Monday, June 04, 2012

Oz on Demand

So, a lot of Oz folk have been using print on demand services to sell their Oz books, like CreateSpace or Lulu.com.

Literary merit aside, it actually works well because Oz has largely been a niche market. The big reason for print on demand is that the idea of supply vs. demand is now a thing of the past with this model. If someone wants the book, they can buy it, a copy is created for them and sent to them.

I used Lulu.com to publish my book Outsiders from Oz and had to face a number of limitations. The interior of the book can be as fanciful as you want, as long as your page size fits one of the pre-set page sizes.

Color plates are impossible with Lulu. If you want interior color, you have to have it set so that every page will be priced as a color printing page, and to have a blank page in there would be a waste. To justify the cost, color would have to be used quite a bit in the book. Color printing of course means a higher price, which can mean your customers might think twice before buying.

Sam Milazzo suggested we have illustrated endpapers in the hardcover version, but these are also impossible to set up with Lulu, as is a design to be printed on a cloth cover. And speaking of hardcover, I attempted to price the hardcover version as low as possible, but Lulu required a markup that brought the lowest price for the customer to about $25. Some have bought this version as they want hardcover copies and I'm very flattered they had enough faith in my work to put up that much money!

When you buy your own book, they don't charge you any markup, so it does allow me the opportunity to buy books for customers and sell them at a reduced price. I have offered to do this for attendees of the Winkie Convention this year. (E-mail me at scarecrowandtinman2002@yahoo.com for more details.)

Right now, we're working on something special for anyone who's bought the book: a color plate with a brand new illustration (a scene I really wanted to see illustrated, actually). I intend to give these out at Winkies this year and then mail them off for anyone who mails in a self-addressed stamped envelope. (International folks can make other arrangements.)

I can see it getting to a point where most books are printed through print on demand. Google Books makes some of its public domain books available to a service that uses a machine to print and bind a book in a matter of minutes. (With that service, there is a way to get a new copy of Dot and Tot of Merryland with Denslow's illustrations, but I held off buying it and then decided against it when I got an actual early Bobbs-Merrill edition.) Once the customer understands that these are made on demand and can't be shipped automatically, it's fine.

Still, print on demand does have its limitations, so the making of a lavishly produced book is still going to be a craft worth preserving.

2 comments:

Nathan said...

Does that print-on-demand Dot and Tot faithfully reproduce the colors in the Denslow illustrations, though? I think the fact that they were hard to reproduce was part of why Books of Wonder went with new illustrations.

Jared said...

I think they'd be reproduced in grayscale. And anyway, the version they have on Google Books had removed some of the color elements. (It was from a later printing.)