every day, (Old English teachers never die, they just get more annoying) Russell does it, too. I'll come back into the booth and he'll say, "Now, don't get mad but..."

Little books would be great for little girls.

When I get my paper cut for the inside pages, I always tell them I want the waste. I knew I would find a use for it, if only to make pulp for castings. Often the waste is 4" square. Eureka!

I call them "Pocket Books", they are a petite 4 1/2" square with a stab binding and a simple embellishment at the tie. No lines, no fly leaf, just a simple book for travelers and little girls. They would be great as "gratitude" journals, too.

Russell thinks they will impact sales of the small journals. I'll have to observe that. And I have to figure out pricing. They are still, after all, handbound books, one-of-a-kind.

And, of course, they'll be cheaper to give away. ;)

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