Keeping the Postal Service Alive

My friend Morgan tweeted this morning “I think that @ruk’s letter press results are what’s keeping the postal industry afloat.” Which reminded me that I planned to provide an accounting of the costs associated with my Mail Me Something experiment. So here goes.

Item Cost
Druckwerkstatt Studio Fee (5 days total) $53.84
Druckwerkstatt Per-Print Fees (180 prints total) $72.56
Druckwerkstatt Paper Costs $22.20
Postage Costs (5 mailings to 40 people) $239.99
Envelopes $36.85

By the end of the process I had 40 people on the weekly mailing list, which means that the total “per subscriber” cost was roughly $10.63, or about $2.12 per subscriber per week.

After they signed up I invited “subscribers” to donate $5.00 via PayPal at their option, and I also provided a more flexible donation link, where they could donate larger amounts;  13 of the 40 (one third) donated a total of $85.00, leaving me with $340.44 to pick up myself.

I didn’t launch this experiment as a money-making endeavour, and so I don’t consider that a “deficit” but rather a very cheap learning experience: about $8 per hour of studio time.

I thorough enjoyed the experience of spending five days of my “working vacation” at Druckwerkstatt, away from the digital hubbub (my mobile phone didn’t even work in the basement, so it was a full-in 19th century experience); having an “audience” imposed the same sort of rigor on the process that having an audience of readers for this blog provides.

And receiving photos and descriptions of the final products in their new homes around the world has provided me with tremendous joy.

Thank you to all who participated. Who know: now that I have 40 of you on a mailing list, I might just have to keep sending things…


Ann Thurlow's picture
Ann Thurlow on August 30, 2011 - 18:11

From today’s Globe and Mail

Social-media fans are embracing paper,” The Wall Street Journal says. “… [T]ech-savvy paper-lovers – in frequent contact via blogs, Facebook and Twitter – are giving rise to a host of small stationery makers. … Paper has a particular appeal for those who spend hours at a time in front of a screen. Much of the recent small-stationery resurgence has taken place in letterpress printing, a method that uses raised type to make a deep impression in thick paper, creating a substantial, textured object. … Selecting a special card printed on fine paper, writing in ink and dropping a stamped envelope into a mailbox – not to mention the boundary-crossing step of obtaining a home address – designate a friendship as significant

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on August 30, 2011 - 18:19

For the record, letterpress printing that “make[s] a deep impression in thick paper,” while attractive to the wedding invitation set, is, to many printers’ eyes, letterpress printing done poorly. In this light Martha Stewart is seen an agent of evil in certain letterpress circles.

Valerie Bang-Jensen's picture
Valerie Bang-Jensen on August 31, 2011 - 16:54

I just used my handy “Full Moon” calendar to realize that tonight is a full moon! Thanks for the useful reference.

Valerie Bang-Jensen's picture
Valerie Bang-Jensen on August 31, 2011 - 17:51

Oops. Just realized that the full moon calendar is for 2012.

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