Print books are back! And a brief production history of Horn Notes Edition publications.

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The headline is correct, seven books of mine that since 2018 have only been available in Kindle format are available again as print publications. On topics including low horn, high horn, natural horn, descant and triple horn, Wagner tuba, auditions and orchestral playing, and mellophone, they all may be found linked from the Horn Notes Edition website (here), or search on Amazon. I’m not the only John Ericson there, but the horn related titles are all mine, and they are available worldwide!

Not long ago at all I was actually toying with taking the Kindle publications out of print. The biggest reason was that in spite of a lot of effort on my part the music was tiny and they were not easy for buyers to print. The original ePub files I made would have been easy to print, super easy in fact with big clean music, but when submitted to Amazon the files are further processed. The result was that if you fought your way to the point of printing the music would often print out tiny. That is not what I wanted, and periodically I would hear from customers about this issue.

Developing the Kindle versions was quite a chore in early 2018. My process then was I found some good advice in an article, that to set them up for Kindle I would need to rework my publications as super clean Word files. In the process I also updated the content extensively at that time. But that initial version, when I put it up on Amazon and they processed the file, the music was illegible! So I stepped back and got a fresh subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud. I had used InDesign to lay out my original books in 2007, and I was able to do a very simple layout and make ePub versions where the music was legible.

And then also there was the pricing issue. It is a good deal for you the buyer, but I had to adjust my thinking to line up better with the prices other asked for similar titles.

All totaled up I was never completely happy with the initial versions of the Kindle books. A friend (you know who you are) caught wind of my thinking just a couple weeks ago and had a great suggestion. They had just used the Kindle Create formatting tool now supplied by Kindle Direct Publishing to set up their ePublication. Why not give it a try? The music might come out better. Quickly I found that the ePub versions I developed in InDesign would not work with the tool, so I stepped back to the previous Word versions. It processed the images a bit – the photos look a little artsy – but the music looks great. I updated all of them in the new format; they certainly work better in the Kindle or in their app on an iPad or computer.

Then I was like, hey, I have these super clean Word files, let’s look again at a print version. How it works now with these publications is that they are printed and shipped on demand. As I understand it Amazon has no inventory; they print it from files I supply when you order it. All I really needed to do at this point was make some format changes and a print cover.

The format changes were fairly simple. Some issues here and there, but I made notes and did the same thing to all the books. It probably helped me that the print versions have been off the market for a while; I could look at them with fresh eyes and adjust them to a simple and clean layout.

As already mentioned, the original books in 2007 were all done in InDesign. That program I would rate as so complicated that I almost gave up, which is saying a lot as I can be a very stubborn person. But by then I had set up an LLC and had all the text (the hardest part!) and musical examples (for which I had learned Finale to produce and edit), so quitting was not really an option.

As time passed I could also see the market trends. Printing was not cheap, and it became more of a time drag to mail things out, especially international. As a result, the natural horn method of 2012 was only published as a PDF eBook, and I shifted revised versions of others to PDF sales as well. While they printed very well, what I did not like about these versions was there were no live links from the table of contents to the chapters. That is something I gained by going to the Kindle version, but, again, in the initial version released the music was not displaying as I would wish.

Another motivation to change formats and consider a different publishing method was my sales platform quit working in 2017, and it seemed like a good time to think big and make a change. Also, selling them myself, over time I realized I was risking potential tax related problems with overseas sales, so I had actually stopped selling to Europe. For sure I was missing out on international sales. Using Kindle, Amazon deals with the VAT tax and such.

Now, just a year and a half later, I would rate it MUCH simpler than ever to publish a book/ebook combo using Kindle Direct Publishing. So much easier I might consider adding a couple more titles.

As part of the recent production process I started breaking out InDesign to rework the covers and then I was like, why not try the tool Amazon provides? I got better covers than I would have ever produced. I’m hoping to never use InDesign again!

I would note also, these are all books with text, there is solid information to be found in each publication and at the price asked they are I think a huge bargain. Back in 2017 I dropped all of my straight music publications that I used to offer (although some are now in the IHS Online Music Sales), but I will be considering options with some materials that are still out of print. It is interesting to look back and see my thinking in 2017 and where it led to today.

To close, the full list of books and ebooks are listed with links to each title on the Horn Notes Edition website (here), check them out!

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