The legitimacy of print on demand

Earlier this year in an episode of our FIR podcast, Shel and I discussed legitimacy of print on demand, a topic that resulted from some emotional and critical posts about print on demand and vanity publishing.

Essentially, the original poster had lumped both together. In his own blog, Shel posted a robust defence of print on demand as a legitimate business activity.

Now news about a step taken by UK publisher Faber & Faber. If this isn’t a validation for the legitimacy of print on demand, I don’t know what is.

A report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph says that Faber & Faber will revive more than 1,000 books with a print on demand service. They include neglected works by the likes of Joseph Conrad, Angus Wilson and A.J.P Taylor.

The publisher’s new imprint, Faber Finds, will be able to bring back a title for as few as 50 people, according to the Telegraph.

Faber Finds includes some more details:

[…] The launch list has been assembled by Faber’s editors and authors – writers such as Wendy Cope, Jan Morris, Andrew Motion and Brian Friel have already chosen books they’d love to see published again – but we’ll be widening the net to include recommendations from other authors as well as you, the readers. Through Lost & Found we ask you to let us know what you’d like to see back in print.

Faber Finds will grow and embrace fiction, thrillers, sci-fi, memoirs, biographies, history, poetry, travel books, popular science and books for younger readers. Printed on demand, the text of each title will be beautifully re-set, printed on high-quality paper, and bound with a unique jacket design.

It’s not clear on the publisher’s website precisely how print on demand will work. It’s not for printing very small numbers of copies (less than 50) as the Telegraph story indicates.

Still, according to the website, you’ll be able to buy Faber Finds books through all leading online retailers and, from this month, the new Faber website.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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