Friday, August 5, 2011
Why Do Authors Bother with Publishers?
For the third time in six months I find myself going begging to get a hold of a newer, already out of print book. It's really frustrating to have to go through hoops to get a copy of a book that should be fairly easy to get.
First, I had to use local connections to get a copy of Dartmouth: The Early History of a Massachusetts Town by Beverly Morrison Glennon. Then I had to go begging to the author to get one of the last copies of Joanne Hulbert's book Holliston, A Good Town. Now I find myself in the same position as I try to find a copy of Forgotten Patriots: African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War, A Guide to Service, Sources and Studies edited by Eric Grundset. This is no longer available from the DAR website.
Ironically, as books are on the way out, as I've heard people say, I find myself trying to buy books faster and faster. I'm in a race against them going out of print before I've bought a copy. Perhaps someday (I say with a meniacal laugh) my books will be worth more because very few people will actually have copies.
The thing I don't get is why authors are doing the very old fashioned thing of using publishers instead of print on demand. Publishers don't seem to be able to make the numbers work to have enough books available for the people who want to buy them. They are going for a fast hit of a climactic sales in the first year after publication and abandoning the book after that. With local history books in particular, researchers or history buffs might need the book five, ten or even fifteen years down the road.
Print on demand seems to be a win-win for everyone. The author gets their book in print and the reader gets the chance to buy it when they need it. In the meantime there is very little overhead for maintaining the book.
I hope more local history and genealogy authors will choose the print on demand option. Let me tell you I am getting pretty tired and frustrated of tracking down books that are no longer available first hand for second.
Photo Credit: Photo by Stefan Baudy used under the Creative Commons license
Posted by Marian Pierre-Louis at 8:23 PM