Friday, March 10, 2006

Other on-demand publishing goodies

Breaking away from Print on Demand for a moment, have you checked out some of the cool stuff going on outside of the traditional print arena?

Slate magazine is running the newest and snazziest online book venture yet: They are publishing online the installments of a new novel by Walter Kirn called The Unbinding--which will be written in real time, appearing twice weekly between March 13 (that's this coming Monday) and some date in June.

From the Slate press release:

"While novels have been serialized in mainstream online publications before, this is the first time a prominent novelist has published a truly Web-oriented serial novel in a major online magazine. The Unbinding, a dark comedy set in the near future, is a compilation of “found documents”—online diary entries, e-mails, surveillance reports, etc. It will make use of the Internet’s unique capacity to respond to events as they happen, linking to documents and other Web sites. In other words, The Unbinding is conceived for the Web, rather than adapted to it."

How cool is that? Check it out starting March 13th.

The other new and exciting thing I have become addicted to are the new Amazon shorts--essentially, a la carte short stories written by folks with other books in print. I have read so many good ones and they are only 49 cents! Most are in the 30 page range, which if you blossom that out to a full-sized, 300 page novel, it is like getting a book for $4.90--and that's a deal.

If you are starting out of the gate on these, there are a few I would recommend (and so I shall!)

Check out Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Constance in Love: A Jane Taylor Story, sort of, where one of the characters from The Thin Pink Line and Crossing the Line gets to weigh in on the scene. This particular story is a hilarious ride on publishing. You'll get a serious kick out of it. So instead of going to the vending machine and buying yet another pair of stiff Twix bars, buy this story instead, save yourself several hundred calories and read it on your lunch hour--instead of surfing porn, you lousy perv.

Other entertaining and low-fat treats include:

Gas 'n Snack by Grant Jarrett (who also wrote More Towels: In Between the Notes--which I reviewed here some time back.

And Motorhead by Susan Henderson, a must for you McSweeney's fans out there.

Nothing like good, cheap reads! It's a much-needed break from the wickedly-priced world of POD.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What makes a bestseller?

Here's a quick and dirty P5 for you . . .

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 28,402 6
(3) CONVICTION: 75,168 6
(5) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 91,805 5


No matter what PublishAmerica tells you about how they are the nation's largest book publisher (or whatever) or even what Random House may tell you--it turns out Lulu may end up being the world's largest--if you go by number of titles.

This is a nifty article--and the numbers are astounding. Looks like being in the DIY generation may push Lulu into the number one spot.

And there is even more info here.

Some great (and telling) stats/comments include:

"According to Publishers Weekly, of the 18,108 titles published by the American self-publishing company iUniverse in 2004, only 14 were on sale in Barnes & Noble and only 83 sold more than 500 copies."

"[Young's] ambition is to have a million authors selling 100 copies each, rather than 100 authors selling a million copies each. He claims that in a few years there will be more titles being published on than in the conventional publishing industry."

Well, the answer to my bestseller question is vague. It seems everyone (every paper, that is) has some different standard for what makes a book a bestseller in terms of sales. Usually, it is something like 20,000 units over a specific period (like a few weeks or a month.)

In PublishAmerica's case, we have to assume it is something like 6 or 7 books.

PA has this posted on their website:

"PublishAmerica Celebrates James Elders's Best-Selling Book
Flatwoods and Lighterknots---James Elders's rich, candid cameo into post-World War II southern culture---is one of PublishAmerica's Top-Ten Best-Selling Books for the month of February; it is the story of America's technological---and societal---response to the advent of peace, as chronicled through the poignant narrative of a young boy. Congratulations to James Elders!"

The book's Amazon ranking (which, granted, is not a tell-all) has been hovering in the 1,500,000 range, which is about a book every three weeks. Not to disparage Mr. Elders's book, of course--it might actually be good (I have not read it) but if PA is going to take this approach, maybe they should just go ahead and say all their books are bestsellers--sort of the way I do about my own.