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Facebook helps to write this World Cup whowunit

NORMAN GILLER is editing and publishing a unique, instant book on the 2010 World Cup, using the comments and contributions of hundreds of football followers

For anybody interested in producing your own book, stick with me during the next 1000-odd (Very odd. Ed) words.

I have set up the People’s World Cup Panel on Facebook, where we have daily debates and discussions. Club colours are put to one side and the Panel is not blinkered or jingoistic. From the first day online, I made it clear in Basil Fawlty-speak that we did not want any “riff raff.”

I chose as my promotional partners the premier England Football Online website (www.englandfootballonline.com), and our non-partisan, even-handed approach to the finals has attracted global support from all points of the compass, including at the last count Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the United States, Argentina, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Cyprus, Spain, the Czech Republic and France.

As the first of many polls, I have asked our Panel members to forecast their two finalists. The results will appear in a Poll posted on the eve of the finals, and everybody who takes part will have their name and selections printed in the Voting section of the book. Hopefully, they will find themselves part of an historic World Cup.

They will be offered the book at a huge discount in return for their Panel support.

The question my partner, son, heir and best friend Michael and I asked ourselves when we first thought of the idea is: How many books do we get printed?

How many of the Panellists will want to put their hands in their pockets or purses?

It is an unanswerable question, so we have decided to go down the Print-On-Demand route.

Just in case P-O-D is new to you, or you think it means Payable On Death, let me give you a brief summary:

Print On Demand has been made possible by digital technology and is best used for printing for a fixed-cost per unit on short runs. Traditional off-set printing is still the cheapest and best for long runs, but the set-up price is much more expensive than with the digital method.

Among the major benefits is that you do not have to order huge stocks of books that can take up vast areas of storage space and send you into a depression when the mountain does not seem to get any smaller (been there, done that). No more the heartbreak of having your unsold books pulped.

Everything is filed in ready-to-print digital format by the printer, who will run your orders off to order, hence Print-On-Demand.

Let me give you an example: You want 1,000 160-page books printed in the traditional off-set/lithographic style, say 188mm x 245mm. The upfront money will be around £2,500, or £2.50 per copy. You have now got to store and distribute them.

The Print-On-Demand way, you pay around £100 for the set-up from a pdf file that you supply. Then you can order one book, or 500 books at a time, at a cost of around £3.70 each.

So you have to find £2,500 or £100 to get started. It’s a no-brainer. The finished product to the layman’s eye is perfect, but experienced publishing people can see the quality is not quite as good as off-set.

I am doing an all-in deal with CPI, the UK leaders in this new form of publishing, who have their headquarters in Eastbourne. Their man in charge is Geoff Fisher, a walking record book on modern print technology, who will guide you through the basics.

They will also mail out my books, so that my only workload will be providing the .pdf file and supplying the names and addresses of the customers. They have a tie-in with major distributors Gardners of Eastbourne, who can supply your books to the High Street outlets.

This all adds around £1.25 to each unit price, plus postage. The profit margin is smaller than with the traditional offset run, but the risks are negligible.

We are hoping to be the first completed book on the World Cup. I have several on-the-spot Fleet Street reporters ” old colleagues and friends ” who will be feeding me background details, and we are going to report each match as it happens. So as I start writing I will not know which team has lifted the World Cup. It will be not so much a whodunit as a whowunit.

The journos who will sneer at me for “writing from the screen” may be interested in an experience I had back in 1970, the first World Cup televised in Britain in colour, with studio panels and the then new-fangled “slow motion action replays”.

I was out in Mexico for five weeks, reporting for the Daily Express, but when I got back home (ahh, Back Home, the England players’ song) I found nearly everybody I spoke to was an expert on the World Cup. They were telling me about things I had not seen.

It was then I realised that newspapers were always going to trail behind television in the coverage of major sports events, and that if you want an all-embracing view of the action, you have to watch the box. Sad but true.

MY REGULAR READER will remember that I warned the Football Association about the PR disaster waiting for them over the naming of the final World Cup squad. Forty years on, it seems, and despite my urgings, nothing has been learned.

Thanks to having my ear to the ground and my eye to the screen, I told our World Cup Panel members the names of the axed seven players four hours ahead of Sky Sports News and their vast team. Likewise, anyone with a Twitter account could have read about Theo Walcott’s omission while the Arsenal midfielder was still on the golf course.

Instead of laboriously ringing around 30 players on Tuesday morning, Fabio should have informed his players immediately after the game against Japan. He could have told the media: “Provided Gareth Barry passes his fitness test, these are my final 23 players …”

The other advantage with this way would have been that the papers would have been writing about the World Cup squad, rather than slating the players for their bumbling performance against Japan.

Instead there was a drip-drip-drip of revelations, including many false alarms. Once again, the FA had shot themselves in both feet.

I also blame the FA’s lack of PR sense in the way that yesterday they allowed the England players virtually to ignore the exuberant and warm welcome they got on their arrival at the team hotel in South Africa.

Too many of the England players sauntered in with their hands in their pockets. What an arrogant shower they looked … I assume the nationals will dig into them. They should have at least acknowledged the greeting party with some applause.

Perhaps I should write an instant book for them on good manners and the value of public relations, but maybe that would be too demanding.

□ Order The Golden Double, introduced and autographed by Tottenham legend Dave Mackay. Also Jimmy Greaves At Seventy introduced and signed by Greavsie, and The Lane of Dreams autographed and introduced by Steve Perryman and Jimmy Greaves.

Full details at www.normangillerbooks.co.uk


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