27 June 2010

POD and the Back Catalogue

Ever since I learned about print on demand (and well before I became involoved), I have been very excited by the concept. Many of my favourite books and authors have gone out of print, leaving me scouring 2nd hand stores. Not that I have a problem with that; lots of my best finds come from there and I like them more than retailers. But I had often thought "I wish I could just order this instead of spending months or years looking for it."

Enter POD. Simply put, print on demand works like this: a customer browses a catalogue or otherwise requests a book. Currently, a retailer then orders the book, it gets printed and shipped, and the reader receives a brand-new copy of whatever they wanted. Then there's the Expresso Book Machine - a modified copier-like device - which takes an electronic file of the book block and covers, prints and binds it, and delivers a completed edition. This machine does books one at a time rather than runn print runs. Several universities are in possession of the EBM but, eventually, the EBM may be standard equipment for any bricks and mortar store. Imagine a retailer which has eliminated pallet-loads of titles for a single copy. Your book would be manufactured while you waited!

More importantly, there's all the back catalogues. Publishers will not re-issue a title unless there is a sudden interest to justify the print runs (such as The Silmarillion, after The Lord of the Rings movies). Mostly, excellent books fade into obscurity because there isn't a demand for thousands of copies. But there could be demand for hundreds of copies, one at a time.

For me, the biggest challange is finding Mack Reynolds' books. Mack wrote a narrow offshoot of sci-fi - social fiction - from the 50's to his death in the 80's. He has well over a hundred titles to his credit, most published by the defunct ACE Science Fiction, all out of print. I really like his work and I would love to be able to walk into a retailer and buy a new copy. I'd probably buy one every week until I had them all!

POD will make this possible and I, for one, cannot wait!

12 June 2010

Penguin boss accused of sexual harassment

04 June 2010

True patriot love? Or cowardice in the face of the enemy?