She said I’d be better off going with their ‘Premier Publication’ package – leave the decisions to the experts. For instance, had I taken into account: edge determination, modulation, minimum reflectance? Had I considered DataGlyphs, weighed up the advantages of continuous over discrete, closed system over interleaved? And what was my checksum determinant?

I thought you were just sent the barcode automatically. I didn’t realise there were so many… factors, so many choices to be considered.

That’s where a lot of people stumble, she added. Even before you’ve turned the first page you can see they’ve f***ed things up, down in the bottom left or bottom right corner, back cover. And though your average person won’t consciously notice it, they’ll know something doesn’t feel right. And so they’ll put the book down, move on. You don’t want that? I didn’t.

And the great thing about the ‘Premier’: it covers everything, even has barcode insurance bundled in as standard. That comes with £200,000 legal cover, a writ of inviolability, and you get to choose the first three numbers. It sounded very attractive.

It is! She’d published twelve novels herself, plus four ‘how to’ books – and so she now knew  – not just thought, or believed – that if you get the barcode right all the rest falls into place. And don’t your stories deserve the best?

I knew one or two of them didn’t, but I said yes. And, on reflection, it’s comforting to know that the chances of me being successfully sued over my barcode are now very, very slim.

 

by Paul Tarragó

Paul Tarragó is an experimental filmmaker and writer living in London. Recent writings appear in The Wrong Quarterly, 2HB, decomP magazinE, Leopardskin and Limes, and Ink, sweat and tears. His most recent short story collection is ‘The Water Rabbits’ (2018). Before that came ‘The Mascot Moth and several other pieces’ (2013). Both are available from both good and bad booksellers.

 

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