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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #6


Repeating that message to make sure it’s loud and clear and front and center. And having done so...

We had a medical emergency in the family which began to develop in mid-September, became a crisis in the last week of September, and has since evolved into something nasty, complex, and with longer-term implications than the doctors thought at first. Yesterday was my first day back in the RLP office in nearly three weeks.

As you might expect, there was a considerable stack of email waiting for my attention. It’s going to take me a few days to sort through it all and answer all the queries. Thank you for your patience.

—Bruce Bethke, Stupefying Stories  

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #5


If you’ve sent us a submission recently, you should by now have received our “acknowledgment of submission received” reply, which includes your manuscript tracking number. If you haven’t received our reply, please query, as it most likely means we never received your submission. In the past we’ve had writers wait patiently for ridiculously long periods of time, hoping to receive our reply to a submission we never received. We’d like to avoid that this time around.

If you have sent us a submission and have received the acknol email with tracking number, relax. With a few exceptions, every story that’s come in to us in this reading period is being tracked and is somewhere in the reading → evaluation → acceptance|rejection pipeline. The exceptions are a batch of stories that came in early in the reading period that were held over for multiple re-reads and further discussion—in some cases, a lot of further discussion—that we eventually decided to reject with critiques. I remember writing these critiques in early July, but have found out that some were never sent. I’m not sure exactly why this happened, but expect to have the submissions files audit finished and everything sorted out by next weekend.

One final note: this time around, we decided to collect and track some metrics and statistics we’ve never tracked before. One particularly interesting one is that in this reading period, we received, read, and evaluated roughly 2.7 million words of fiction.

No wonder three of our slush readers got burned-out and quit.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

It's Go Wide Week! (Annoucement #2)

Rampant Loon Press is exited to announce that Henry Vogel's critically acclaimed space opera trilogy, THE RECOGNITION RUN, THE RECOGNITION REJECTION, and THE RECOGNITION REVELATION, is now available on Rakuten Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook, and in the Apple iTunes store, at these links!



» On Apple Books

Personally, I love the way Apple Books processes the cover art to make it look like it's an actual photo of a hardcover book, with a spine crimp and drop shadows and everything, but unfortunately they won't let me snag the image and repost it here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

It's Go Wide Week! (Announcement #1)

Rampant Loon Press is excited to announce that Henry Vogel’s bestselling space opera trilogy, THE FUGITIVE HEIR, THE FUGITIVE PAIR, and THE FUGITIVE SNARE, is now available on Rakuten Kobo at these links!


Watch for lots more announcements are “Go Wide Week” continues and we roll out more books on more platforms!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #4

Twelve weeks into our 2019 reading period, things aren’t quite where I wanted them to be, but on the whole, I’m cautiously optimistic. New submissions continue to show up in an unsteady stream: we’ll see fifteen new stories one day and two the next. The weekends are particularly submissions-intensive. Thus far we’re mostly keeping up with the flow. As of this morning there are:
  • 29 stories either with a first reader or waiting to be assigned to a first reader
  • 19 stories waiting to be rejected (form)
  • 16 stories waiting for me to write a personal rejection
  • 12 stories waiting for me to send an acceptance letter
  • and here's the blockage: 65 stories in the holding tank, either with a second or third reader or in the “Well, do we buy it?” bin. Of these, 53 have been here more than 30 days, and 25 have been here more than 60. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Discovered entirely by accident...

...while trying to figure out why we can’t sell print books in Australia:

1. That Stupefying Stories #1 is now a valuable collector’s item selling for a ridiculous amount of money.


(Psst. We still have a crate of copies in the warehouse. Anyone want one?)

2. That Maverick is now a valuable collector’s item, which I guess makes a form of sense, as the Asimov estate recovered the rights to the Robot City books in the BPVP bankruptcy settlement and did so for the express purpose of taking them out of print, as they were “diluting the value of the Isaac Asimov™ brand.”


(Ignore the grumpy 3-star review written by someone who apparently was surprised to discover that these books were not written by Isaac Asimov, but were a YA series created with Asimov’s approval and written by a cadre of writers who were required to stick to a strict series bible. The lead characters were supposed to be petulant and childish. Didn’t this guy ever read any of Asimov’s “Paul French” novels?)

3. That Maverick was also released in French- and Spanish-language editions, neither of which I was ever paid for. Sigh. Too late now.

4. But this is the important thing I discovered; this review of Stupefying Stories #1, which I will gladly own.
Christopher O'Neil 
5.0 out of 5 stars
A lovely dead-tree volume
11 February 2018 - Published on
Verified Purchase
Just catching up with Stupefying Stories after their Kindle give-away stunt last week. Curiously, I HAD already read "It Came From the Slushpile" because as a fan of John Betancourt's Wildside Press, I'd read the two-fisted "Swashbuckling Editors Tales."

This two-column illustrated digest-sized hard copy is a delightful companion to my hundreds of the real pulps from the '40s, '50s, etc.; just a nice physical souvenir, considering the real mag is all ebook. If I ever meet him, maybe Bethke will autograph it "Rex Manly."
Why, warms my cold and leathery editor’s heart right up, it does. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #3

Six weeks into our 2019 reading period, we’ve settled down to a pretty consistent average of seven new submissions daily. Of these—

• 60% are first-round no-comment rejects, for any of a number of reasons.

• 10% are set aside waiting for me to write a personal rejection, because the story deserves more than just a “Thanks, but we can’t use this story at this time.”

• 5% are sitting in the Probably Accept bin, but we haven’t made the final final final decisions yet.

At some point I’ll start writing about the 60% and the 10%, because there’s much to be said about these stories and why we chose not to accept them that might be of value to other writers. Until there’s time to do that, though, here’s one quick hint: we reject stories, not writers. Just because one story you sent us got a quick form rejection, that doesn’t mean the next story you send us might not be exactly what we’re looking for.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #2

Three weeks into our 2019 reading period, things seem to be progressing nicely. Submissions slowed for a few days but then returned to their normal pace, and we’re still on-track to receive between 200 and 250 new stories this month. I’m pleased to report that thus far we’ve been getting every new submission received into the hands of a first reader within 48 hours, and getting through first-round reads and first-round decisions within seven days.

For about 65% of the stories we receive, the first-round is as far as they go. For a multitude of reasons these stories just aren’t what we’re looking for right now, so we’ll thank the authors kindly for giving us the opportunity to consider their story and wish them good luck placing it elsewhere. I’d love to be able to send each and every author a detailed explanation as to why we aren’t holding their story over for further consideration, but there simply isn’t the time.

The point I want to stress, though, is that every story submitted to us does get at least one full reading, and generally a first read and then a second skim as we discuss them in first-round triage. We have not yet succumbed to the temptation to reject a story based solely on the author’s cover letter alone—though there have been some close calls...

Thus far we have a small handful of clear BUYs in the hopper, a very few RFWs (requests for rewrites) pending, and a fair number of stories we’re holding over for a second or third re-read. We should begin sending out acceptances this weekend, and if all goes well the new SHOWCASE site should also go live this coming Saturday.

Stay tuned,

Monday, May 20, 2019

It’s like déjà vu all over again.

Funny, how fast things can change. Thursday morning everything was more or less under control and we were moving forward. Friday morning I woke up, poured myself a cup of coffee, opened up my laptop, checked my email—and wham. This.

Given that all our plans for Rampant Loon Press are based on the assumption that I will continue to be working here, and thus covered by our excellent employee medical insurance and benefits package, for years to come, this change is unsettling. What the exact effects will be remain to be seen. There are a tremendous number of known unknowns in play at the moment.

In any case, if I seem a bit distracted in the next few days or weeks, this is the form that Otogu the Insatiable, Devourer of Days, has chosen this time. Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Submissions and Slush Pile Update #1

Two weeks into our 2019 reading period, things are going about as expected. At the present daily rate we should receive between 250 and 300 new submissions this month. Of these stories, statistically, we’ll be able to buy and publish about 15. These aren’t hard numbers, mind you. They don’t take into account story length, and in fiction publishing, word count is a minor god who must be served.

Hmm. That would be an interesting metric, but we don’t begin to track story length until we get to third-round reads, when we’re starting to evaluate stories in light of how they would jigsaw together into an issue. I wonder if Katherine would revolt if I added word count to the submissions tracking system and asked her to start logging it for each new submission received?

Never mind that now. My point is that speaking statistically, every story that comes in here has a roughly one-in-twenty chance of making it all the way through to being accepted, and most will receive a no-comment form rejection. It’s nothing personal. It’s just the way the numbers work out.

How can you improve your odds? For us, reading slush is always an enlightening experience, somewhat akin to taking the pulse of writers as a collective. About fifty-percent of the stories that show up in our inbox are dead on arrival, usually because the writer failed to read our submission guidelines and sent us something we simply couldn’t use, no matter how objectively good it might be. For example, we are seeing a lot of horror—far more than we could ever possibly publish even if we were to stay in business for another twenty years.

...Out of time, more to follow tomorrow... 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

DemiCon 30 • After Action Report

We’re finally (mostly) recovered from spending the weekend at DemiCon 30, the Des Moines SF/F convention. This was sort of a trial run for us. Karen and I have been off the con circuit for quite a few years and are now beginning to ease back into it, starting with a few small regional cons. Many thanks to Amanda for inviting us and Amanda (the other one) for finding some nice slots for us in the programming!

I haven’t been to a DemiCon since—oh, before you were born. Given that this was “30,” my last DemiCon must have been one in the low single digits. Still, it was really nice to spend a little time with Joe and Gay Haldeman again. It’s been far too long.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Re Submissions

Here’s one more thing we’ll be adding to the Submission Guidelines ASAP:
Please do not send email with HUGE (multi-megabyte) attachments to our submissions email inbox. Such submissions just overflow the inbox, clog up the pipes, and end up being deleted unread. If we want to see your author’s photo in all its glorious 16MB hi-res beauty, we will ask for it after we’ve accepted your story and put it under contract, and then you’ll be directed to send it to a different mailbox.
In the meantime, if you’ve tried to send us a submission in the past 48 hours and gotten a “mailbox full” bounce-back message, be advised that we’ve located the source of the problem, plunged the pipes, and everything should be flowing freely again. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Rampant Loon Press Status Update • by Bruce Bethke

Hang on. This gets very personal.

Funny thing, how you can spend most of your life with someone and still wind up with very few photos of the two of you together. We have lots of photos of one of us in someplace interesting, doing something with one or more of the kids or grandkids. But photos of me and Karen together, in the same place, at the same time?

They’re pretty rare. 

I kind of like that one over there to the right → . It was shot last year by our friend Dan Christy, on some barren volcanic landscape somewhere in Iceland. It wasn’t quite the photo I was hoping to use today: that photo would have been the one shot as we were standing in front of Something-or-other-Foss—in Icelandic, “foss” means waterfall, which is why so many Icelandic place-names end in foss; the island is just loaded with waterfalls—and it was taken on a beautiful bright and sunny day, with a wonderful sort of rainbow bridge effect shimmering in the air behind us, because of the sunlight shining through the mist. Unfortunately the nice young lady who volunteered to snap the photo of us wasn’t completely solid on the operation of my phone’s camera, so that photo exists only in our memories of the moment, and to some small extent in the reflection in the left lens of her sunglasses...

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

State of the Loon

Eric here. So, you might be wondering what the heck is going on with Rampant Loon. There was a whole flurry of activity right around the end of last year with the publication of Stupefying Stories #22 in November and The Midnight Ground right around New Year’s. Incidentally, The Midnight Ground has gotten nearly universally positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads if you were on the fence about it.  There was talk of a new issue of Stupefying Stories on the near horizon and some new content formats, like a podcast. A new website was supposed to be unveiled. Unsolicited submissions were supposed to open up again in April. Books were in line for publication.

Obviously, none of that has happened in the intervening few months. There’s some behind the scenes things going on that have pushed back the calendar for all of those happenings. Without diving into all of the nitty-gritty, it basically boils down to the fact that Bruce works a full-time and sometimes more than full-time job. That is in addition to his duties as Cat Herder-in-Chief of all Rampant Loon projects. For my part, I work full-time and sometimes more than full-time as a freelance writer to support myself. I’m also getting ready to move in the very near future. That means that, despite all of our best intentions, the real world of work projects, deadlines, bills, and surviving-adult-life logistics got in the way.

With the exception of opening up unsolicited submissions in April, all of the things on the list above are still in play. Some of the behind the scenes things have resolved themselves already, others will resolve themselves within the next 3 or 4 weeks, and others remain stubbornly immune to a clear resolution timeframe. As the behind the scenes things resolve, though, you’ll start seeing more obvious movement and updates on all fronts.

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Quick Status Update

This is just a quick status update, for those wondering what’s been going on with Rampant Loon Press and Stupefying Stories. The short version is that in Real Work World the huge software release that was scheduled to go out on February 28 did ship on time, just barely, but by the end it turned into Project Deathmarch, and as of today I’m still cleaning up wreckage.

The long version requires much use of four-letter words, so I’ll spare you that.

Stupefying Stories #23 will release on April 1, come Hell or high water, and I’ll have more to say on that later, but not at this moment.

Finally, please note: we’ve decided to push up opening to new unsolicited submissions back to May 1, 2019, not April, as previously stated.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Book Release: THE MIDNIGHT GROUND, by Eric Dontigney

Just released:

THE MIDNIGHT GROUND, by Eric Dontigney. Available now for Kindle and also in trade paperback.

Kindle edition:


(The two pages are supposed to be cross-linked, but that hasn’t happened yet, because Amazon.)

Here’s the jacket copy: 
“As middleman to the magical community at large, Adrian Hartworth never sticks around. His nomadic lifestyle keeps him a step ahead of friends, enemies, and all too often, law enforcement. Then he saves Abby Simmons and her grandfather, only to find himself unofficially adopted into their unlucky family. Years of experience tell him that the cancer killing Abby is anything but natural. His instincts say flee.

“Driven by the guilt of a past filled with bad choices, Hartworth delves into Abby’s misfortunes and the town’s dark past. What he discovers lands him at the heart of a century-old battle against an evil he knows he cannot defeat. The man who never sticks around will face a choice: take a stand against a power that will crush him, or a leave a young girl to die and damn thousands in the process.”
On a purely personal note, I’m really proud of this one, not just because it’s our most ambitious and serious original novel to date, and not just because it’s a compelling read and an outstanding supernatural thriller, but because we actually hit our goals of having both the Kindle and paperback editions up and selling on Amazon on the planned release date, January 1st! Better yet, we’re already getting great reader reviews!
“Hartworth is a hero in the vein of John Constantine and Harry Dresden. This series combines the best of the two, with a fresh take on the magic-detective-thriller genre. And there’s a cat. Definitely worth the time!”
“Fabulous and compelling read. If you like Charlaine Harris’s Midnight Texas characters and town, you will enjoy this book!”
“A young girl caught in the crosshairs of a powerful evil. A lost practitioner finding redemption he didn’t know he needed. This is a book you won’t want to put down. Action-packed and full of heart-stopping exciting moments, I cannot wait to see what new adventure the next book takes me.”
“Adrian Hartworth, a man well-acquainted with the spirit world, stops for the night in a small town and can’t seem to leave. I couldn’t wait to see what happened next as Adrian struggles against powers beyond his comprehension and abilities as he tries to help a teenage girl who has had way more than her share of “bad luck.” This book is fast-paced and well written; now I’m looking forward to Adrian’s next adventure!”
“A broken hero, a cursed town, and impossible odds, along with top-notch world-building and gripping prose. Eric Dontigney knocks it out of the park, and I can’t wait to see where he goes with this series.”
THE MIDNIGHT GROUND, by Eric Dontigney. Available now for Kindle and in trade paperback.

Kindle edition:


Saturday, December 22, 2018

SHOWCASE is moving, too!

As part of the general restructuring of our web strategy, we’re delighted to report that as of January 1, SHOWCASE will be moving out of its mother’s basement and into a place of its own. The landlord isn’t quite finished with the repainting or the plumbing repairs yet, but the new site will be —which if you’re a long-time follower of Stupefying Stories is an address that may seem strangely familiar, for the very good reason that it is.

If you’re a new friend of Stupefying Stories, though, here are five outstanding and “seasonally appropriate” examples of the kinds of stories we’ve run in SHOWCASE in the past. Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2018


After nearly fourteen years of being hosted by blogspot, we’ve finally run into an insoluble problem. If you’ve come to this site via, none of the links to Amazon detail pages work anymore. If you’ve come to this site via, the links do work, but there are other problems, mostly having to do with how blogspot serves up web pages to mobile users, that effectively make the Amazon links functional but invisible to most users.

Given that the entire raison d'être for this web site is to encourage you to buy our books, this is, as you might imagine, something of a problem.

After doing a good deal of bouncing around between GoDaddy, Google, and Amazon, we’ve finally come to the conclusion that the best way to solve this problem is by getting off blogspot entirely and moving to a new web hosting service. Therefore, not this week, but soon, will have a completely new look and feel—and, we hope, proper functionality on mobile phones and tablets.

In the meantime, we’d like to remind you that STUPEFYING STORIES 22 is out on Amazon and ready to buy, in both Kindle and print editions, and it’s free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. These links should take you directly to your local incarnation of Amazon.

Kindle edition »
Print edition »

If all you get is a blank screen, though, please click your browser’s Back button, and then click this link and try again.


 Speaking of Kindle Unlimited...

Just a gentle reminder here that the following books are still free to KU subscribers, but will be dropping off KU and then released on other platforms at various times during the next 90 days.

Eminently Binge-Readable Novels by Henry Vogel 




We spent a small fortune on these audio books. Please buy ‘em!

THE FUGITIVE HEIR » Audible link
THE FUGITIVE PAIR »  Audible link


Saturday, December 15, 2018

SHOWCASE • “Market Futures,” by M. Ian Bell

Part Three

Previously, in Part One | Part Two
Two murder victims: a depraved old artist and a promising young schoolteacher. Plenty of people with a motive to kill the former but not the opportunity, but not one person with a grudge against the latter. Something must connect the two murders besides the unusual cause of death—but what?

Detective Ellouise Nielson has had some tough cases before, but this one is setting a new high bar...

And now, the chilling conclusion.

The slow drizzle of Tuesday night had erupted into a downpour by two o’clock, a steady thrumming on the roof, an irregular tapping of runoff on the air-conditioning unit in the living room window. Nielson slept fitfully and dreamed of the sodden and the drowned, an endless torrent that filled the streets and flooded the buildings. She awoke with the image of bodies floating, bloated and dead-eyed in the calm after the storm, and no one left to save them, to right the wrongs of their untimely ends.

And shaking and sweating and terrified in the darkness.

“Jesus Christ, Ellouise,” she said into the emptiness. “Get a hold of yourself.”

But as she showered, she could not help but feel that sensation of drowning, as if she were caught up in a storm that would see no end. Her conversation with Lamprey had left her optimistic, but in this grey, pre-dawn hour she felt more like she was losing control. She was suddenly convinced that what lay on the horizon was not an end to this nightmare but only more bodies.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Rampant Loon Press is now on twitter!

Who knew? You can now follow us on twitter, at

I really should pay more attention to what Eric is doing...

SHOWCASE • “Market Futures,” by M. Ian Bell

Part Two

Previously, in Part One
Two murder victims: a depraved old artist and a promising young schoolteacher. Plenty of people with motive to kill the former but not the opportunity, but not one person with a grudge against the latter. Something must connect the two murders besides the unusual cause of death—but what?

Detective Ellouise Nielson has had some tough cases before, but this one is setting a new high bar...

The detectives sat in the briefing room, elbows on the glass-topped table that doubled as dashboard. Sergeant Waterton tapped at the dash and pushed photos around into various combinations. He settled on the close-up of a young girl, dead in the eyes if such a thing could be rendered in oil paint, beside the driver’s license photo of Lisa Burrington. Anders watched as he tapped at the table.

“Tried that,” he said. “It’s in the report.”

“I read the report,” Waterton said. “Wanted to see it for myself.”

Dr. Sonia Ortiz was liaising as the precinct psychologist when the Bureau could spare her, and she entered the briefing room quietly. Nielson nodded as the door clicked shut behind her. Waterton kept his eyes on the photos and Anders kept his eyes on Waterton. After a moment, Ortiz cleared her throat.

“If you are considering a link between Friedemann’s paintings and the second victim, I might note that most of Friedemann’s women were dark-haired.”

Waterton turned back to the dashboard, nodding his head. He tapped at the menu and pulled up several more photos—the victims in life and in death—dates, times, locations, specimen analysis. The M.E.’s report and a map of the city highlighting residences and crime scenes.

“It would also be unusual,” Ortiz continued, “for the subjects of Friedemann’s paintings to be a possible connection to Ms. Burrington.”

Nielson leaned back in her chair. “Why do you say?”

Friday, December 7, 2018

STUPEFYING STORIES 22 • It’s really real!

The proof copy finally arrived last night. It looks GOOD!

Cover finish is nice and glossy, cover art printing is sharp and clear, colors are rendered correctly, binding and trim are perfect, and the interior text is clean and crisp. Even the interior illos turned out well—except for Mark Keigley’s author’s photo, but that was weird to begin with. But in sum, the finished book LOOKS REALLY GOOD! I even like the color and texture of the paper.

Whew. That’s a relief.

Now if only Amazon would link the listings for the print and Kindle editions. We’re working on that. 

As for those of you wondering why all the angst over this—especially you, Henry, and “Why not just use Vellum?”—it has to do with the crispness and clarity of the text on the page. I have a long background in print, going back to the days of actually casting lead type using a Linotype machine, and I can see the difference between 150 dpi and 300 dpi print. I find the soft, very slightly fuzzy appearance of most desktop publishing output to be fatiguing to read for long periods. By using the software and drivers I chose, I can get lossless PDF output at 600 dpi, and as nice a package as Vellum is, it seems no one makes a lossless PDF printer driver for Mac anymore.

Yeah, call me a perfectionist. Sometimes it's a virtue.

Going forward, the plan is to release all books simultaneously in print and ebook formats—though given the time-lag involved in getting Amazon to list print books, we’re going to have to re-juggle our book release schedule. We’ll also be putting our backlist out in print, going back to Stupefying Stories 15. Anything older than that is out-of-contract and out-of-print, though.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


We’re still waiting for the proof copy we ordered to show up.

We’ll be sending out contributor’s copies just as soon as we’ve confirmed that the print quality is acceptable. In the meantime, while we’re waiting, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you once again that SS#22 is out on Amazon and ready to buy. These links should take you directly to your local incarnation of Amazon.

Kindle edition »
Paperback »

Kindle Unlimited Subscribers: SS#22 will be free on KU through the end of February, 2019, after which we will be pulling it from KU and releasing it on Nook, iTunes, and as many other ebook platforms as we have access to at that time.

Speaking of Kindle Unlimited...

Just a gentle reminder here that the following books are still free to KU subscribers, but will be dropping off KU and then released on other platforms at various times during the next 90 days.


Eminently Binge-Readable Novels by Henry Vogel  





We spent a small fortune on these audio books. Please buy ‘em!

THE FUGITIVE HEIR » Audible link
THE FUGITIVE PAIR »  Audible link

A few observations about the print editions

We’ve worked with a number of POD printers and short-run print shops over the years: most were either too expensive, too haphazard when it came to the quality of the finished product, or both. We did THE RECOGNITION RUN series through IngramSpark Lightning Source, and while they delivered a good-quality book, our up-front costs were high.

We’ve done most of the rest of our print editions through CreateSpace, and have generally been happy with the results. Unfortunately, Amazon has shut down CreateSpace, and is pushing us to migrate all our books to Kindle Direct. STUPEFYING STORIES 22 is the first book that we’ve done through Kindle Direct, hence our hesitancy about the quality. One of the really good things about CreateSpace was that they let us order production-quality books before the book went live on Amazon, so that we could proof the thing and get contributor’s copies into the hands of authors well before the release date. Kindle Direct does not let us do that, hence the long lag time between when the book goes live on Amazon and when we can send contributor’s copies.

Our search for a good, reliable short-run print shop continues...