As you may have seen from the comments section and pictures on Twitter, some people are already receiving their books. This feels great to have the finished book out there but I do want to temper expectations that there are still a lot more books to ship. Given the travel times, it could be a while before you receive yours in the mail. My gratitude to everyone who backed this project and waited patiently. The end is near!
I will write a bit more about shipping for those who are interested in behind-the-scenes information, but first...
Another Kickstarter has launched celebrating the music of legendary video game composer Rob Hubbard. If you know that name there is no need to say anything more; for those unfamiliar, the man is a musical genius. The Kickstarter project will take some of his most popular hits and rework them using more traditional instruments. Plus, there is a video game and some great swag. Check out Project Hubbard!
A Mess of Data
Ever notice that sometimes people use the word humbled in a strange way? Like when they are given an award or have reached a new career pinnacle they say they are humbled. That's not how I understand the word. Humbled is when life shows you you aren’t Mr. awesome super great guy. Well, this month I’ve been humbled.
My estimate/goal for shipping was to take two weeks and ship everything out by mid-October. And now here we are and, despite working non-stop with other people, there are still more books to ship. Like a lot of things in life, it gets easier once you’ve done it once. Next time I will have all the tools, contacts, and knowledge to do it a lot faster--probably half the time.
But even more interesting is what the data reveals about all of you, the backers!
I have always been curious which countries my book was popular in because it also sheds light on the countries where Commodore was popular. And the results are mostly on par with anecdotal evidence we’ve all heard through the years but also pretty surprising in some cases.
The country with the most orders is the United States, unsurprising given the huge population. Also, the lower shipping rates probably helped spur more US orders. Not far behind are orders from the UK. This fits with what Commodore UK's marketing manage David Pleasance indicated in interviews.
As expected, Germany comes in 3rd place but it was a surprisingly close race with Australia, a comparatively small population, coming in fourth. This is probably attributable to the book being in English.
And not far behind is Sweden! I shouldn’t have been surprised by Sweden punching above its weight so much given the high English literacy there. When you add together all the Nordic countries, they handily beat out Germany. Sweden is mind blowing! Almost same population as Switzerland but 10x more sales.
I can figure out why English speaking countries like Canada, UK, Australia do better but other parts of the world are a mystery. Why did Sweden outpace others such as Switzerland? What are the factors that made Commodore such a hit in the Northern European countries? As a North American, these reasons are a mystery to me. If you have some insights, please leave your comments.
Once the data was sorted out, it was possible to start making lists of backers and print out shipping labels. From the start of this Kickstarter I have been dreading this stage, not because of the work, but because there were so many unknowns.
Getting to this stage took a little longer than I thought it would. Some of it had to do with getting the right type of printer to use with the Post Office for printing labels, setup, and then finding out I needed some pretty specialized supplies for the printer (a wax/resin roll of thermal transfer ribbon and rolls of 4" x 6" labels, for example).
Figuring out how to use the online mailing system was also a bit of a challenge, as was navigating the usual problems with unreliability of their systems (e.g. outages with "Stamps.com Connect", their method for allowing a thermal printer to work with the browser interface).
With these lists we could begin assembling the correct number of packages with the correct books and backer rewards. I called in some favors from friends, bought some fine imported beer, and soon had a chain gang ready for work. With 4 people per “shift” we figured out how to divide the tasks in an assembly-line packing style.
There have been 3.5 packing parties so far in the garage. The 0.5 is for small test run using Canadian books to learn how best to divide the jobs. It’s amazing how much work you can get done with some extra help. With 4 guys packing it took us about 7 hours (including a nice long lunch) for around 400 packages.
Thanks goes out to Rick, John, Chris, Wil, Axel and my brother Kevin for volunteering at least one tour of duty. We were operating like a well oiled machine and so far it has been a lot of fun. There’s something about doing physical work that helps everyone feel like an integral part of the team. Maybe it was the beer leading to lots of fun conversation while we toiled away. In the end, everyone said they would gladly come to another packing party. For the next Kickstarter, rather than dreading this stage, I will probably look forward to it. Probably.