I try to refrain from gossip, and speaking about that which I do not know first-hand. Hard to do when your profession is Writer, I know.
"Write about what you know," is the Writers' Workshop Adage. So here's my own first-hand experience with Amazon Print-on-Demand (POD).
I'd love it if you wanted to look at my anthology What Book!? ~ Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop. It came out about ten years ago. Up until this year, you could go to a bookstore and peruse a copy.
I'd worked on it for five years. It maps all the diverse and amazing kinds of poetics emerging from Western encounters with the Buddha, from 1950 to today ("Beat to Hiphop"). There are 325 contributions from 125 contributors, making statements both critical and spiritual. It was honored with an American Book Award, as well as many nice blurbs. (There were offers for publication in foreign languages, but ... that's another story.) It's been taught in classes. The book has been very successful. Materially, 5,000 copies sold is a considerable amount for poetry; sometimes, it’s only 500.
Then something happened after the third printing. The initial person who was the publisher leaves and another takes the helm. Then one distributor is swapped for a larger one. The new distributor looks over the entire catalog, and when it comes to mine suggests that there be a new edition, since sales were no longer brisk.
The publisher arranges a lunch with me to suggest my getting some new work, including a blurb by a particular famous person. There was talk of a bookmark inserted in the new edition.
I said no. My book might be at a low point in cyclical wave patterns, but it was still viable. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Sorry, no cigar. Now my book is technically out of print. Technically. If you want to see a copy, hold an inksmeared deadtree edition in your paws, you might look for one popping up at your local used bookstore (after all, there were 5,000 printed). Or you can order a copy online from Amazon who'll publish a print-on-demand copy for you.
Ready for the capper?
Now that my book's a heartbeat away from being legitimately out-of-print, it's mostly available online for free, from Books.Google.com. As you've maybe heard, Google's been scanning out-of-print books and making them available online. And once a book is available only as Amazon POD, they know that’s really out-of-print. (The publisher is keeping it technically “in print” to keep their stake, their claim on it, so the author or editor doesn’t take the book to another publisher.)
The last I heard, the publisher would consider doing another printing if there were enough sales: meaning, if enough people (a) know about the book without seeing it, (b) don't want to read it online for free. Please feel free to write the publisher, care of me, if you wish to be added to a list of those who wish a new printing.
Questions? Comments? Criticism, anyone?
Have a wonderful weekend.
I see blue skies out my window, 'tho they talk of rain for tomorrow.
Causes Gary Gach Supports
Tzu Chi, Heifer, Seva, CraigsList Fdn