Production and Design Complaints RE: The Complete Works


#1

Like many others on this forum, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase The Complete Works of EA Koetting back in December. I thought it odd that in the months leading up to its final production that there were no pictures – not even a teaser image – of the grimoire I and many others paid $400 for. Even so, I still felt confident about the investment as just about every one of Koetting’s prior works were beautifully produced and did not disappoint. I regret to say that after the four month wait, I am supremely disappointed with The Complete Works tome and here’s why:

Grimoires have always drawn me in not just for their contents, but also for their art, design and aesthetic. In this area, I find the Complete Works to be severely lacking. Let’s start with the cover. That’s leather? Doesn’t look like it. Doesn’t feel like it. For $400, I was expecting something along the lines of the leather-bound Kingdoms of Flame. My dislike of the left-handed pentagram aside, this cover looks cheap in comparison especially with its high-gloss sheen.

Let’s talk typefaces. What was the rationale behind using Helvetica titling pages and Times New Roman for the body copy? Why aren’t the title pages designed at all? There’s no flare, no flourishes or ornamental details that are hallmarks of other classic grimoires. This is very disappointing. It feels completely foreign for a work of this significance and is more reminiscent of a printed handout from the internet than a talismanic grimoire. I’ve never seen a book with margins this small. They ought to be at least a half inch wider in each direction for a page of this size. Why did you have to use Times New Roman? Why not a classier, more elegant serif that’s not the default web font?

I have found many faults with the imagery contained in the tome, primarily the sigils. Belial’s sigil looks like clipart and you can see jagged lines. Paimon’s sigil is grainy mess and looks like it was printed from a 100 pixel JPEG found on Google images. Did you bother checking the resolution of these images before printing them? There is an obvious disparity in the image quality and their scale from page to page. Furthermore, there is no cohesive element that makes these images feel like anything beyond pasted images from the web. Take a look at the Grimorium Verum or The Grimoire of Armadel. These are pristine examples of sigils in print. That’s about the quality I’d expect from a $400 tome.

Even the table of contents has flaws. The chapter listing for each book is not properly left-justified (noticeable amount of spacing buffer between one line and the next) and looks like it was type-set on a typewriter. This is all a far cry from the professional layout and type-setting I’ve seen in some of your books published through Ixaxaar. I think self-publishing was a good move, but you really should have hired a designer with some experience in designing books.

It pains me to say this, but I’ll be selling my copy on eBay after I finish reading through it for the aforementioned reasons. Perhaps these issues I’ve mentioned are miniscule to most, but in my opinion, this tome falls far beneath the benchmark of other grimoires in terms of overall production and that’s extremely unfortunate. They’re not even my writings and I’m infuriated about the treatment and production of the contents within. Had I seen pictures of this release beforehand, there’s no way I’d pay $400. Not even $200, for that matter. The lesson here, I suppose, is not to shell out $400 for a blind-sale.

All harshness aside, I am still a fan and will probably purchase one or two of your out of print works with the money I earn from the sale of The Complete Works.


#2

…and there’s typos…

But… as far as I’m concerned it’s the message not the medium and there’s gold in them thar’ Times New Roman hills.

If you tried to buy all the books separately that would set you back a lot more than $400 and let’s face it how many grimoires are 900 pages long?

I suspect the tome is aimed on balance, more at practitioners than collectors. Mine will be heavily thumbed and I will get candle wax over it at some point! I wouldn’t want it to be made of expensive materials otherwise it would just collect dust on the shelf as I would be too afraid to use it.

I shall keep a beady eye on eBay and see how much yours sells for!


#3

I do not know much about book publishing but my leather grimoires from Ixaxaar and Nephilim Press are quite nice in terms of physical production. But I imagine to produce that kind of quality with the size of Complete Works would be quite expensive. And to be fair those publishers have been at this game for much longer.

Timothy and E.A. are not experienced independent book publishers; something that appears to be a bit of an art form. So in that case I believe they did an incredible job for their first try at self-publishing.

I, myself, was not looking for collectible work of art, but more of a one-stop tome to actually work through. Basically I paid for all the info to be available in one place. As long as the book holds up for the amount of time I work through it, that’s enough value for me. The word is dead until you actually experience what the words point to.

It would be incredibly naive to think E.A. and Timothy are only doing this for the good of future magicians out there. They are also out to make money and increase their own power. They are not altruists. They are Black Magicians. This is a new endeavor and any good businessman just gets shit going and uses feedback to improve their products and presentation over time.

I don’t see BALG as only a resource for magical instruction but also as potential for a strong community of future magicians that will make a huge dent in our consensus of reality.

So, there will be criticisms of the products, but I don’t think initial mistakes are any reason to completely write off their value. I imagine BALG in a few years time will be an amazing groundbreaking resource with little competition.

I hope to publish my own books with them in the future. Their use of contemporary technology to convey ancient teaching will eventually surpass anything out there.

I am aware, cinereous, that this post didn’t really address your arguments about the book itself, but was more of a stream of thoughts based on how I feel about the current overall quality of their products and where things are going.


#4

Are there flaws? Yes. Is it not worth the price paid? I think its worth it. When you have E.A.s books selling for several hundred to thousands the book more than pays for itself. Many grimoires are less than perfect but it doesn’t diminish their value in content and practical use. I agree with your assessment of some of the sigils but font and spacing are non issues to me. I would rather have the font be something easily read than some exotic script that while beautiful to observe is a bitch to read. The sigils that are not perfect are in my opinion redeemed by the corrections made to the previous sigils printed, not to mention the OAA content included and the extra chapter of KOF. The sigils that are imperfect can easily be obtained and was not a huge factor to me, I was disappointed they were not pristine but the fact that I can obtain them in seconds of a google search made it not much of an issue. I don’t know too many practitioners that don’t have the pages of their grimoires laced with pages of notes, alternate sigils and the like. I bought my copy to practice from and am pleased despite the flaws.

If you want to sell your book of all of E.A.'s works to buy them separately and they will also contain incorrect sigils and typos then that is your prerogative. Necromaster was offering to trade a complete works for his special reserve BOA which goes on eBay for a lot more than what the complete works were sold for.


#5

I do not disagree with most of your complaints. I do love the left hand pentagram symbol though, so I don’t agree with that. But, contrary to what was advertised, it’s definately not the most beautiful or sturdy book I have in my collection of books. But I hardly expected it to rival the beauty and sturdy quality of books from such publishers as Scarlet Imprint and Ixaxaar’s limited editions, and other publishers that are known for the most beautiful occult works. Sure it was advertised, and therefore, I certainly understand why you have these problems with it. But still.
The main reason to get this book was first and foremost to get all Koetting’s solo-authored books in one single tome. And we got that. On top of that we also got valuable extra material and some corrections in the material. This was the main reason why this book was made.
The appearance of the tome and the quality of it was secondary.
So yes, from a fine edition lover to another, I can sympathise with your reasons to complain, but I don’t understand why you think you’ve wasted your money. But perhaps I’m not the best person for understanding something like this since money means very little to me. It’s what I buy from the money that matters to me, and this information that I got in a beautiful book form is a whole lot more worth than $400. What does money matter compared to the knowledge and power you can gain from this book?

This book wasn’t made to stand and look pretty on a shelf. It was made to be used for magical practise. The content of the book and the power of it’s consecration and empowerment is what in the end is important with this work. I would have bought and treasured this book even if it was a standard quality hardcover. On top of that I got a pretty beautiful leatherbound book that is the most important book I have, and second to that is my BoA. So I’m happy.

If you decide to sell your book there will probably be many others who didn’t get the chance to buy it then who will jump at the new chance, so in the end the book is put to good use by the next owner and you will have gained some money for reselling it. Win win. :slight_smile:


#6

Thanks for getting the Complete Works. And I’m happy to review your complaints and give my responses to help you better understand the way we created this master grimoire, and why we believe it’s better and more useful the way it is.

Yes, it is Corona cowhide leather. Feel free to study up on it:

http://www.theleathercollection.us/corona

It’s particularly suitable for durability, which is the first priority of this tome.

Saying you think it looks cheap is a matter of opinion. I simply disagree.

Other grimoires use a different leather, that we specifically decided against, because it deteriorates faster over time.

Let’s talk typefaces. What was the rationale behind using Helvetica titling pages and Times New Roman for the body copy? Why aren’t the title pages designed at all? There’s no flare, no flourishes or ornamental details that are hallmarks of other classic grimoires. This is very disappointing. It feels completely foreign for a work of this significance and is more reminiscent of a printed handout from the internet than a talismanic grimoire. I’ve never seen a book with margins this small. They ought to be at least a half inch wider in each direction for a page of this size. Why did you have to use Times New Roman? Why not a classier, more elegant serif that’s not the default web font?

I didn’t choose the font family, so I can’t comment on that.

I will say that we deliberately avoided adding unnecessary “flair”, like every other grimoire out there.

You’ll also notice that Become A Living God itself has none of the trappings of conventional occultism either. It consists of just E.A.'s stoic face and the motto, “Real magick, real results” at the top of every page.

Quite frankly - and this will be either encouraging or discouraging depending how you take it - I’m very bored by the occult, it’s symbology, and it’s pop cultural imagery.

I cannot log into Facebook without seeing a hundred posers flashing inverted pentagrams, devil horns, bloody skulls, and all the rest of the hackneyed trivia people have ignorantly over-associated with magick, thus turning it into one giant circus, horror movie, freak show.

Did you know that the inverted pentagram is not even an evil symbol originally? It actually was used to ward off evil. It has been so corrupted, that it now stands for the opposite of it’s basic intention.

E.A. and I are figuring out how we can actually be new, and different, and innovative in a way that cuts through the “noise” and makes you focus on actual SUBSTANCE, so practitioners can finally work on Ascent.

For too long the field of magick has been style over substance.

In this book, and in our programs, we are doing everything we can to flip that around, and make it substance over style.

This means paying more attention to the logic and effectiveness of the ideas presented, and less on the glamor of appearances.

And in reference to the thin margins, this is because of the massive page count. Almost every publisher has an absolute upper limit of 900 pages.

Saying that this masterful tome is similar to “printing out pages of the internet” is fucking ridiculous and just flat out wrong. We used the highest possible quality and finest premium material at every step of this project:

  • Smyth sewn binding: highest durability (costs extra, extremely expensive)
  • Corona leather: highest durability (costs extra)
  • Paper stock: highest durability for page count
  • Silver flake gilding: beautiful (costs extra)
  • Silver foil stamping: beautiful
  • 3 colored ribbons: beautiful (costs extra)

And we stamped no words, and no names on the cover or spine to keep a certain mystery about the tome, and imprinted a tilted left-hand pentagram in honor of a vision E.A. received from Azazel.

I have found many faults with the imagery contained in the tome, primarily the sigils. Belial’s sigil looks like clipart and you can see jagged lines. Paimon’s sigil is grainy mess and looks like it was printed from a 100 pixel JPEG found on Google images. Did you bother checking the resolution of these images before printing them? There is an obvious disparity in the image quality and their scale from page to page. Furthermore, there is no cohesive element that makes these images feel like anything beyond pasted images from the web. Take a look at the Grimorium Verum or The Grimoire of Armadel. These are pristine examples of sigils in print. That’s about the quality I’d expect from a $400 tome.

I don’t know about this, because I didn’t handle the graphics.

Even the table of contents has flaws. The chapter listing for each book is not properly left-justified (noticeable amount of spacing buffer between one line and the next) and looks like it was type-set on a typewriter. This is all a far cry from the professional layout and type-setting I’ve seen in some of your books published through Ixaxaar. I think self-publishing was a good move, but you really should have hired a designer with some experience in designing books.

As far as I know, E.A. did this on purpose.

Could we have been boring and just left-aligned the entire table? Obviously.

I personally like that he gave it, as you said, a type-writer appeal and lined it up along a central axis, manually.

It’s unique.

It pains me to say this, but I’ll be selling my copy on eBay after I finish reading through it for the aforementioned reasons. Perhaps these issues I’ve mentioned are miniscule to most, but in my opinion, this tome falls far beneath the benchmark of other grimoires in terms of overall production and that’s extremely unfortunate. They’re not even my writings and I’m infuriated about the treatment and production of the contents within. Had I seen pictures of this release beforehand, there’s no way I’d pay $400. Not even $200, for that matter. The lesson here, I suppose, is not to shell out $400 for a blind-sale.

It pains me to say this to you, friend, but I have a complaint about your complaints, and here it is:

You’re making the same mistakes in your critique that others have also made in their criticism of Become A Living God.

You’ve condemned only the appearance - the external packaging - of the information. (The leather, fonts, and even the pixelation of the graphics)

You’re not addressing the virtue or quality of any of the actual content matter inside the book…

  • What did you think about the proprietary magick ideas it presents?

  • How did your performance of the psycho-active rituals go?

  • What kind of success and failures did you experience along the unique pathworkings it provides?

These questions constitue a REAL critique of occult writing.

You are LITERALLY judging a book by its cover. It’s like saying you dislike a classic movie because the box the DVD came in was not stylish enough for you.

We did not price this book at $397 just because it’s pretty. This book commands that price because of the PREMIUM VALUE of the information it possesses. (In fact, it deserves a much higher price.)

This is also why we did a pre-release sale. Because we knew that magicians who truly cared about the knowledge in its pages wouldn’t need to scrutinize superficialities, like whether or not the leather has a “high-gloss sheen” to it.

No disrespect, but you are exactly the kind of person for whom we did NOT create this book.

We specifically created these 200 extremely limited edition grimoires for the sorcerers who cherish and treasure the inherent beauty and power of the magick ideas in the writing, and who put them to work inside their own vocational occult practice so they can Become Living Gods.

Selling the book off because you dislike the shine of the leather, or the alignment of the table of contents, means to me that you couldn’t care less about what actually matters: learning to perform the black magick that E.A. instructs so adeptly!

The bottom line is this: I’m thankful for your patronage and supporting E.A.'s work.

But to a certain extent, I consider your complaints illegitimate and off-base.

If you came to me and complained that the writing inside the book did NOT teach you everything we promised it would, then I’d give you a refund, no questions asked. But as far as I can tell, you just don’t like the way we designed the aesthetics.


I was not in charge of writing and editing, so I have no comment.

I still contend that we delivered on what we promised.

If I did NOT feel that way, I honestly would’ve issued a refund to every single person and taken the financial loss as a lesson in humility.

I’m certainly familiar with Scarlett Imprint and Ixaxaar, and I’ve very closely studied the design of their books. (Cover material, binding style, etc)

To see Scarlett Imprint’s collection, go here:

http://www.scarletimprint.com/books.htm

I think you’ll find that our book is clearly in the same league as theirs. And in some ways, I believe we exceed them.

Every single accent or artistic accoutrements applied to their tomes, we are capable of replicating. It sounds bold, but E.A. and I truly contracted the world’s best bookmaking company for this project. I received the bindery recommendation from my friend, Joel, the acclaimed owner of “Ars Obscura” in Seattle, Washington.

See his work here:

http://arsobscurabookbinding.com/

The truth is, E.A. and I consciously decided AGAINST making the book “fancy”.

And I think that’s an important distinction… the difference between durable beauty and decorative flamboyance.

We wanted our books, which are on extremely dark black magick, to have a more militaristic boot camp look to it, as opposed to an ostentatious, embellished look.


Speaking for myself, the book came out exactly as I wanted it, and I’m very satisfied, and looking forward to our next release by an up-and-coming author, on a topic that will not only fascinate you, but unlock the door to a realm of the most forbidden magick that VERY FEW have experienced.

More news on who the author is, and what the topic will be, very soon!


#7

Timothy, can we expect to see limited runs of future releases in a premium style as per other publishers? or is the intention to keep all future releases in the “simplistic” style? Is it an authors choice?


#8

We’re doing everything on a book-by-book basis.

The aesthetic style depends on the subject matter entirely. And the author, E.A. and myself will arrive at an agreement how it would best look in relation to the topic.

To reiterate, and use the Complete Works as an example:

The tome contains content that is as “evil” as it gets. It covers death curses, necromantic rituals, demonic evocations, and the like.

Obviously, having big floral patterns in the margins, pretty curly Q cursive lettering, and color pictures would look fucking queer, and out of place.

The natural aesthetic of black magick is very militaristic, plain, and black. There is nothing fancy, ostentatious, or frilly about it.

This is why it confuses me when people ask why it doesn’t look more like Scarlett Imprint, which often uses bright neon colors, big showy images, and exotic cover materials.

The aesthetic must match the subject.


#9

howdy.

i own all the scarlet imprint stuff, and the collected works isn’t nearly as nicely produced, in my humble opinion. that said, it’s cheaper by far, page for page.

i agree with the OP for the most part, and i speak from experience as i own the original cloth versions of EA’s eaerlier books (all save spider/butterfly).

yes, those who look to golden hoard publications or scarlet imprint design standards will likely be disappointed as a plain black cover of non-descript leather (and yes, i agree it isn’t “obviously” leather, which still confuses me) is somewhat underwhelming.

and yes, the font family is… conservative. and yes, the sigils are not great etc. however, i can honestly say that even if one believes the aesthetic to be somewhat “cheap” (as i do, to a degree), the content transcends the notion of how much it cost to purchase. having worked through most of EA’s work with significant results, i expected those in charge of book production to deliver what they promised, which they did. unfortunately, they didn’t deliver any more, but this is not a criticism, just an observation.

yes, the margins are tiny and the text layout is as boring as any research paper i’ve seen, but what you can do with what’s actually written (ironically) removes the need for the volume to look any better than it does. i guess it’s a case of “i hope it works better than it looks”, and in this case, it does it in spades. of course, the purpose of margins in books was to allow students at university to make notes. some versions of medical texts become popular way back when simply because they had margins and allowed notation. for a student of magic, and with such detailed work, i was expecting at least 1.5" margins all around in which to make notes etc, but that was merely my own unfounded expectation. there’s still other space to make notes, but… yeah. at least KoF is easier to read in regular font!

so, in short (as it’s way past my bedtime and i’m sweepy), the book could definitely look better, both on the outside and definitely on the inside. and yes, the leather is confusing, but the content makes up for it completely and, funnily enough, the larger format makes the text itself easier to read than the individual books from a few years back (and if you’ve seen how much there is to read, any advantage is welcome!).

basically, if you want a showpiece, any grimoire will suffice. however, this is a practitioner’s book and in reality, once you develop your skills far enough, you’ll only use the sigil catalogues for reference (much like the goetia once you establish a working system for yourself). read, learn, apply and grow. the means by which you get there isn’t important, unless all that is important to you are the means, in which case you bought the wrong book:)

hope you get your money back if you sell it, or that it serves you well if you keep it.

hell, they should offer a cheap-ass paperback as a working copy that i can keep in my backpack and practise with, without having to worry about tearing pages or getting ink/ash on it from general use. or, just a stack of printed pages with chapters stapled together for those of us who are likely to wear out our books completely (and yes, i’ve done that with a few grimoires:)

night all.

-james.


#10
I will say that we deliberately avoided adding unnecessary "flair", like every other grimoire out there.... I cannot log into Facebook without seeing a hundred posers flashing inverted pentagrams, devil horns, bloody skulls, and all the rest of the hackneyed trivia people have ignorantly over-associated with magick, thus turning it into one giant circus, horror movie, freak show.
Imagery for the sake of beauty is a terrible idea, I agree. It's not every other grimoire out there that has pointless imagery, but there certainly is a lot of it out there. But a picture is worth a thousant words. If there is a point to the picture being there, then imagery can do a LOT to enhance the readers emotional involvement with the content of the book. For example the artist who makes a channeled painting of a spirit and puts it in the book, next to the sigil and conjuration, or little artistic imagery made to enhance the emotional involvement with what is written about in the particular chapter it is in. That is meaningful imagery that I definatelly feel is a valuable contribution to the content of a book. So as long as there is a good point to putting in the imagery I feel imagery is valuable.
I still contend that we delivered on what we promised.... If I did NOT feel that way, I honestly would've issued a refund to every single person and taken the financial loss as a lesson in humility
Please don't misunderstand me here, as I am not criticising. But it was advertised to be the most beautiful book ever made. That is of course an individual opinion, but I own books that I consider more beautiful. Now that is not to say that the Complete Works isn't beautiful, because it definately is. It is more beautiful and in better quality than over half of the limited editions I have in my collection. It's more beautiful and better quality (although not as sturdy) than Golden Hoard's limited editions, with one single exception, a book that they only made about 23 copies of. And that is only the cover we are talking about here, since the pages were plastic coated and I hate that. So just because I don't consider it as beautiful and as sturdy as some of my limited editions, doesn't mean that I don't value the book highly and would ever think a refund would be necessary.

Regarding the cover, considered the boards thickness they aren’t as sturdy as some limited editions. The spine isn’t as sturdy as most limited editions I have. This is from what I can see because of the chosen thickness of the material. I guess that the thickness was because of the size of the book. 900+ pages easily makes the book too big, so I can understand why it is as it is. But the fact is that it wont have the studyness of some books with less pages in it. The same goes for the thickness of the pages. And the thickness of the cover and spine aswell as the pages, however stupid it might sound, does make a noticable difference to the overall beauty of the book.
So if I have to come with one critic of this work, it would be the thickness of the boards on the front, back and spine aswell as the thickness of the pages and the thickness of the leather. I understand the reason to make this so thin, but I would personally have prefered it slightly thicker. But as already mentioned, I still love this book very much.

This is why it confuses me when people ask why it doesn't look more like Scarlett Imprint, which often uses bright neon colors, big showy images, and exotic cover materials.

The aesthetic must match the subject


To be fair, that is also how Scarlet Imprint does it. The appearance and material used does indeed match the subject when it comes to Scarlet Imprint’s books.

#11

I wasn’t concerned with the details of its appearance, it’s bound to look well worn by the time I’m done with it. It may not be fancy but it does look like it’ll hold up to excessive use, that’s all I care about. I was glad it wasn’t made to be a show piece; just the bare bones info that I need. I couldn’t have wished for anything more.


#12

um…if someone doesnt want their complete works book i would be GLAD to receive it!!! im dying to get my hands on one!!!


#13

Say what you want about the look (to each his own) but this Tome is DEFINITELY worth the money!!! Did you buy it to admire its design or buy it for the information inside?
I just don’t agree that this book is not worth the money. Put it on ebay for $400. I bet it will sell quick.


#14

The oaa material is priceless, it contains everything you need to know on how to go from shit to legit in no time. If you don’t see the value in that then you are certainly not a serious magician


#15

Humph. Give a person a key to a chest of gold… they bitch that the key has a scuff mark or the chest isn’t fancy enough!!

I noticed one or two things but then I actually started reading and realised the value of what I was learning. You can sell it on ebay, I will practice whats in the book. You will get your money back, I will become dark and terrible and make you my bitch!

Sell it to Amy Madison, sounds like she would actually appreciate the book!


#16

[quote=“Brutus, post:15, topic:962”]Humph. Give a person a key to a chest of gold… they bitch that the key has a scuff mark or the chest isn’t fancy enough!!

I noticed one or two things but then I actually started reading and realised the value of what I was learning. You can sell it on ebay, I will practice whats in the book. You will get your money back, I will become dark and terrible and make you my bitch!

Sell it to Amy Madison, sounds like she would actually appreciate the book![/quote]

oh i would! it hurts my soul so bad that i wasnt able to get one…UGH! im more pissed at myself and thinking what the hell did i spend my money on during september through december!


#17

Thank you Brutus! I have my copy sitting on the coffee table and it is opened every few minutes, my fiancé is getting irritated. I am paying more attention to this book than her, I am thankful she understands how much it means to me. Spent 400 dollars, yet it is priceless to me!


#18

You brought up a good point Andreeje. The price of the book itself made it a labor of love for many to obtain. In the shitty economy many had to sacrifice to get their hands on this book and that makes it mean more to them. I put in a lot of overtime to attain this book and not have it effect my family financially. This book will not be sold for any price. I love it and couldn’t be happier.


#19

Wandering Fool, if I could give your comment a like more than once I would! Well said.


#20

No hard feelings.

The average page count for a Scarlet Imprint book is roughly 200-240 pages. They are all “normal” sized books.

Our Complete Works is about 4 times larger at exactly 900 pages.

Once you cross the 400 page count, your options for embellishing the book decrease dramatically, because the price per book skyrockets, as it’s now an “oversized” specialty book.

This is why many booksellers break a large tome into smaller 2 or 3 book sets. It’s much cheaper for a producer to make a medium sized run of 600 normal books, than it is to retool the machinery and make a small run of 200 over-sized units. In fact, many well-known book craftsmen simply turned us down because they said the book was too big. (And we refused to break it down into a 3-book set)

Here’s an example of the soaring cost for decorating an oversized book:

Take silver page gilding. A real human applies the gilding by hand in a workshop. To gild a 150 page book is affordable, whereas to gild a 900 page book is expensive. Because when you multiply the amount of square inches of surface area that require labor by hand, the cost also multiplies. Furthermore, the gilding alone increases the time of production by over 2 weeks, because it’s a specialized skill and requires outsourcing to another factory in most cases.

In the context of extra-large bookmaking, I’d say ours is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen for less than $500. Hence my particular wording in the newsletter status updates.