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POD and Ebooks

I’ve been thinking about options for making some of my out of print novels available again. There’s still some hope I can get a mainstream publisher to reissue the four books in my Ware series, but my other out of print books are more problematic. I’m thinking of Spacetime Donuts and The Sex Sphere in particular, and maybe eventually The Secret of Life, which is available only in ebook form.

I can’t presently find any small press willing to republish them in the usual manner (printing books and selling them in book stores), so I’ve been looking at some other options. The first set of options revolves around the print-on-demand route, also known as POD. The tech is now at the point where you can store a clean Adobe PDF file of your book and cover somewhere in the Web, and an unseen giant machine (plus staff) somewhere else can print and mail individual copies as orders trickle in.

Perhaps the simplest route to POD is to sell facsimile editions, which resemble bound Xerox copies of your book. A published author can do this via the Authors Guild Back-In-Print program. You send them one of your out-of-print books, they rip it apart and scan it, and the iUniverse POD publisher prints and mails off nicely bound copies on demand, with the books marked as “An Authors Guild backinprint.com edition.” I haven’t seen these books, but have in the past seen (other companies’) facsimile editions that are a bit smeary-looking, or kind of light gray, with broken letters — the inexpensive “classic library” books you seen on bargain racks in stores are usually facsimile editions. But I understand the Authors Guild boods are printed on nice paper and with a color cover. The books’ prices depend on page count, a 200 page novel might go for $15. The cost to the author: you have to pay $90 a year in dues to be in the Authors Guild, which could be severe if you have to keep this up year after year.


[Most of today’s pix are left over from the Big Sur trip — what a contrast between these images and today’s subject matter, sigh…]

The other routes to POD involve (a) scanning the book, (b) running some optical character recognition software (OCR) to get an electronic file such as a Microsoft Word file, then (c) using a tool like Adobe InDesign (or just Word) to design a book which you save as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

There are two ways to do this. Either you turn this work over to a specialized company, or you do it yourself (DIY).

On the turn-it-over front, I like the looks of E-Reads , a specialized company reissuing books (including SF novels) in both POD and in ebook formats. A nice thing about E-Reads is that they have a real SF editor working there, in the person of John Douglas (who edited my books Freeware, The Hollow Earth, and The Hacker and the Ants at Avon). E-Reads publishes ebooks as well as POD books, and I see their ebook editions listed on Amazon in the Kindle format,as well as for sale on their site. E-Reads does not make every single one of their books available in POD format. One of their books might typically list at about $17 with a royalty to the author of about $2.

There’s a newer publisher getting into POD reprints of SF books as well, ARC Manor, and they also seem like a good outfit. By the way “ARC” is short for “high speed Electro-Arc Printer” which is how POD books are made. Like other POD publishers, they farm out this printing to a superbig company like Ingram’s LSI service (More about LSI below). Their philosophy is to keep the book prices down in order to up the numbers sold. One of their books might typically list at about $10 with a royalty to the author of about $1.

On the DIY POD (do-it-yourself print-on-demand) front, carrying out the scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) process is bound to be time-consuming, but not devoid of geekly interest. I haven’t done a test run yet.

To start with, I’d tear the books up and scan them into PDF files at 300 dpi. I’m about to get a new copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.0, which supposedly has decent OCR. Otherwise I might need to buy the Omnipage OCR ware for $100. In principle you can do OCR on scanned TIFF files with Microsoft Document Imaging, but I don’t think I’d want to do a whole book that way.

Once I get the text in electronic form, I’d get my designer-pro daughter Georgia to help with the InDesign creation of a book PDF. Most of all, I’d like to make paintings for the covers, as POD books otherwise tend to have rather generic public-domain cover art.

As for DIY POD distribution, I learned about some possibilities via a Make #12 article “Book Yourself” by Kevin Kelly. The basic idea is that you send a print-ready Adobe Acrobat PDF file for the book and its cover to a POD printing company, and let them fulfill your orders and send you your cut.

The DIY POD printer company I’ve looked at most is Lulu. For about $100 you can get an international standard book number (ISBN) that gets your book listed on Amazon and similar databases, also your book can be in the databases of libraries. When you buy the ISBN, you can select your own publisher name, like Big Pig Press or whatever. You can terminate your relationship with Lulu anytime.

The retail price for a Lulu book goes like this. Say you want a 6” x 9” perfect bound (stack of pages glued at the spine in the usual fashion) black and white (with color cover) 175 page trade paperback—Lulu charges $5.00 to print it, I add on $2 for royalties, Lulu charges a fourth of my royalties $0.50, making $7.50, and a retailer adds on a little over half of that for themselves, say $3.50, so Amazon might list the book at $15 and discount it to $12.

Amazon has their own DIY POD printing company called BookSurge. They pay you 35% of the sale price of books that they themselves sell, and you can terminate the contract with 30 days notice. You send them a print-ready PDF file, and the books sell for about $15. So far as I can tell, the minimum startup charge to the author is $299. The core business of BookSurge seems to that of a vanity press, meaning that they want to sell their authors a wide range of editing and promotional packages; this is also the case with LuLu. But, again, you can put your own publisher name on the book.

For their own POD printing, many publishers use Lightning Source, Inc. (LSI) which is a division of Ingram, one of the larger book wholesalers in North America. In principle an individual can use LSI — by becoming a publisher — here’s a page discussing LSI and Lulu. I registered here, and a polite lady called me back from LSI, and said they’d be willing to produce my books. The LSI registration fee (includes getting an ISBN and so on) per book is something like $105, with the understanding that you’re sending in a completely finished PDF file for book and cover.

What about electronic book publication? Only three of my books are available as electronic books:

(1) Spaceland, electronic version from Tor, available on Diesel (about $10), eBookMall (about $11), or Fictionwise (about $10), in each case, formatted for the secure eReader (which can run on a wide range of handheld or desktop devices). Also available in the Amazon Kindle format (about $9).

(2) The Secret of Life, electronic version from ElectricStory, available on Diesel (in Mobipocket or MS Reader formats) (about $6) or the ElectricStory site (about $7), also available as a Kindle edition from Amazon (about $6)

(3) Postsingular, Creative Commons version permitted by Tor Books, available on my Postsingular site or on ManyBooks in unencrypted text, HTML, PDF, and other forms. Price: free.

Except for a very few megaellers at the high end of the power-law curve, marketing ebooks has thus far been pretty much a waste of time. My Spaceland from Tor has sold only a few dozen copies, while, over seven years, my The Secret of Life from ElectricStory has sold less than a hundred copies, even though no paperback edition ever appeared.

The fact that about 30,000 people downloaded my free ebook version of Postsingular shows me that people are willing to read books on computers…but, at least a present, they aren’t willing to pay for them.

Will the easy-on-the-eyes e-ink devices like Kindle change this? Maybe in 5 or 10 years, but for now, for most authors, selling ebooks is likely to be less profitable than selling POD books.

A different angle is to simply give the ebooks away, and think of your POD book a cost-effective printing service that people can use.

Cory Doctorow — who inspired me to do the Creative Commons release of Postsingular — argues passionately against encrypted ebooks and for making ebooks free.

If you’re living way the hell out on the long tail, why not get a few bucks from the rare passers-by? Yes, says Cory, but you can’t get money selling ebooks. Focus on the POD.

It’s worth making the distinction between an unencrypted “multiformat” ebook and the encrypted “secure” format with digital rights management (DRM). DRM is widely believed to be a Bad Thing, as it can make your ebook hard to read.

I tend to agree with Cory that DRM is such a big hassle that it’s not worth doing. But, this said, could there ever be a middle way between free ebooks and DRM ebooks, this would be selling ebooks in an unencrypted multiformat mode?

Unencrypted multiformat editions are less hassle to read, and, as a practical matter, it’s easier to create them than to create DRM ebooks. Yes, there’s some danger of people buying an unencrypted ebook and then giving out copies to their friends — but that’s a familiar kind of risk, and there are of course laws against doing this.

How hard is it to convert a book into an ebook? I’ve heard one editor say that conversion to ebooks costs considerably more than they recoup per book — and that may have been true five or ten years ago, but it’s hard to see why that would be the case anymore. Could it be that it costs a lot of money to get the codes to put DRM on a file? If that’s the case, it’s just another reason to deep-six DRM. But maybe the editor was just talking about adminstrative overhead…internally billable budget hours. In any case, the nub of hte problem is still this: ebooks only sell dozens of copies, so why bother?

In making the free version of Postsingular, I got the PDF file for the book from the publisher, used Acrobat Pro to save it as an RTF text file, munged that in Word until it looked nice, then saved that as a PDF file, as an HTML file, and as a text TXT file. It took me maybe two hours, tops.

But if you want a whole range of formats, like for Mobipocket, Microsoft Reader, and the Ereader, then you need to do some more conversion work. Here’s a wiki that discusses ebook conversion.

Once you have your book in some ebook formats, how would you distribute it for sale?

If you wanted to sell ebooks in a DIY fashion, you could post them for sale at a pay-per-download site like PayLoadz. But probably hardly anyone would find your book there.

If you can pass yourself off as a publisher, you might get the ebook listed by Ingram’s electronic end of things, Lightning Source. So far as I can tell, it appears that all a publisher has to do is send them a file for the book and pay $12 per year per title to have it be an ebook. I’m guessing that LSI has the ebook conversion process automated and you just send them maybe the official PDF file plus an electronic text RTF file and/or maybe an unformatted ASCII file and they can spew out the other formats (like MS Reader and Palm) on demand. But I’m not sure about this; you have to register with LSI as a publisher to get info about how this works — if I succeed in doing this, I’ll post what I learn.

Another approach would to send a PDF image of your ebook to Amazon Kindle, who will encrypt it for their Kindle reader. You have to make a Kindle account and sign in to look at the info about how this works; so far as I can tell they want exclusive e-book rights.

Yet again, youmight approach the behemoth ebook sellerFictionwise — although they want at least ten (!) books as electronic RTF files, and they want exclusive rights to sell the ebooks.

I’m lost and I’m groping my way. But I like being lost. Kind of. The purpose of this blog entry (which I keep revising) is to organize my thoughts and assemble some links. Feel free to comment with your two cents worth…

19 Responses to “POD and Ebooks”

  1. Jeffrey Kegler Says:

    Amazon owns another POD outlet: Createspace. It’s a cheap, no-frills way to get onto Amazon. You have to prepare your own PDF. It’s non-exclusive. You can do both Lulu.com and Createspace/Amazon, and in fact I do.

    Here’s the links for my book (a novel based on Kurt Gödel’s proof of God’s existence, and very heavily influenced by your work, especially the wonderful _Infinity and the Mind_, which I highly recommend to everyone):

    On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/God-Proof-Jeffrey-Kegler/dp/1434807355.
    On Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/content/933192

    On Lulu, my book can be downloaded for free.
    Here’s the link for Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/

    The PDF I did myself using open source software (TeX and various converters).

  2. Vanderleun Says:

    Doctorow’s right about this.

    You also might want to check in on Kelly at

    http://kk.org/ct2/2008/03/results-from-an-experiment-in.php

  3. glenn branca Says:

    Here’s my 2 cents: talk to Charles Stross.
    And for 3 more cents I’ll tell you that my book collection
    is starting to look like a big pile of old Sunday Times.
    IE: worthless and taking up a lot of valuable space.

  4. Sarah Says:

    If you end up OCR-ing any of your books for e-publication, re-release or what-have-you, I will gladly offer my services as a proofreader in return for a free copy or two, even if the copies are being distributed for free. Let me know. (I’m Gus’ friend who drove out from Portland for Gus & Isabel’s wedding.)

  5. Alex Says:

    I’d buy your re-published books for sure.

    Give them a new introduction or afterword as a bonus.

    Make sure they look as professional as possible,
    with barcodes, ISBN numbers etc.
    Big bold title, good cover illustrations.

    So many of those books on lulu look woefully amateurish.

    Another option, would be to get them printed yourself, say 100 at a time
    and sell them from your most excellent website. Just set up a Paypal or Google (or both) shopping cart.

  6. Jonathan Trainham Says:

    What if the universe is a planet and we are nothing more than sub-atomic particles?? What if the galaxies exsist on one half of the planet and on the other half it’s completely black because of a Big Black Hole, what if the infinite gravity of the Big black Hole sucked up all the stray matter of the universe and light and what if at the end of the vortex of the Big Black Hole resides heaven and nirvana, what if the matter of souls and other universe debris was a ring spinning in lock step with heaven, what if the matter in the ring, also what if the ring was nirvana and what if heaven is the true resting place when our soul-matter falls like rain to heaven, what if the reason for heaven being seen as so bright is due to the stray rays of light that get absorbed into heaven through its gravitational force, what if god is the energies that make up heaven, what if god isn’t a man without a face but a collection of energy that strobes across heaven, what if when we die all our energy points collect at the center of our bodies and become a manifested soul that jumps into a quantum wormhole that traverses through the universe at hyper-light-speed, dropping soul-dust onto other planets stars, etc. what if that is the real reason behind rebirth and reincarnation, what if souls recorded encrypted data that only psychics can decode and hack into what if our whole perception of religion and the universe is obscured or wrong, what if???

  7. Rudy Says:

    Heavy thought, Jonathan. But I’d rather keep the comments on this thread to matters concerning POD and ebooks.

    I’m really groping here. I have a sense that the old publishing paradigm is on its way down the toilet…which is why I think more and more about staring my own press and doing my reprints myself. Then I could keep the costs per book down. And it’s nice not to go hat in hand to a publisher…

    That’s why I started my own SF webzine FLURB! If I had my own press, I could maybe reissue Wm. Craddock’s BE NOT CONTENT, too…

    My current sense of reprints of old SF books is that ebooks are really a waste of time, and one might as well go the Doctorow route: give away the ebooks and offer the POD as, basically, a cheap printing service for those who want hard copies of your old books.

    Something working in my favor if I were to start a press is that my daughter Georgia is a professional graphic designer http://www.grfix.com, and my son Rudy runs an internet service provider http://www.monkeybrains.net So I can get design and web space without great expense.

    I’m working on painting a cover for SPACETIME DONUTS today.

  8. Rudy Says:

    Borders Books may be sold. Another sign of change in publishing. At present Borders is the single largest seller of reprint SF novels. Might a new chain owner drop reprints to make yet more space for greeting cards and coffee mugs?

  9. Cory Doctorow Says:

    I think you have several different problems:

    1. Producing ebooks from older books for which you lack digital files

    2. Turning the ebooks into decent page-layouts that can be sent to a POD press

    3. Finding a POD printer

    4. Promoting the POD books

    1. Producing ebooks from older books for which you lack digital files

    Scribd has a new deal whereby they’ll turn any pile of paper that you’re willing to CC license into a digital, OCR’ed page. Theoretically, there’s a long wait, but you might talk to them about getting priority, given your profile.

    2. Turning the ebooks into decent page-layouts that can be sent to a POD press

    This is a reader competition if ever I saw one. Put the word out, put up a painting or two as a prize and see who’ll typeset for you the best.

    3. Finding a POD printer

    I’m more of a Lulu than Amazon man here. The big downside of Lulu is…no Amazon distribution. That means that someone who does an author-search on AMZN won’t see your books. It also means that bloggers can’t get AMZN affiliate $$ from copies of your books.

    OTOH, as Damon Knight used to say, “Money flows towards the writer.” Spending upfront dough to put your books back into print sucks.

    OTOH — reader contest! Run polls, ask your readers to put up dough for the setup costs, put everyone who donates into the acknowledgments and offer them exclusive access to a little limited edition chapbook you run off at your local copyshop.

    4. Promoting the POD books

    CC licenses. Solicit donations for the ebooks from people who don’t want to buy the PODs. Put ’em in your next Tor book.

    (PS: Isabel sent us the prototype for our wedding ring today and IT IS SO FREAKING COOL!)

  10. Steve H Says:

    Rudy, I OCD my books. Am I doing it wrong?

  11. Kelson Says:

    I can’t wait to see the painting for SPACETIME DONUTS! I love that story. My copy has seen better days, and I don’t think it was printed on acid-free paper, as it’s pretty durn yellow. So it sits on the more shaded bookshelf. Having a new copy for re-reading purposes would be great! Plus, books are the main gift I like to give to people.

    Soooo, I like paper. Don’t get me wrong. Ebooks seem really cool. I love Flurb! But my eyes really love print. And the rest of me loves being able to put a paperback in my coat pocket and just zooming off somewhere to read. Someday I’m sure there will be a Kindle that’s just right. I don’t think it’s here yet, though.

    So, I guess whatever it takes to get these works on paper is what I’ll get behind. It looks like Cory sketched out most of this particular hydra’s characteristics. And shoot, the timing might be just right with all these rebate checks flowing from the guvment this summer, eh?

  12. Charles Platt Says:

    I actually published a book through POD, it was called Loose Canon and was a loose gathering of all my canonical (get it?) opinion pieces and reviews. I hoped a few libraries might buy it, but of course they didn’t. I think I sold maybe 10 copies.

    I think POD is hopeless unless you are able to promote yourself very heavily.

    I’d rather offer half a PDF file for free download and charge for downloading the other half. That would be an interesting experiment, with his huge readership. But I have this sneaking feeling that no one would actually pay for the second half, and then I would be really depressed.

    I tend to think that writing is going to go through a kind of Golden Dark Age, golden in that everything ever written will be available free, dark in that no one new will be learning “the craft” with any diligence and the supply of new text will degenerate to a huge mass of half-baked commentary. After 50 to 100 years, maybe writing will re-emerge somehow as a fine art.

    See, so long as there were gatekeepers (editors) restricting access to the means of publishing, writers had to compete to satisfy the editors, who coudl enforce standards. Also there was the incentive to get paid. But if there are no gatekeepers anymore, you end up with something so egalitarian, writing will degenerate to the textual equivalent of travel photos and videos of a cat playing the piano. I see nothing that can be done about this, and I think you should follow Microsoft’s example when Bill G suddenly understood the Net: “We will recognize existing standards and extend them.” I think we have no other choice alas.

    Of course niche publishing for eccentrics who like to buy books will still exist, just the same as oil lamps still exist for people in cabins who don’t like the purple color of battery-powered white LEDs, and logs still exist for people who like to watch burning wood instead of enjoying the silent comfort of forced air heating. But niche-anything has never interested me much.

  13. Rudy Says:

    Bad news for POD publishing: Amazon wants ALL the business for their pricy in-house POD service BookSurge!!!

    If Amazon won’t back down, one solution may be to sell one’s POD book via multiple printing services, e.g. LSI from your own site, and BookSurge from Amazon. A pain.

    Here’s the info from the Author’s Guild:

    =======

    “Amazon Tightens Grip on Long Tail”

    Last week Amazon announced that it would be requiring that all books that it sells that are produced through on-demand means be printed by BookSurge, their in-house on-demand printer/publisher. Amazon pitched this as a customer service matter, a means for more speedily delivering print-on-demand books and allowing for the bundling of shipments with other items purchased at the same time from Amazon. It also put a bit of an environmental spin on the move — claiming less transportation fuel is used (this is unlikely, but that’s another story) when all items are shipped directly from Amazon.

    We, and many others, think something else is afoot. Ingram Industries’ Lightning Source is currently the dominant printer for on-demand titles, and they appear to be quite efficient at their task. They ship on-demand titles shortly after they are ordered through Amazon directly to the customer. It’s a nice business for Ingram, since they get a percentage of the sales and a printing fee for every on-demand book they ship. Amazon would be foolish not to covet that business.

    What’s the rub? Once Amazon owns the supply chain, it has effective control of much of the “long tail” of publishing — the enormous number of titles that sell in low volumes but which, in aggregate, make a lot of money for the aggregator. Since Amazon has a firm grip on the retailing of these books (it’s uneconomic for physical book stores to stock many of these titles), owning the supply chain would allow it to easily increase its profit margins on these books: it need only insist on buying at a deeper discount — or it can choose to charge more for its printing of the books — to increase its profits. Most publishers could do little but grumble and comply.

    We suspect this maneuver by Amazon is far more about profit margin than it is about customer service or fossil fuels. The potential big losers (other than Ingram) if Amazon does impose greater discounts on the industry, are authors — since many are paid for on-demand sales based on the publisher’s gross revenues — and publishers.

    We’re reviewing the antitrust and other legal implications of Amazon’s bold move. If you have any information on this matter that you think could be helpful to us, please call us at (212) 563-5904 and ask for the legal services department, or send an e-mail to staff@authorsguild.org.

    Feel free to post or forward this message in its entirety.

    ———————–

    Copyright 2008, The Authors Guild. The Authors Guild (www.authorsguild.org) is the nation’s largest society of published book authors.

  14. Ahmed A. Khan Says:

    Have you looked into the Anthology Builder project started by Nancy Fulda? The website is at http://www.anthologybuilder.com. You can submit your novel there and it will be available for purchase (POD basis) at $15.00. You yourself will earn about $1.50 per sale. Not much money, but the upside is that it does not cost you and it is headache free.

  15. Jack Says:

    There are pros and cons to the ebook, certainly. It would make your book more marketable globally, plus it is easy to arrange with a print-ready PDF file.
    But a print book can be taken places an ebook can’t, like to beaches or on planes. There also are a lot of decisions to be made regarding copy protection, and online delivery options. Some give the ebook away in the belief the ebook will help sell the print book, but I am not comfortable with that myself. I have put my book for sale in Amazon.com’s Kindle format. This may be an option for you if you can get a decent conversion to Kindle format from your text file. It would put your book on the market in the U.S. and it is free to submit. Here I am http://www.kindleconversion.com

  16. Alex Says:

    I hope someone is still monitoring this thread. I have recently gotten interested in the publishing end of the books I read with the purchase of a Kindle. For a long time I downloaded PDF publications, short stories or novels in addition to purchasing regular books. I bought the Kindle unsure of the availability of the often quirky subjects I like to read as well as old or out of print material. And so far I have been right. Again and again, I run into walls looking for desired books on Kindle. So, I turn to other ebook publishers only to find the same titles lacking or some sort of proprietary encryption/DRM that eliminated Kindle usage for that title. I want to find books as straight PDF downloads, easily convertible to Kindle as well as (relatively) easily readable on a computer. DRM is a pain in the ass and I won’t bother with it, not because I want to make a million copies for my friends, but because I want it to be easy. I’m already buying Kindle versions of some books I will never reread, be able to give away or sell. So what? One less trip to the used book store where I get next to nothing for it anyway.

    I understand an author’s reluctance to release their work in a format that can be endlessly reproduced, but if old titles are selling in the low double digits yearly like Mr. Rucker is saying, why not just release it for cheap through some sort of direct download? What I have little or no understanding of is whether the author has the right to do it, or is this prohibited by some publishing contract? I don’t understand why an author would not have an electronic copy of a book he or she wrote. I assume it is because books are surrendered to publishers where they are edited and rearranged and the author never sees an electronic version of the final product.

    I’m reading Postsingular right now, downloaded in Kindle format from ManyBooks.net, and I’m enjoying it. I like it enough that I ended up here from looking for more books by Rudy Rucker. Reading this, it really dismays me to see authors getting so little for their work. And I would be willing to pay to read “The Hollow Earth,” or “The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul” electronically, if I could get those titles in an open format. I’d be more willing if I thought the author actually got more than soda money off the purchase. I want to think of acquiring books in the same way I think of going to the used book store. …$3 for this, $4 for that. Got a little reading material… Can’t I just buy them electronically from the author?

  17. Rudy Says:

    Hi Alex, I still think about POD and ebooks a certain amount. It’s all very much in flux.

    I did publish a POD book this winter, an art book of my paintings called BETTER WORLDS…I think I’ve sold about 30 copies. In a way, this is okay, as it cost me zero, nada, $0.00, to create the book file (as a PDF) and to post it on Lulu—and I was happy to be able to buy a few copies of the book to hand out as Christmas gifts. I didn’t bother getting an ISDN code for this book, so it’s not on Amazon.

    And E-Reads published my out of print books THE SEX SPHERE and SPACETIME DONUTS as POD editions and as PDF-style e-books. They haven’t made Kindle versions yet, but the PODs are available on Amazon.

    Yeah, it sucks that it’s not simple to read PDF on Kindle.

    If I were to republish more out of print or unplaceable books of mine as POD and e-book, I might just do it myself—I went with E-Reads because I didn’t want to deal with scanning the old paperbacks into electronic files, or with buying an ISDN code and getting the books on Amazon.

    The ISDN and Amazon thing isn’t that hard to do on your own, though, and it only costs you about a hudnred bucks per book, maybe less.

    Re. scanning, I’ve learned that, in general, any of my books that’s appeared can be found somewhere online as an electronic pirate edition…I’m not sure where exactly, but I guess I could find out. I garnered this info from Sean Wallace, who’s going to reissue an omnibus “real” (that is, not POD) edition of my four WARE novels in 2010. When I asked him about scanning my old books into files he said that some of my…call them fans…had already done that work.

    As for getting your fully edited electronic files of new books from your publishers, that takes a bit of work. As you mention, it is always an issue that you don’t actually have the final version in electronic form, as a lot of the final corrections are made by hand.

    Two issues come up. First of all, the publishers don’t really like to give you the files, but if you beg, and are lucky, you can eventually get a PDF of your new book from the publisher. Second of all, rather than distributing this PDF, which would be a kind of piracy of the publisher’s design, you use Adobe Reader Professional to save the PDF into the RTF format, and you can work with that.

    I hear rumors that more publishers are talking about a new model under which they ONLY distribute their books via POD and e-book…jwhich is what E-Reads presently does. We’ll see if that pans out for new books. Certainly this would cut the publisher’s upfront costs to the bone…no printing and distribution! Although, again, at this point an author wonders why not just do it on their own. One difference is that a publisher can provide visibility and (in your dreams) a good advertising budget.

  18. MarcL Says:

    David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer just bought a story of mine for their next Year’s Best Fantasy anthology, which Tor will be putting out. It’s an electronic or online anthology, with a possible POD component, as I understand it–in other words, an experiment. So we’ll soon start to see how this all pans out.

  19. Alex Says:

    this looks interesting

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espresso_Book_Machine

    and

    http://www.ondemandbooks.com/home.htm

    however the quote
    “What Gutenberg’s press did for Europe in the 15th century digitization and the Espresso Book Machine will do for the world tomorrow.”

    does remind me of

    “It will be more stimulating to the human mind than any new technology since printing.” – Trip Hawkins, boss of Electronic Arts talking about the 3DO computer games system.


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