March 20, 2004
I'm a publisher

I'm a bonafide publisher now, and you can be one too.

A couple weeks ago, Cory Doctorow relicensed his book Down and out in the Magic Kingdom with the least restrictive Creative Commons license possible. Basically, I can take Cory's book and do what ever I like with it as long as it's non-commercial and I give Cory credit for writing the original book.

I got to think about what I could do and quickly realized that there wasn't much I wanted to do with his book. I considered taking the text, reformatting it and publishing with the new instant book publishing systems. But I want Cory to make some money off of the book, so I dropped the idea.

In the shower one morning, I was pondering what book to read next. I had just finished my latest book and needed something different. The John Carter, Warlord of Mars series popped into my mind. I pondered re-reading it. But I didn't have the books and would have to visit the library or buy the books. Then it hit me. The entire book series is in the Gutenberg Library online.

The Gutenberg Library is an online collection of FREE books that you can download and read. Truly amazing. Almost 10,000 books are available currently.

Then I knew what I wanted to do. I downloaded A Princess of Mars, the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs's Warlod of Mars series. It took me about 45 minutes to format the text into the right format and add a table of contents. Cafepress offers instant book printing and make it extremely easy to do. If you can make it into a PDF file, you can publish it. Within about an hour, I had everything uploaded to Cafepress and ordered a copy.

About 4 days later the book arrived, and I was amazed. It was a real book, like any paperback you could buy in the book store.

As you can see, I made a fairly plain cover graphic. Anything you can make into a jpeg file, you can make the cover, spine, and back of the book. I'm sure you creative types can do better.

Happy with results, I ordered more copies and they arrived promptly. I sent out a few to friends that like science fiction and gave out a couple at SXSW. Everyone seems quite impressed that it's so easy to publish a book. The book is on sale at Cafepress for $13.15. There's no markup, that's the price Cafepress charges and I make no money.

Yes, you can buy the book for $6.50 new on Amazon, as long as it's in print. That's not the point.

The point is that the technology exists for no book to ever go out of print. As long a writer makes an electronic copy available, their book can be bought by readers and printed one at a time. For example, the book, NeoAddix by Jon Courtney Grimwood is out of print and I can't find a used copy. The only copy I can find is in French. If he made the book available via instant book publishing, there would be no publishing costs until I agreed to pay the price he set for it.

I've got one copy of the book left. If you are a science fiction fan, and you want it, drop me a line. BTW, if you've got a copy of NeoAddix, name your price.

Posted by michael at March 20, 2004 09:34 AM