Thursday, October 18, 2007

The debate re POD rights

Yesterday it was such a strange day and I was feeling so out of sorts that I felt compelled to visit the Landmark Trust website to check availability for my favourite island - Lundy. There are a few weeks still left in December, but I didn't fancy going at that time of year with the long nights as it would mean I would have to be making my way back from the North End by 3.30pm. I noticed however that my favourite cottage - The Old Light Cottage was available from 8th February right through to 7th March. It isn't anymore, as I have booked to go for a week starting 8th February!

This is a wonderful time to go, despite the cold, as you get the wonderful crisp, clear late winter days, and the young animals (goats and soays) are starting to be born. The helicopter season does not end until the middle of March, so with a bit of luck I will get a birds eye view of the island as well from the front seat next to the pilot. I can hardly wait!

Reading the Bookseller website yesterday though, I noticed yet another article about the debate re digital rights - or to be more precise, POD rights. The industry is trying to decide, with the advent of POD technology exactly when a book is out of print, and when, if at all, rights should revert back to the author. Traditionally it has been when the book sales fall below a certain number - usually around 100 depending on the publisher, and genre. Should this though continue, or should it be when the income from book sales falls below a certain level instead?

Is a book deemed to be out of print when it exists as only a virtual file as happens with POD? These are all questions that need to be addressed, as the publishing world begins to embrace this technology.

I was warned when I went down the POD route that a lot of larger publishing houses, agents and even newspapers and magazines, still regarded self published (especially POD) books as vanity press, and they did not count as a writing credit on ones CV. Even worse, some magazines and newspapers refused to review them at all, since without the endorsement of a major (or even minor) publishing house, they could not be certain of the quality, and reviewing them might tarnish their own reputation ! Yes, you did read that right (the words shepherd and sheep once again spring to mind). I have found though that when ringing book shops and the media in general that these attitudes are changing, and people are no longer afraid, but are beginning to recognise the potential that POD has.

POD authors and providers have played a huge role in this, working tirelessly to increase standards, producing well written and produced books that are credit to them and their publishers. My experiences at the Authors OnLine 10th anniversary last weekend only served to confirm this. Like it or not, print on demand is here to stay, and is changing the industry in many important ways, The industry is finally beginning to realise that if they want to survive, then they have to embrace this and not fight against it.

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