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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Print on Demand: Confessions of a Book Junkie Wandering the Printing Industry

I can't help it. It's a disease that runs in my family. My mother was the president of the library board, and my father read me Gods, Graves and Scholars when I was three.We kept books in the same quantities my mother kept gin and extra undies. The answer was simple. Are there more books? Then we need more books!




One of the odd things within our current financial world is the book out of print. I didn't believe it happened when I was a kid. A book was a book forever. You could always find it. It wasn't until Ms. Driscoll, my junior/senior English teacher sent us scattering to find a bunch of out of print 1920-50s plays that I even knew a book could go out of print. My mother, president of the library still at that point, hunted each of those books down. They might have been out of print but our library had them.


Now it's a constancy. Fabulous books go out of print. Buy it now. You may never see it again. Or you may find stacks of it at Books a Million. It's an unpleasant crap shoot.


Publishers make their most money out of the first flush sale. A book that is classic does not make the kind of cash a best seller does. It can't. And it will, unless someone protects it, go under. A new book itself is a huge investment for a company. They sensibly go for the main chance, and that limits what gets into print.


Enter into that the print on demand publisher. This is probably just one step above the company that will print your loving-hands-at-home book in a beautiful leather binder, and post it on their web site with other titles like My Amazing Life as a Hardware Salesman or How to Bronze Baby Shoes for Fun and Profit. Shall we say, it's a limited market.


But for the cost of upload, and printing a hundred books, you can print on demand. And post it on the major book sellers market. I've done it. More than once.
Why?
Because in the same way I crave books, I crave putting out books. I love working with a professional book company. I've done it before and I'll do it again if allowed. But for small books that I think people need, and that I need to put out, it's an answer.


Here's the rub. They always cost more, for you and for your reader. You're not having 15,000 run from China. Instead you're paying an American company for a much shorter run. And the wonderful wheels of promotion that every publishing company has will not roll out for you. It's all your own.


In the end, it's your consumers who decide if it's worth it. Is it worth a bit extra to have the book that wouldn't get published otherwise? 


So I've done it again. The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily is arriving today, according to ups. I'll start shipping them out to those who've ordered. We'll see if its a companion piece with the book on bronzing baby shoes.


The Town of Torper is a little cautionary tale about small towns, gardening standards, war and peace.You can order it at my site at www.ellenanneeddy.com.




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