More on O’Reilly TOC

Eoin Purcell

If you weren’t enormously envious of everyone at TOC before now . . .
(And personally I was) then you will be now. It is not just that everyone who is anyone is going, its that the discussions sound so wonderful too.

For instance the POD discussion covered on the O’Reilly XML.com pages by Simon St. Laurent:

Why? I think the basic reason is simple – I’m one of those terrible people who’s always looking for books you can’t find easily in stores. They’re out-of-print, available only from the publisher, or otherwise obscure. Ingram was my friend when I ordered through stores, and then Amazon made a lot of things easier. At O’Reilly, I want POD for all kinds of reasons, from keeping old books in print to providing a way to test out new ideas without having to print 5000 books.

I’ve been expecting POD to happen for years. I spent too much time working at Kinko’s, I guess – I’d seen books getting made, if not the fine offset books typically sold in bookstores.

So here, now, it looks like it’s finally here. Lightning Source and other printers are offering print from PDF at rates that aren’t too insanely horrible relative to offset plus the cost of warehousing.

There’s still definitely a place for offset printing – offset has great economies of scale, and if books move out quickly, then the warehousing and other distribution costs don’t matter much. Offset will probably always make sense for initial print runs of books that will sell thousands of copies in a year – but that’s actually a relatively tiny share of the total number of books out there.

You can read much much more of the detail here. At least TOC has enabled em to widen my blog count for publishing and innovation in publishing. So for that at least thank you Tim O’Reilly.

An envious book nerd.
Eoin

Blurb to jump into Europe

Eoin Purcell

Where only Lulu.com has gone before
Blurb.com is to expend some effort in building market share in Europe according to The Book Standard:

Starting next month, the company will launch specific website improvements geared toward European users, including the option to view Blurb books in metric dimensions and see prices and buy books with local currencies. The improvements will allow international Blurb users to create, publish and ship books for less.

Important or not?
Blurb has always worried me from the perspective of a publisher. The software it provides they increasingly powerful while remaining easy to use. Whereas lulu.com provides excellent printing for your average paperback, I see blurb attacking niches.

If you read the links Thursday to this report on Trade Publishing and the importance of niches, then you will begin to understand that worry.

After all as the power to design and print books shifts from the hands of publishers and becomes decentralised why should we be able to retain the market share we currently have? Given that books published by blurb.com and lulu.com can be sold online (even at places like amazon.com & .co.uk) and distribution is being outsourced to postal and delivery services, there is no limit to what these outfits can achive if they get into the minds of niche writers.

Takeover targets I wonder?
To a degree I wonder how likely Blurb or Lulu are to survive outside of one of the larger publishers. After all their technology would be beneficial. It would enable the big houses to attach themselves to the long tail. It would also enable them to offer their own POD service and not be totally reliant on Amazon’s or other players POD arms.

Alternatively they could always replicate the infrastructure themselves. But that would cost time, money and commitment not to mention an understanding fo the market. Much better to offer employment to the founders by buy out as Google and other tech focussed companies have been for some time.

Waiting for the first for sale sign
Eoin

BookTour.com: makes sense to me

Eoin Purcell

So now we know
Chris Anderson and co gave more details on their new venture at the BEA 31st May. Seems like an utterly sensible idea. From their site:

Enter BookTour. We do three things. First, we aggregate all the available information on the web about existing book tours, mostly from publisher and bookseller sites. Second, we give authors and publicists a place to enter their own book tour details and availability in a way that anyone can find. And finally, we give potential audiences a way to contact authors and publicists and request an event, either in a town the author is already visiting, or to suggest a new town to add to the tour.

Now with an unbiased hat I can say that I am under-whelmed by the concept, though I see the value. It strikes me as more of an add on service to existing products than an entirely new excersise. For instance imagine the power of a service like this combined with the tools that LibraryThing has already going.

I wonder how the aggregation will work too. Are we going to see the evolution of a specific book tour microformat that allows them to scoop up all the relevant info or will it always be dependent on the input of agents, booksellers and authors?

But perhaps I am being too down on the idea. I say go them, it is a start and if they can roll out additional features to enhance the service then maybe it will continue to exist as a product in its own right rather than, as I suspect, as part of a larger community.

Still interested
Eoin