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Mainstream authors using on-demand publishers

Bondi Beach
Updated:

Within the last couple of months I've purchased two books through Amazon. The first, Talking to the Dead, is a police procedural / thriller by Harry Bingham and published by Sheep Street Books. The second is Roadhouse Blues, a collection of erotic fiction by Malin James, published by Go Deeper Press.

Each volume contains a day/month/year date on the last page that when compared against the day it arrived at my house makes it almost certain the volume was printed on demand.

I'd argue Bingham and James are mainstream authors, albeit not NYT best-selling authors. James is a big name in the quasi-literary erotica world. (And her stories are hilarious, and hot.) Bingham's thrillers are mainstream.

Bingham has been published by Delacorte Press and HarperCollins and perhaps others in the past; he also runs writing workshops and talks about print-on-demand. Both books appear to be error-free and professionally laid out, which suggests they had expert professional editing.

This is my first time with mainstream authors and print-on-demand. Except for an odd rubbery feel to the covers and the use of bright white paper stock instead of ivory, they are pretty much indistinguishable from traditionally published paper books.

Has anyone else seen obvious print-on-demand volumes from mainstream authors? Print-on-demand apparently is getting more common. I guess almost by definition you won't see the volumes in your local bookstore, independent or chain.

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Ernest Bywater

Some years back, when the Amazon vs Hachette issue was at its height I saw an article about how some authors were following the advice of some of the smaller main stream publishers to use Print on Demand services to publish any books they couldn't get the regular publishers to be interested in.

The thinking being that the regular publishers would publish any book they thought would have enough interest to make a profit off, but if they didn't think the book would be in a big enough demand to make it worth them printing it and putting it into their distribution system, then they wouldn't take the book on. However, if the author still wanted to have the book published, some of the publishers would suggest they go to a Print on Demand service and make it available through them. They also gave such advice to some aspiring authors who had a fair book, but not good enough for the publishers to invest in. The interesting aspect of the article was they would recommend print on demand services, but not e-book services. (Please don't ask where I saw that, because the link, if I kept it, is on the computer still being held hostage by the Gestapo.)

It would seem that's happening.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@Ernest Bywater

The interesting aspect of the article was they would recommend print on demand services, but not e-book services.


That's especially interesting, but then I'm not an e-book fan. I wonder what kind of editing and layout services, if any, the publisher was willing to offer, even if they wouldn't invest in a paper print run themselves.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

Has anyone else seen obvious print-on-demand volumes from mainstream authors? Print-on-demand apparently is getting more common. I guess almost by definition you won't see the volumes in your local bookstore, independent or chain.

You won't see them in bookstores, because most POD services (primarily lulu and createspace) don't offer to buy back the unsold copies from bookstores. Only Ingram-Sparks does that, and it's seen a sudden rise in bookstore sales, although it's difficult to learn to use and formatting is NOT for author/writers!

Most bookstores won't even touch books by CreateSpace (because of it was bought out by Amazon years ago), while you'll only find books by lulu if it's a local publisher who asked the bookstore owner, thus no widespread sales.

There's also been a wider acceptance of POD sales by libraries, though I haven't seen it myself yet.

I believe that Ingram-Sparks offers ivory paper. I've always preferred it, but it's a matter of choice which authors prefer (white or ivory paper are the normal choices).

They also gave such advice to some aspiring authors who had a fair book, but not good enough for the publishers to invest in. The interesting aspect of the article was they would recommend print on demand services, but not e-book services.

That's likely because, there's nothing in ebooks for bookstores. They can't display them on the shelves, they don't earn enough to justify it, and virtually anyone can purchase it online after seeing it listed at a bookstore and get it faster. So don't ever expect to see ebooks in brick & mortar stores. Although, many libraries are beginning to carry ebooks, but they aren't as likely to carry them by independent authors.

Library systems also have a poor record with POD books, because most library system have a 'vetting' system, which often takes months to process, after which they ship it to the main branch, often hundreds of miles from where the author's friends might be interested in purchasing them, meaning there's ZERO chance of their selling any.

Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

That's especially interesting, but then I'm not an e-book fan. I wonder what kind of editing and layout services, if any, the publisher was willing to offer, even if they wouldn't invest in a paper print run themselves.

Oddly enough, the Vanity Presses do the best job with proofing, covers and producing 'professional' quality books, but then authors pay through the nose for their services, have to order the books by the case, and have little chance of recouping their expense, so few ever publish a second book. Many end up giving up writing rather than trying a second one. :(

eBooks are more popular with computer and tech savy younger people, especially those with the fancy high-def tablets.

Most mainstream publishers no longer offer editing or proofing services, but if authors can afford it, you can hire highly-qualified editors. You've just got to sell a TON of books to justify the expense!

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

Has anyone else seen obvious print-on-demand volumes from mainstream authors?


Michael J. Sullivan is a successful mainstream published author with Hatchett who participates on wattpad. He gets $500,000 advances.

Michael calls himself a hybrid author meaning he both traditionally publishes and self-publishes. So I guess the books he self-publishes are POD.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


eBooks are more popular with computer and tech savy younger people, especially those with the fancy high-def tablets.


Not according to the informal survey an author did on wattpad. The question was addressed to those under 18. It asked if they read ebooks or print.

Over 90% responded print books. They said they wanted to hold the paperback and they found them in bookstores or the library.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Over 90% responded print books. They said they wanted to hold the paperback and they found them in bookstores or the library.

Those numbers are almost universally reported, but they break down quickly in actual use. If people have a choice between a paperback and an ebook for the exact same price ($24.95), they'll ALWAYS choose the paperback. But, if the ebook is cheaper, which is almost always the case with anyone but the traditional mainstream publishers (who don't want cheaper ebooks to cut out the demand for their bestsellers), readers will abandon the paperbacks almost right away.

The vast majority of my book sales are via ebooks. Since my print books cost $7.99 while my ebooks only cost $4.99, it's easy to see why. Although I work exceedingly hard on those print books, no one buys them. I still use them as gifts (to contributors, family and friends), but they don't sell at all!

If the traditional publishers cut their prices for ebooks, the entire market for print books would collapse overnight.

The other factor with well-known authors going to POD is that, those with an established base, have found they'd rather self-publish in order to keep the audio rights (which is a major financial factor). They know they're established fans will follow them, and many even crowd-source they're books to get the money upfront. The fact that most publishers tie up various financial streams in contracts (ebook rights, republishing rights, audio rights, movie rights), even more authors are now bailing on traditional book contracts.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The vast majority of my book sales are via ebooks.


But your customers are not teenagers. This was teenagers (under 18).

And that they get books from bookstores and libraries is why the YA market is so hard to self-pub. I'm finding that with my new novel.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

And that they get books from bookstores and libraries is why the YA market is so hard to self-pub. I'm finding that with my new novel.

Again, I'm not sure I agree. While they all SAY they prefer books, if you offer them a discount, few think the print book is worth that much more. If that was so, then ebooks would soon be dead.

Every year, the traditional publishers proudly announce that ebook sales are flat or falling. What they don't admit, is that's based exclusively on their sales, where they charge $29.99 for an ebook when the print book only costs $23.00. Who the hell would waste their time buying an ebook for that price?

Show me a study where young people have never read anything on any of their devices, and I'll reconsider my self-publishing strategy.

Everyone prefers print books, but in the end, most people prefer having more books over having one or two ideal books. It's also why first-edition hardbacks aren't big sellers.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

If that was so, then ebooks would soon be dead.


The majority of ebooks are adult romance novels. I'm talking about YA readers.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Show me a study where young people have never read anything on any of their devices, and I'll reconsider my self-publishing strategy.


I can only go by the informal survey I saw on wattpad. And that the authors on wattpad say that if you write YA, don't self-publish because it's a hard sell (and that's both ebooks and print because they buy them in bookstores).

Everyone prefers print books,


Not so. Many people (adults) prefer ebooks because they don't have room for the print books. And if you go on a trip, you bring your iPad or Kindle with tons of books on it.

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