Friday, June 03, 2005

A personal message to major publishers who don't utilize POD: ARGH!!

There are certain things I find unacceptable in this day and age (like having to watch TV at a certain time of day. Why can't the programs be offered on demand? With the same advertisers built-in to the program no matter when it is watched?)

More importantly (and on point): why do some publishers avoid using POD for titles about to go out of print? Here is a sad, frustrating story that your POD-dy girl recently went through:

A friend of a friend of mine suggested I read one her favorite authors: Catherine Ryan Hyde. She said pick up any title and enjoy. Well, there is nothing I enjoy more than enjoyment, so off I went to my local Barnes and Noble.

Titles available? Zero.

Thinking I would fix B&N's wagon, I promptly zipped over to my local Borders.

Titles available? Zero.

Waldenbooks? Zero?

Even my favorite used bookstore was coming up dry.

By this point, I had invested three hours and consumed enough cappuccino to have blood squirting out my eye sockets.

I returned home and punched up Amazon while dialing my friend-of-friend. Convo ensued . . .

Girl: What's the deal, friend-of-friend. I couldn't find a single title by Hyde.
Friend: What do you mean?
Girl: I mean no one was stocking them. So I need your absolute favorite title so I can buy it on Amazon; I am not taking any chances.
Friend:Uh, okay, a must-read is EARTHQUAKE WEATHER.
Girl (typing): Nope, it's out of print.
Friend: What? What about FUNERALS FOR HORSES?
Girl (typing): Nope. Out of print.
Girl (typing): Out of print.
Friend: Well, they must have ELECTRIC GOD.
Girl (typing): No. Also out of print.
Friend: But . . . that's becoming a film starring Nicolas Cage.
Girl (typing, switching quickly to Wow, you're right. What's the deal with that? What publisher wouldn't keep a book in print when a movie tie-in--with Nick Cage, no less--is on the horizon?

*brief silence*

Friend: Please tell me they still have PAY IT FORWARD in print.
Girl (typing, back to Amazon): Sure enough there is one edition in print of Hyde's PAY IT FORWARD, the mass market version, undiscounted, with only three left in stock.

*brief silence*

In unison: Huh.

So, Simon & Shuster and Pocket are, at a minimum, guilty of letting good books go out of print even when they have the means to stop it--nothing short of not preventing an armed robbery when one might have the presence of mind to do so.

Here's hoping that putting ELECTRIC GOD back in print (when demand from the movie drives it) will cost Simon & Schuster a bloody fortune--and that the only person who sees a profit is Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Bonus round:

Here is a nifty article about choosing a POD publisher. Especially handy for newcomers.