I need help with this creation.
February 8, 2009 8:01 AM   Subscribe

I have invented a calendar that I think is unique in design and function.

Last year, I spent six months reviewing copyrights and patents (and applications) from the US Patent and Trademark Office and US Copyright Office office and didn't see or read anything that fits it. I've since filed for a patent and a copyright. I'm told I'll get one or the other since it is either art or a device, but not both.
I think its design is to the standard calendar as the Reverse Polish Notation Calculator is to the standard calculator. I mean, it's initially confusing, but once you get used to it, it's much more efficient. To me, this means it would only appeal to a niche market, but probably a strong and loyal niche market - engineers, actuaries, event planners, etc.

My main question is, how can I get it printed for distribution and in front of my niche? I frequent a lot of thrift stores, and last week, barely missed buying an HP Large Format Printer for under $100. The office supply stores and online printers, by contrast, charge about $8 per sq. foot for the kind of color it has. And because I think it must be at least wall poster size to be of practical use, that makes the cost of each one nearly $70. That seems to much forthe market to bear. Does anybody know how I can reproduce this and get it circulating (and among whom) in the market, either by finding a cheap, large format printer or a cheap means for digital or offset printing?
posted by CollectiveMind to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Reduce the number of colors (assuming it doesn't break the design), talk to a print shop, get a few dozen printed, and pound the pavement getting the idea in front of people.

Another idea: write / commission a computer program to be written with an example. If the data isn't in a computer, it's worthless to people who are on-the-go and rely on their PDAs. Your program ideally would auto-sync to outlook / ical (windows & mac), so you can just use all the existing PDA software out there.

Build a web site that demos it, explains it, and then sells it. If it's really as cool or unique as you say, you can probably build some steam selling and getting traffic. Push it to the various "productivity" blogs (you know, the ones that like talking about productivity, and not actually doing any work). Sell them at full price on that web site. $70? $80? Sure, for a poster sized thing that you can't get elsewhere.
posted by cschneid at 8:28 AM on February 8, 2009

Getting into stores would be really hard, and their markup would be at least 50%. There's an annual or maybe semi-annual event called Retailvision where people push their products to various retail outlets like office and electronics stores, but last time I looked, it was $18,000 just to go. As cschneid says, setting up a website with a demo and an explanation, and selling them individually might be your best bet. I think that Great Mind Media will print a 2' x 3' poster for $25, plus shipping, which could be direct to your buyers.

Finding a partner who sells productivity stuff might be another option, but not an easy one to pull off.

Good luck with it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 8:47 AM on February 8, 2009

Unless you specifically need it to be on normal paper, it seems like going the custom-poster route, as still_wears_a_hat suggests, would be the cheapest way of doing this. There are lots of online companies that let you upload an image and order it as a 2' x 3' poster (e.g. Cafepress and Zazzle -- looks like there have been some previous AskMefis on this topic), and I would think something on glossy poster paper would look nicer than something printed on a plotter at Kinkos anyway. And many of these websites do printing on demand, so that customers can order directly from the website without your having to do anything.
posted by pluckemin at 9:06 AM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: As a matter of fact, I did have a computer programmer design a workable, javascript version last year. That version is formatted landscape versus portrait for the wall poster version. I also have a static version in a .pdf version on my website.
posted by CollectiveMind at 9:34 AM on February 8, 2009

And your web site is.... not in your profile for some reason... so we can't easily see what you're talking about and give more specific answers.
posted by amtho at 10:42 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I second talking to a local print shop about printing it— they'll have the most useful advice on reducing it to spot colors, choosing paper, and so on. And then they can print it for you!
posted by hattifattener at 12:06 PM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: I though I had included my website in my profile, but it wasn't. It's there now. Thanks, amtho.
posted by CollectiveMind at 1:10 PM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: It's a sub-tab called "R&D" under the "Resume" page.
posted by CollectiveMind at 1:12 PM on February 8, 2009

Is it something that could be laminated or printed as a white board, which would enable people to buy it once and use it perpetually? That could justify a higher cost.
posted by redsparkler at 1:39 PM on February 8, 2009

Response by poster: No, because of leap year.
posted by CollectiveMind at 1:52 PM on February 8, 2009

If 17" x 24" is big enough, you might try PrintingForLess.com or a similar online printer. You'll have to print about 200 to get your price down.
posted by ecorrocio at 6:26 PM on February 8, 2009

OK, having looked at a PDF of what I think it is on your site, I get the impression that much of its utility comes from using it to calculate the distance/time/difference between two dates, rather than people actually writing on it. If that's true, then maybe a smaller laminated card would be a good way to distribute it.

I, for example, sure don't have anywhere to put a huge poster-sized version of this, but a small, handy laminated version, or even a simply mounted version that I could hang on a single nail or cubicle-friendly pin might be handy. To be honest, while it could be useful it's not that pretty in its current state -- it's not ugly, it's just that it could be prettier if a designer had a crack at it -- I'm not sure I'd want it dominating whatever room it would be in, so smaller could be good. You might even consider figuring out if you could make a bi-fold wallet-sized version or something to hand out with your logo on it.

If I'm mistaken about how it would be used, then I apologize.
posted by amtho at 8:39 PM on February 8, 2009

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