The magic of writing allows thoughts to live for millenia
There is a company in Buenos Aires, Argentina that is meeting the needs of aspiring authors. Editorial Dunken is a one stop shop for authors which is able to provide high quality printing, distribution and sales of new books with production runs starting at 200 copies. All that an author need do is supply the text, and Dunken can design a cover, bind and print the copies, distribute them in bookstores, manage online sales, and otherwise promote the book. Dunken also makes available its people with many years’ worth of experience in the real world of publishing and distribution, which authors find to be enormously helpful in getting traction for a new book.
The History of Writing, from Pictures to Words
People spoke before they began to write, and it’s still a mystery when human beings began to express their language graphically. The oldest pictures known to have been created by human beings are cave paintings, some of which date back 40,000 years. But when did those pictures begin to have linguistic meaning? Maybe cave paintings told a story, maybe they didn’t. At some point, pictures began to be used as symbols for words and thoughts, but no one knows when.
The earliest examples found so far of written symbols that are known to represent language are the “counting tokens” used in the Fertile Crescent of the Tigris and Euphrates River Valleys. These tokens were inscribed with symbols that represented agricultural products, numbers and quantities, and were used to keep track of inventory and facilitate trade. Some of these are at least 9,000 years old. The tokens could be kept inside a clay “envelope” often sealed with other symbols, and were literally miniatures of the objects they represented. Presumably, a merchant who owned a clay envelope with a token representing “wheat” with the number “100” inscribed on it had a written record of ownership of 100 units of wheat.
About six thousand years ago, people began to impress these tokens in clay, or copy their form onto the clay with a sharp instrument. This was a huge advancement, since now the records could be easily copied and transported. Over time, these pictures became more stylized, and two or more pictures could be combined to represent abstract concepts. Even later, the pictures began to represent sounds, just as letters represent sounds in modern alphabets. Early writing systems tended to be a combination of pictures and syllabic or sound representations, but over time they became more abstract, and the connection between the picture and the symbol became more difficult to discern.
For thousands of years, the production of books was a labor intensive, time consuming process. Almost any surface could be used for writing, such as stone, leather, metal or bone, but books in Mesopotamia were clay tablets, and those books were heavy. Nonetheless, the Sumerians and others had rather extensive libraries of clay tablets containing poetry, laws, and business deals. At about the same time that the Sumerians were developing their cuneiform style of writing on clay tablets, the Egyptians were developing their system of pictographs. However, the Egyptians wrote primarily on papyrus when they weren't carving in stone. The subject matter of writing expanded from accounting, its first use, to cooking, epic stories, history, and everything else.
Papyrus and Parchment Replace Clay and Books become Portable
Papyrus was made from plants found in Egypt, and had the advantage of being much lighter and thus more portable than clay. Production of texts was quicker since ink takes less time to dry than mud. Papyrus texts were rolled into scrolls, and the Egyptians had their own libraries. Scrolls could be copied and carried to faraway lands, allowing the dissemination of knowledge to a degree that was unheard of before. However, papyrus had two disadvantages. First, it was delicate, and was easily damaged by humidity and fire. Second, the Egyptians had a near monopoly on papyrus production. The Greeks and the Romans wrote on papyrus, but they had to import a lot of it from Egypt.
The Romans developed a technique for sewing folded papyrus together and binding them between two pieces of wood. The result looked a lot like our modern books. Books made this way were easier to handle than scrolls, the paper was better protected, and finding a section within a long text was easier with numbered pages.
As the population became more literate and the demand for written materials grew, the use of parchment as a substitute for papyrus in places outside of Egypt became more common. Parchment is made from animal skins, and had already been in use for centuries. Parchment was more durable and could be found anywhere. Both sides of the parchment were suitable for writing, and one could erase by scraping the ink off the skin, something that was impossible with translucent, delicate papyrus. Paper finally reached Egypt from China by way of Arabia in the tenth century A.D., and papermaking began in Europe in the thirteenth century. Paper is more durable than papyrus and lighter than parchment. It eventually became the preferred writing medium in Europe.
For the first 9,000 years, more or less, all books were made by hand by scribes, and were rare and expensive. The introduction of paper and its mass production helped some, but it was the invention of moveable type that could be inserted into a press in order to make multiple copies that revolutionized the printing of books.
The Printing Press Changes Everything
The invention of the printing press with moveable type is considered by many to be one of the key events in modern civilization. The effects were immediate and astounding. The rapid and cheap dissemination of information made modern business and governmental institutions possible. Scholars and technicians from different countries could share information. The public became more literate, better informed, and more demanding of their governments. Local languages began to appear in print, causing the rapid decline of Latin. It would be no exaggeration to say that the printing press, more than any other single invention or event of the early modern era, set the stage for the industrial revolution, democracy, nationalism, and the rise of modern universities.
Today, the volume of written material is huge. Publishing is a big business, and the vast bulk of books are published by large companies. These companies invest large sums of money in presses, distribution channels, and advertising. Because of their high overhead costs, they rarely publish books by new or unestablished authors because of the risks involved.
What this means is that it is incredibly difficult for a new author to get a first book published unless he or she is willing to do it on their own. Large publishing houses often need to sell thousands of copies in order to make a profit in an increasingly crowded field of new offerings, whereas a new author may be able to get a career launched with a first run of a few hundred copies.
Individuals can now Publish their Own Books and let Dunken help Promote them
No one in Argentina produces as many self published books as Dunken, nor with as much success for its authors. With more than 600 titles per year, Dunken produces three and four times as many books as its nearest competitors.
Every year in April and May, the people of Buenos Aires and Argentina celebrate the International Book Fair. Since 2003, Dunken has had the largest presence at the fair, where space is made available so that authors can sign examples of their books. The Fair is advertised in all of the important media, and Dunken invests considerable resources to ensure that its authors enjoy the highest level of exposure possible at the most important literary event of the year. Plenty of journalists, professionals in the publishing business and booksellers attend the Fair, making it the most efficient means possible for getting the word out. All of this exposure is free to authors who have published a book with Dunken during the previous year.
During the rest of the year, authors may take advantage of the Dunken conference center, free of charge, where up to 100 people can meet. The facility is fully equipped with audio equipment, air conditioning, and other modern comforts and conveniences that one would expect. Staff is also available to help organize the event to make it as successful as possible. If an author would like to make a presentation in another venue, Dunken will be there to help also, with free printing of invitations and someone from the office who will accompany the author to the event. Dunken wants its authors to be successful, and they go the extra mile to help make that happen.
In addition to the above mentioned methods of publicity for new books, Dunken also publishes an ad in a major magazine or newspaper, sends a copy of the book to La Nación and Clarín, makes the book available to other journalists and book reviewers, displays the book at its offices, publishes a description on its website, emails more than 4000 media recipients a month, and offers group discounts for further advertising in major outlets. Quality promotion is key to increasing sales to their full potential.
Quality Sells Books
A book published by Dunken uses high quality materials for the most professional appearance possible. Paper is 90 g stock, sewn in 16 page sheets, not glued. Covers are printed in 300 g stock and finished in protective laminate. Four color printing allows photos and other complex designs on the cover, and Dunken’s graphic artists will help make the cover as effective as possible. And of course, dust jackets are also available so that an author can add biographical or other important information. Holding the book, the quality of the bookbinder’s art is obvious, from the cut of the pages, to the the square sturdiness of the spine, to the feel of the paper in the reader’s hand. The finished product is contemporary, high quality, long lasting, and in line with market expectations of booksellers and consumers.
An important service that any good publisher provides is editing. Editing consists of much more than correcting typographical errors, which are almost inevitable even in the most carefully written text. Editors also homogenize stylistic elements, and adjust spacing and margins. Dunken recommends, however, that every author hire a proofreader to look at the text with a fresh set of eyes and suggest changes that might improve the readability of the work.
First time authors who use Dunken are in good company. Dozens of state agencies, national organizations of professionals, academic institutions, editing companies, and well established authors use Dunken’s bookbinding, proofing and printing services to publish under their own names. All of them are looking for the same thing: a quality book of which they can be proud.
Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, Editorial Dunken has been selected to receive the BID International Star Award for Quality for 2015 at the convention in Geneva.
About BID and the International Star Award for Quality:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries.
The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level.
Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.