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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Books with Manila-Folder Covers

A new, more-or-less traditional, print publisher...actually, a derived, "next phase" or evolved print publisher...is using print-on-demand (POD) just like the self-publishers of old did (you remember the old, self-publishing, vanity types where everyone got published for a price).

POD is definitely the way to go in today's environment for any print publisher to avoid wasted money and overhead on printed books that don't sell...duhhh.

This new, treading-new-ground publisher is Publication Studio based in Portland, Oregon. The outfit has a very stripped-down business model but is the brainchild of Matthew Stadler, a literary novelist and publisher with a national reputation...who also selects the books for editing and publication. Not just anyone gets published here.

Mary Ann Gwinn, book editor at The Seattle Times, reported the following:

Seattle-area writer Matt Briggs has published six books. In 1999 his first novel got a half-page review in The New York Times Book Review, the literary equivalent of winning the lottery.

That's the good news. Here's the rest of the story:

•The initial print run of his first book, "The Remains of River Names," was 600 copies. Because of the national exposure it immediately sold out, but the publisher never printed another edition.
•Briggs' novel "Shoot the Buffalo" was accepted by a prestigious New York publishing house. Then the publisher changed its mind. In 2001 another publisher, the now defunct Oregon publisher Clear Cut Press, picked it up, but it took until 2005 to see publication. In 2006 it won the American Book Award.
•Before "Shoot the Buffalo" was published in this country, Briggs had sent it to a literary agent in Northern Ireland. He never heard back, but two years later he got an after-the-fact contract — the book had been published without his knowledge. "Someone had gone through the book and inserted physical descriptions of the characters. I was horrified," he recalls. He had to threaten a lawsuit to halt its publication.

Briggs still writes books. But this time around he's trying something different — for his new novel, "The Strong Man," set during the first Gulf War, he's being published by a Portland-based publisher called Publication Studio with a very stripped-down business model.

Here's the way publishing used to work, when it worked well: Author writes book, gets an agent. Agent submits book to publisher. Publisher likes book, pays author decent advance, prints up copies of book. Reviews ensue. Book can be found in bookstores, readers buy books. Readers (hopefully) like book and tell their friends. Author and publisher make money.

This model has been fractured. Advances are anorexic. Bookstores are thinner on the ground. Newspaper reviews, once the mainstay of highlighting a book, have declined. There are now thousands of books blogs, but a relative few of them can get the word out to more than a few readers.

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