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City Puppies Take Two

City Puppies by Nick Diana on

See exclusive photos and read our interview with "phodographer" Nick Diana, author of City Puppies. He’s back with a second edition of the book everyone Is barking about – all Seacoast dogs in full color. Clothing is optional in this cavalcade of canine characters.




This self-published book is based on the concept that everyone loves pictures of their own baby. Today, with pets replacing babies in many households, the question is – will you buy a book if your dog is in it? Nick Diana is betting you will.

Cover of first City Puppies book from Back Channel Press/SeacoastNH.comWe first saw City Puppies, Part One in a downtown hair salon. Rudy, a pug who lives in the salon, was pictured in the book. A year later the dog-eared copy is still in the waiting area and darned if we don’t flip through it every month – not just to see Rudy, but to scan the great shots of what we know are all local pets. The clear colorful photos are worth looking at, even if you don’t know any of the dogs personally.

We almost titled this article – City Puppies Do Number Two. That’s because Nick Diana is back. His sequel to City Puppies will appear in paperback, not hardcover, this time. It will cost less, and people whose posed pooches are portrayed must agree to buy at least one copy of the book. But is it possible that they will buy many more? And would you buy this book even if your pet is not pictured? Therein lies the potential genius of City Puppies.

We asked pet photographer Nick Diana to wag his own tale in the following exclusive interview.Click to see FIVE new and original photos from the second volume of City Puppies.

An interview with Nick Diana
Author of City Puppies

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Learn more about Back Channel Press
Where did your local dog book idea come from?

Nick Diana: I started dog walking in 2005, while I was bartending. There were these two dogs that really entered my life, so I began spending more than ample time with them; hikes, vacations, etc. All of my friends knew them too, and everyone loved them very much. When their owner took a job in another state, I created a book online with a compilation of all of the photos I had taken over the course of the two years we spent together. This book was very expensive, and I thought to myself, if this were cheaper, who wouldn't want a book containing their own dog to show off on their coffee table? City Puppies was born within the week.



Gwendolyn & Chloe by Nick Diana/
The first volume was intriguing and attractive. How did you distribute it?

Nick Diana: In addition to distributing it to the dog owners, I spent a few days walking around to local Portsmouth businesses to see if they would be interested in selling the book. Most agreed, and soon City Puppies was available at seven locations within the Seacoast area.
How is this book published? It's still rare to see short-run color books of this quality.

Nick Diana: The book gets published by the wonderful publishers, John and Nancy Grossman – of Back Channel Press. I networked for a long time until I connected with them, and when the idea was presented, they fell in love with it as much as I did. It was a good match, and they basically make this book possible. Nancy does all set-up, grammar, layout design, and adds her creativity. John is the master of photo editing and spends way too much time making each dog come alive, as well as dealing with all printing issues. Short run is definitely hard to do, especially with a hard cover, book, but this just means you need to find a printer that is cost-effective, a publisher that does not charge too much to make it feasible, and a product that is guaranteed to sell.



Ruby by Nick Diana /
You photograph the dogs for free. How do you make the book profitable?

Nick Diana: Well, I didn't do too much forecasting for the first book, so profit was not something that I had to deal with. I am starting to see positive numbers from the first edition, but they stagger in slowly and are very small numbers. However, to reach those positive numbers, I had to expand my product line, offering dog apparel, note pads, mouse pads, greeting cards, hats, etc. By doing this, I helped pay for all fees associated with the first edition.

With this second book, the price has dramatically been reduced from $35 to $20, due to a soft cover edition. This will definitely increase sales and make it more attractive to those business owners who passed on carrying the book because of its high cost. I am also offering an expanded product line again and require that people whose dogs are pictured must purchase at least one book. This was a hard decision, but to make it work, it is something that I had to realize needed to happen.



Ollie by Nick Diana from City Puppies/
Do most dog owners purchase copies?

Nick Diana: Most owner's purchase copies, but with the first edition there were about 12 owners that passed. What people don't seem to realize is that for me to print these books, I need to sell a lot in advance. If people purchase only one book before they get to see it, and plan on ordering many more afterwards, there might not be anymore because I was not able to afford the larger print quantity. Also, those people who wish to wait and get it in the stores face the same chance it may be sold out. It has helped with my requirement to purchase at least one book, but it would be nicer if people looked at my first edition and took the plunge for more books the first time around.
Can you offer a few tips on how you get such great photos of canines?

Nick Diana: This is really something I can't explain. I have always loved dogs and I feel that I connect with them because I love to play with them. It is almost like playing with a kid. I enjoy playing with these dogs -- and I think they can tell.



Bob and Sandy from City Puppies 2 by Nick Diana/
Are you expanding this concept outside the region? If so, how so?

Nick Diana: Streamlining the process has always been a concern of mine, and a necessary obstacle in order to stay organized and sane. The problem is finding someone to help me with advertising along the way, and being able to contact those pet businesses in towns where I plan to do another book. This will help draw in more customers. I’m afraid I have to keep those plans secret for now. I don't want to just give someone the key to sidestep all my hard work and experience.
Tell us about your background and photo experience.

Nick Diana: I have a bachelor's degree in business and marketing, I am an avid skier, snowboarder, painter, hiker, I love the outdoors, and I especially love dogs. I have always been surrounded by them, and I have always wanted to run my own business. One day I spent an afternoon in a book store and sat in the business section reading random books about starting a small business and which business to choose. One advised -- look at all that you love in your life, then make a list of the different businesses you can start. then think of ways to make them unique. City puppies was born shortly after.

My photography experience is definitely amateur, but I am still learning. The thing that makes these photos so beautiful is not my picture, but rather the dogs that are in them.



Ralphie from City Puppies II by Nick Diana/
Is the book offered in stores?

Nick Diana: The book will be offered in stores, however, the list of stores is not available yet, as I do most of my sales when I have the item in my hand. It is much easier to sell when buyers can see the product. They will be out in stores within a week of me receiving them, which should be around the second week in December. All information will be listed on my Web site.
What about your dog, Nick?

Nick Diana: I don't have a dog, yet. I am only 27, and even though there are many people my age and younger with dogs, I feel that you have to really be committed to it, and ready to "settle down" a bit, before you make the decision to bring an animal into your life. This is not true for all animals, but I feel dogs need more attention, and they definitely cost more to keep healthy. When I am ready I will know it. I am still traveling and who knows where City Puppies is going to take me?

Interview copyright © 2006 by All rights reserved. All photos copyright Nick Diana.

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