Magazine article American Libraries

The Crawford Files: Brace Yourselves-It's the Attack of the PoD People! (Publishing)

Magazine article American Libraries

The Crawford Files: Brace Yourselves-It's the Attack of the PoD People! (Publishing)

Article excerpt

Forget Mr. Mold the Stack Monster.

MARC the Magnificent? Old hat.

Conan the Librarian is still on UHF.

It's up to you to handle...

The Attack of the PoD People!

Does your library's collection policy favor local authors? If not--if you sneer at your aldermen when their great American novels don't get good reviews in the New York Times--then you can skip this column. You have problems, but this isn't one of them.

You do collect local authors more avidly than others? It's a reasonable collection development policy. After all, fewer than 60,000 Americans see their names on published books each year--roughly one out of every 5,000 people. In a city of 60,000 people, exhaustive local collecting might add 12 books a year and do wonders for good will, your library's connection to your city, and your deep local collection.

PoD: Changing the rules

PoD is shorthand for Print-on-Demand, the form of e-book that dominates most marketplace projections for e-book success. PoD books aren't really e-books: they're printed-and-bound books, usually paperback. The difference is that printing and binding takes place when someone needs a copy rather than in predictive quantities.

PoD sales already account for at least half a million volumes a year. As PoD systems become cheaper and more self-contained, and as established companies improve distribution, publicity, and charging, it's likely that PoD will grow rapidly.

PoD is a good thing for libraries. PoD can make specialized books more available, midlist and backlist publishing more feasible, and "out of print" a temporary state. By eliminating returns and reducing shipping costs to bulk paper and binding materials, PoD offers efficiencies that sometimes offset the higher costs of laser printing and one-off binding compared to traditional publishing. Once printed, a PoD book is just a book, handled like any other book. If the paper's not acidic and the binding is designed properly, a PoD book may be archival quality.

So where do PoD People come in?

Everyone has a book--or four?

Americans write some 750,000 book-length manuscripts a year--of which fewer than 60,000 are published. …

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