Getting books across international borders can be tricky. Sometimes it’s a language problem, sometimes it’s a massive red-tape problem, sometimes just a spiteful government official having a bad day. When we published A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas I committed to sending several hundred copies to the author, Chip Morris, in San Cristóbal, Chiapas. That’s where the saga began.
The book’s printer was based in Hong Kong, and Chip’s copies of the book traveled by container ship from there to Veracruz, Mexico, and from there by air to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, and from there by pickup truck to San Cristóbal, and from there by sheer muscle power up a steep hill into a shed behind the author’s house. At every stop along the way (except for the last one), there were papers to sign and stamp and fees to pay. Even though books are generally duty-free. It took months.
As soon as Chip received these copies, eventually, he sold them all. And wanted more.
By this time all the rest of the books were in the U.S., so I used the U.S. Postal Service to convey copies to Chiapas. The USPS has special rates for shipping books internationally, and since we were just talking about a couple hundred copies, it seemed like a good plan. And it was. Chip received the books and sold the books and requested more books.
This time, though, there was a problem: the books vanished. Months later, the boxes came back, much the worse for wear. We don’t know why, or where they had been lurking, but it was not good. The boxes were so beat up that we stuck them in a corner of our little warehouse and forgot about them. Eventually the book went out of print, and we arranged to have electronic editions made for Kindles, Nooks, and such. We also arranged to have the book printed “on demand,” which means just a few copies at a time can be made by our distributor in Chicago. Just one little problem with that, though.
The original edition had a beautiful fold-out map tipped into the front. Tiny watercolor illustrations of the different huipils from nineteen villages featured in the book grace this map. They were painted by one of my favorite illustrators, Susan Strawn, working in close collaboration with the author. It’s little touches such as this that make book publishing so much fun! And you can’t really do it with eBooks or even print-on-demand books. So now the map exists only in these few dozen dinged copies that need to be cleaned out of our tiny storage space.
The copies aren’t that bad, really, mostly just bent corners. Ordinarily we would discount such “hurt” books substantially. But not these. They are special. They want to go to good homes with their pride intact. They want to be loved. As they say in commercials, “Act Now!”
Order your copy of the well-traveled, original edition of A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas while they last!