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Industry Writer/Analyst Leverages Digital Printing to Publish First Novel

Monday, January 24, 2005

Press release from the issuing company

Saratoga Springs, NY (January 21, 2005) -- Richard Romano, a writer/analyst for the graphic communications industry, has just published his first novel, a science-fiction comedy in the tradition of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Telling the story of what happens when a computer virus is transferred from machine to man,Virus! is a freewheeling comedy that takes its heroes from the depths of outer space all the way to downtown Denver. “My goal was to make it the literary equivalent of Airplane! or a Monty Python movie,” says the author. “And I use the word ‘literary’ quite loosely.” “I’ve been writing about on-demand book printing for almost 10 years,” he continues. “So I thought, ‘Why not put my money where my mouth is?’” Romano did all the book’s design and production himself, laying out the pages in Adobe InDesign. It was printed by Integrated Book Technology (IBT), a digital book printer located in Troy, NY, on one of the company’s seven Xerox DocuTechs. The cover was designed by the author, with a hand-drawn illustration created by Jeff Tocci, a Saratoga Springs, NY-based illustrator, and the cover was printed on IBT’s Ryobi 582H sheetfed offset press. IBT also has a Delphax digital web press and an HP Indigo E-Print Pro+. IBT, founded in 1991, also has full prepress and bindery services. The story of Virus! draws on Romano’s long love of science-fiction, and many scenes in the novel lampoon the genre’s common themes and motifs. “One of the things I wanted to play with is the idea that in sci-fi, technology-and computers in particular-often behave much more reliably and flawlessly than they do in reality. In Virus!, the characters have the kinds of problems with technology that everyday users tend to have.” Perhaps the embodiment of the novel’s satirical approach to technology is the character of Jet, a robot that is at heart “a walking, talking personal computer.” “The idea of Jet was, What if your computer was actually ‘alive’? Think about all the problems you have with your computer and all the irritating things it does, and then translate those into a walking, talking character.” Virus! was published by Hidden Harbour Press, a publishing imprint launched by Kimberley Hupp and Richard Romano in 2001. Hidden Harbour’s first publication was Hupp’s Keeping Your Boat Afloat When the Big One Hits, a practical guide to crisis management. (Kimberley passed away in September 2004, after an 11-year battle with cancer. Thus, all further sales of Keeping Your Boat Afloat When the Big One Hits will be donated to cancer research and environmental protection. Information can be found at www.kimhupp.net.) Virus! is being distributed by Rich Text & Graphics, the author’s own editorial and graphic design services company. The hardest part of the entire endeavor, says Romano, was not the actual writing or production ("which was a tremendous amount of fun,” he says), but rather the sales and marketing. “One of the themes I always come back to in everything that I’ve written on the topic of do-it-yourself publishing is that the success of the project is ultimately a function of sales and marketing. You can have the best-written, best-designed, best-printed book out there, but if you can’t market it properly, you’re just going to be stuck with a bunch of boxes in your garage.” Although Virus! is Romano’s first novel, it is not his first book. He is the author or coauthor of a half-dozen or so computer and graphic arts titles including PageMaker 6.5 Complete (Hayden Books, 1996), Digital Photography Pocket Primer: Capturing and Optimizing Images for Print and Web-Based Publishing (Windsor Professional Information, 1999), Sams Teach Yourself Adobe InDesign 1.5 in 24 Hours (Sams Publishing, 2000), The Scanning Workshop (Que Publishing, 2001), Special Edition Using Photoshop 7 (written with Peter Bauer and Jeff Foster, Que Publishing, 2002), and Special Edition Using Photoshop CS (written with Peter Bauer, Que Publishing, 2003). Romano was also the editor (with his father Frank Romano) of the landmark GATF Encyclopedia of Graphic Communications (Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, 1997). Romano is a contributing writer/analyst for TrendWatch Graphic Arts (TWGA), for which he writes market research reports (the TWGA Printing and Internet Design & Development survey reports); a half-dozen or so special reports each year, including the yearly TWGA printing and creative market forecasts; Fast Facts; and the TWGA monthly newsletters Graphic Directions and Creative Directions, as well as a handful of other projects. “Basically, I’m a delivery system for words,” he quips. He also “delivers” those words in person, occasionally speaking to industry groups at various seminars and trade shows such as Graph Expo, Macworld, Print Outlook, and others, usually in conjunction with TrendWatch Graphic Arts. Romano also works with TrendWatch founders Jim Whittington and Dr. Joe Webb on their TrendWatch Inc. surveys of the visual effects/dynamic media industry, and has also worked with Library Journal and Publishers Weekly on several of their own market research studies. He also does freelance graphic design work, primarily for the TrendWatch businesses, as well as a number of Saratoga Springs-based businesses and organizations. Lately he has been working with printing industry consultant Jim Olsen on a series of variable-data printing projects and seminars. Romano got his foothold in the graphic communications industry in 1994 when, as a graduate of New York University’s nascent Multimedia Production certificate program, he was tapped as a contributing editor to Digital Imaging magazine, which at the time was published by Los Angeles-based Micro Publishing Press (MPP). He moved out to LA to work for MPP full-time in 1997, initially to run their book publishing/special projects division, eventually becoming a senior editor and then managing editor of both Digital Imaging and the company’s flagship publication Micro Publishing News. In 2000, he moved back east, settling in Saratoga Springs, New York, and began working with TrendWatch. After Micro Publishing News was discontinued in early 2001, he and several MPN colleagues launched CrossMedia magazine. From the Virus! experience, he learned a lot not only about book production but also about novel writing. “I also learned that printers’ IT departments get very nervous when you send large files named ‘Virus,’” he jokes. Virus! is being produced in an initial run of 500 copies. Cover price is $14.95. For more information or to order copies, visit www.richtextandgraphics.com or write to virusbook@richtextandgraphics.com.




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