Twelve Virtues booklet printing?

post by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-04-11T14:40:10.521Z · score: 4 (18 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 32 comments

For a while now, I've been using a laser printer to print out a couple of hundred copies of the Twelve Virtues of Rationality (in its printable pamphlet version) and taking them with me to conferences, talks, and science fiction conventions.  Cut, staple in the middle (using a large-sized, measuring stapler), and fold.  This method is very cheap, probably something like ten cents a copy for ink and paper.  But it produces crappy-looking pamphlets.

Does anyone know of a way of cheaply printing small 16-page pamphlets?  Take a look at the pamphlet to see the current size.  I would really like to see the pamphlets stack well so I can plump down 50 of them without the tower falling over, which is the main problem with the staple-and-fold method.  But even more important is that they be cheap, considering the quantities in which I hand these out for free.  Something conducive to a professional-looking cover (i.e. allowing for the top sheet to be glossy or a higher quality of paper) would also be nice, again cost permitting.

If I can find a good solution I'll also go ahead and get the pamphlet graphically redesigned before printing, of course, and include some more direct proselytizing material for Less Wrong on the back cover.

I've looked around online, but all the print shops I've seen have been way too expensive for giving away 200 copies per convention - even by myself, much less getting other people to do it on a routine basis.  Does anyone know how to get this done cheaply?  A minimum order of 10,000 for $1000 would be quite acceptable - I expect at that price I could ship some boxes to other LWers.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Z_M_Davis · 2009-04-11T23:06:13.155Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

How well do the "Twelve Virtues" really work as an introduction? After having devoured the entire Yudkowskian canon, I can reread the "Virtues," and it makes sense, and it's beautiful, and I love it, but I've experienced poor results on the two occasions that I can remember pointing others to the document. (One person, already a scientific-rationalist type, was turned off by the poetry; for example, he objected to "curiosity seeks to annihilate itself," saying that curiosity shouldn't be extinguished. I said he was misinterpreting the line, which clearly refers to the answering of a specific question rather than the end of curiosity-in-general; he said it was just poorly-written. The other person, a New-Age spiritual type, just horribly misinterpreted the entire document.)

comment by AnnaSalamon · 2009-04-11T23:38:14.861Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It worked well for me as an introduction; I read it shortly after finding Eliezer's writing. But although it was useful to me, I was embarrassed by its style at the time and hesitated to recommend it to others at an epistemology reading group where I'd chosen some of Eliezer's other writing to discuss.

comment by Roko · 2009-04-12T00:35:26.810Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One person, already a scientific-rationalist type, was turned off by the poetry;

Right, this is the problem I'm getting at

comment by badger · 2009-04-11T15:59:11.725Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are three options I can find: Cheapest offset printing for booklets. 16-page, 5.5"x8.5", black and white booklets have a unit-cost of $0.15 for orders of 10,000 and $0.19 for orders of 5,000. Update: with shipping and fees, this price almost triples. Cheapest offset printing for single page, 8.5"x11" trifold pamphlets. Unit cost of $0.05 for 10,000. Update: Now the cheapest online booklet option. 16 pages full color booklets (no b/w option) are $0.30 per unit total cost in orders of 5,000. POD magazines. Currently only offer 8.5"x11" full-color mags for $0.20 per page + shipping, so not cost effective to hand out, but if you wanted just a handful of something, it's an option.

Updated: Take that back. Changed prices once I thought to include shipping prices. A local option would probably be better as David Rotor suggested.

comment by David_Rotor · 2009-04-11T15:40:37.002Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Costs can vary considerably between different printers for the same job. Here are some of the variables that go into an estimate you'll get:

  1. Design. Standard paper sizes with no cutting or trimming is less expensive.
  2. Utilization. If the printer has excess capacity, you can expect a lower cost
  3. Delivery time. Related to utilization, the longer you can wait for your job, the more opportunity the printer has to schedule it to maximize his utilization.
  4. Materials. More colours are more expensive. Heavier paper is more expensive. More than one type of paper is more expensive (glossy cover, plain pages, for example).
  5. Production equipment. Not really relevant for your job, but for more complex printing certain production processes are cheaper for certain jobs. As you would expect, each printer will gladly bid for work, even if they don't have the ideal equipment for a job.
  6. Binding. From lower cost to more expensive: Stapled, stapled and taped, cerlox, wire coil, perfect (glued).
  7. Competition. Getting more than one bid, and letting the printer know you are getting more than one bid. However, you also need to consider the printer's cost to bid against their internally perceived chance of winning the business. Two or three bidders is likely to be better than 10 or 12.

A very quick (two minute) google search turned up online bids around $1200/10,000 for an 8 page stapled and taped booklet. As this necessarily includes shipping, you should be able to find a local printer willing to do this job for under $1000 ... especially if you give them time.

Final suggestion ... university print shops often provide low cost printing for tenured professors.

And ... I agree with Roko's comments. I recommend a revision to take some of the more "proselytizing" tone out of the work. I like the light hearted tone of much of the material, but it often steps over the line and becomes condescending.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-04-11T15:41:59.262Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you include the link, please? Your google-fu must be stronger than mine.

comment by David_Rotor · 2009-04-11T15:43:58.677Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I found more than one ... this one was still up on my browser. Look for "booklet" rather than pamplet. Pamphlets are generally single folded pages.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-04-11T16:13:23.921Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah. Well, I need 16 pages total (which can be cover + 12 if I can print the inside cover) and that worked out here to around $2K/10,000 with saddle stitching (staple in the middle); I'm not sure if that ends up lying flat in large stacks.

comment by David_Rotor · 2009-04-11T15:54:17.772Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another suggestion ... design it as a tri-fold 11X17 page. 10,000 four colour glossy paper for about $1100 online. This format "stacks very nicely. Again, should be cheaper locally.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2009-04-12T10:26:24.656Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The current presentation uses 16 A6 pages ie 0.25 m^2 of page area, so that's about the same area as both sides of one 11x17 page. From that link, the lowest I can get the price for a run of 10,000 is about 17.5¢ each; colour on the outside is mandatory, and on the inside is free.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-04-12T14:45:55.367Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Today's fun fact I did not know: it's not about the same area it's exactly the same area.

But the whole point of this operation is (mostly) to get a flat binding.

comment by lukeprog · 2012-03-26T03:33:48.481Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Related: I.J. Good's (1971) "Twenty-Seven Principles of Rationality".

comment by Grognor · 2012-02-11T19:27:46.620Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A minimum order of 10,000 for $1000 would be quite acceptable - I expect at that price I could ship some boxes to other LWers.

Did this problem ever get solved? I was considering handing out Twelve Virtues pamphlets in meatspace (as I am wont to do elsewhere), but am burdened by the trivial inconveniences of not having a stapler or a printer.

I love the tags on this article.

comment by rhollerith_dot_com · 2013-11-16T08:35:18.581Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted for probable spam.

If you're not a spammer, reply to this and I'll reverse my downvote.

comment by GilM · 2009-04-12T07:12:27.623Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Does it all really have to be on paper?

Why not print a great one-page teaser that encourages those who are interested to visit the page, and site, online? Links are much easier to pass around to multiple people than paper.

comment by MichaelBishop · 2009-04-11T15:34:54.162Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Roko may be right, but if they were that cheap it would totally be worth buying some to give away.

comment by Roko · 2009-04-11T14:55:56.543Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The twelve virtues seems to me to be too religious in its tone. Yes, it contains a lot that is useful, but it is probably too mystical sounding to convince anyone.

I suspect that a very, very sober summary of the same ideas, with some citations to the literature would have more of the effect we are after. Something that sounded like it had been written as part of a competition between Nick Bostrom and Robin Hanson to see who could express facts in a more sober way.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-04-11T15:40:29.897Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You volunteering to write it?

What good is it to be convincing if you're forgotten? If I were writing about transhumanism, I would go for a Deep, Sober tone (just as Nick did with the WTA FAQ). Since transhumanism is silly, writing about it Soberly makes a startling contrast.

But rationality is already considered a serious subject; and so the 12V shows that it's possible to think about these matters in a different way than usual. The message is very clearly rationalist; the tone is not. You can go many places for dull, sober big words about rationality, and most rationalists will have already encountered them. Those who see something new in 12V may be inspired to check out the link on the back cover.

It's supposed to be strange. Strange gets attention. Strange sticks in the mind. Strange makes the truth memorable. Other suggestions are possible, I guess, but can the result be equally strange?

And: Promise that which you will deliver. 12V gives a pretty good idea of what happens to you if you start reading my other essays.

comment by Roko · 2009-04-12T00:31:16.104Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But rationality is already considered a serious subject; and so the 12V shows that it's possible to think about these matters in a different way than usual.

Well... a lot of what is being said on LW takes standard ideas much further than they are usually taken in the literature, as far as I know.

For example, the idea that you should use academic-strength decision theory to actually make decisions about everyday and real-life matters ("rationality is about winning"), that you should apply the same mental model to your day-to-day life as is applied to truthseeking in the sciences - that you should debias, do cost-benefit analyses, etc. These are not, to my knowledge, standard ideas. These are fairly frigging extreme in this perverse world. The idea that a scientist who applies careful experimental and statistical truthseeking techniques in her day job, and then goes home to relax to some comforting new-age or religious nonsense is doing something wrong is not a standard idea.

It's supposed to be strange. Strange gets attention. Strange sticks in the mind. Strange makes the truth memorable.

Strange will get attention... from the wrong crowd. We want to attract the most sober, most rational crew possible. Transhumanism/Singularitarianism in the hands of the sci-fi fringe is really not the way it should be, in my opinion. It's the clever normal people who are really worth persuading.

comment by SoullessAutomaton · 2009-04-11T16:18:27.258Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In other words... 12V is not about teaching rationality, it's about marketing rationality?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-04-11T16:38:42.827Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's about both, of course.

comment by Roko · 2009-04-12T00:32:12.115Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You volunteering to write it?

This sounds like an interesting task. It would probably do me a lot of good. Expect a top level post.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2009-04-12T01:03:46.474Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We could have a go at doing it on the wiki. I actually think Wikipedia articles often achieve a very readable tone.

comment by Roko · 2009-04-12T19:49:06.583Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, the tone of a wikipedia article would be close.

I think the correct tone is halfway between wikipedia and John Baez.

comment by SoullessAutomaton · 2009-04-11T15:12:25.469Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It depends on the target audience. For handing out at science fiction conventions, as Eliezer mentions, or for appealing to people with weak and poorly-considered beliefs in the supernatural, the mystical-sounding tone might work, while the Hanson-ish tone might just bore them into ignoring it.

For people who already fancy themselves scientific, rational-minded people the presentation would probably need to be different. i.e., if you wanted to "convert" to carefully considered rationalism a staunch atheist who rejected religion on largely emotional grounds yet thinks they're so much cleverer than those theists.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2009-04-11T15:13:21.700Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The twelve virtues seems to me to be too religious in its tone. Yes, it contains a lot that is useful, but it is probably too mystical sounding to convince anyone.

How could it possibly be seen as designed to convince? Then again, catching attention steers to that very path.

comment by CarlShulman · 2009-04-11T15:10:43.259Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I suspect this is so, but the fun of the existing document seems to have been attractive to a number of internet wanderers.

comment by lukelea · 2009-04-13T22:36:12.111Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What you want is Clickbooks, a $50 program that lets you impose documents into 8 page signatures which are 1/4th the size of standard letter-sized paper. It also converts to PDF which you can upload -- see here:

As a bonus, you can use it to print out long PDF files, owner's manuals for example, which would otherwise not be feasible. A 200 page documents requires 25 sheets of paper.

comment by mcook10128 · 2009-04-13T20:03:45.717Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Check out, it might work for you.

comment by jimrandomh · 2009-04-12T18:58:43.015Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is this article really about booklet printing, or was it an excuse to call attention to the Twelve Virtues article? If the latter, I think it would be better to just repost them directly.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2009-04-12T19:02:40.136Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's really about booklet printing.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2009-04-13T21:08:50.387Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Then it shouldn't have been promoted.