Harper offers bricks and mortar stores ability to sell books by printing them if not on shelf



A customer walks into a bookstore and asks for a book. Only it's not on the shelf. "We'll order it for you," the clerk says.

"No thanks," says the customer, and instead ends up ordering the book from Amazon.

Now bookstores might be able to print the book, using an Espresso Book Machine.

According to Shelf Awareness: The bookstores will be able to offer trade paperbacks from the HarperCollins catalogue through a mix of traditionally printed books and print on demand, with the latter sold on an agency model. HarperCollins trade paperback books, including adult and children's titles, will be available on Espresso Book Machines starting in November. Titles from Zondervan and HarperCollins Canada will be available early next year."

And the article adds: Harvard Bookstore owner Jeffrey Mayersohn noted that the "ability to have available any book that our customers could possibly ask for is key to our vision of how to thrive in this challenging environment.

Read more here about using the Espresso Book Machine in stores.

The idea sounds great, but I have two questions:

1. How will a book be considered "out-of-print"? As an author who has made some decent money putting my out-of-print books out as ebooks, that's of concern. Or take an author who hits it big and then has the chance to go back and put out his old books with a different publisher for more money. How the out-of-print clause is defined is going to be important. Speaking as someone who made a few dollars putting her out-of-print backlist on the Kindle ( April's books on the Kindle), that's important.

2. One thing the article doesn't mention is how much those Espresso print-on-demand books will cost. A POD version of a traditional mass market paperback or trade paperback can much more.

As Seattle Mystery Books noted on its blog a year ago: We needed to reorder David Rosenfelt's Sudden Death. This was a regular 'ol mass market paperback, $7.99 from Warner. (Warner no longer exists as a publisher - it is now Hachette). But at some point, the book was switched to this POD system. What arrived was a trade paperback edition priced at $20.99 AND with a much lower discount. So now the book is far more expensive to put on the shelf and nearly impossible to sell at that price.

Leslie Silbert's Intelligencer is a book that Fran sells (guess I should say 'sold) continually. It is a dual-time thriller, set in the past and the present, a private eye story and a bibliomystery. Since 2005 when it came out as a $14 trade paperback from Simon & Schuster, we sold 82 copies. Now it is a POD from Ingram priced at $22.99.

We'll no longer be stocking these titles.


Read more here from the store's blog.



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Impressive. I suspect future publications may well come with different cover options and alternative endings.
I'm thinking more like the 'Director's cut' they do with movies, which if you ask me, is really more of a 'Let's think of a way we can re-wrap an old product so we have an excuse to publicize it, cut.' :)