[HNW] Printing, etc.

Lavolta Press fran at lavoltapress.com
Thu Aug 30 12:00:30 PDT 2007

Juliann wrote:

> I'm sorry to have this as my first post to this list, but I'm afraid  
> I am not understanding why getting something printed/done up for a  
> small run for people within the SCA has turned into setting up a  
> small publishing company and all of its legalities etc?  Is there  
> something inherently undesirable about using Lulu.com for printing,  
> distribution, ISBN, etc?

If you want to make money, yes, services like Lulu are undesirable. They 
raise your unit cost (the cost of producing one copy of the book) 

The cheapest per-unit costs are offset, if you are producing more than a 
few hundred copies.  Offset is also the highest-quality printing method. 
The next cheapest are POD PRINTERS, who merely print the book and do not 
offer extra services. The most expensive are POD PUBLISHERS, such as 
Lulu.  Profesional publishers never photocopy (not even usually galleys 
any more), which is the highest-cost way to get the lowest-quality book.

Yes, the industry calls Lulu a subsidy press.  Here are some articles on 
subsidy POD presses:


The other thing about professional publishing is this:  Getting reviews.

Reviewers for any major publication know who everyone is, by publisher
name and, with POD publishers, the ISBNs they provide.  Or at least, 
where everyone ranks in the industry. Reviewers can tell a major press, 
from a university press, from a small press, from a micropress, from a 
subsidy press in a minute. Every such publication regularly receives 
hundreds or thousands more books than they have review space for, so 
they're very eager to weed out books from consideration. The smaller the 
press, the less likely they are to review its books. Although subsidy 
press books _very_ occasionally get reviewed, generally any subsidy 
label is the kiss of death.

Sometimes POD printers and even POD publishers are used for a small run, 
sometimes as few as 10 copies or so, of bound galleys or Advance Reading 
Copies/ARCs, which these days are about the same thing as a bound galley 
with a fancier cover. This is because a handful of extremely influential 
industry publications, and the competitors for review space within them, 
have upped the standards for bound galleys to the point that what these 
publications require is really a finished book--fully edited, 
illustrated, and bound in softcover.  Whether or not it should have a 
special ARC cover that looks almost but not quite like the real book 
cover, or instead a white cover, is a matter of intense debate. Because, 
these publications also require this essentially finished book to be 
submitted three or four months before publication, because they firmly 
refuse to review "finished books."  In other words, they want a finished 
book, but you can't actually submit a finished book or an ARC that could 
be mistaken for one.

It may seem like a senseless game to play, but I play it, because the 
stakes are high. A review in one of these publications means you sell 
thousands more books than you'd sell otherwise. I haven't managed to get 
one yet, but hope springs eternal.  My books have, however, been 
reviewed in a fair number of midsize consumer publications such as 
_Threads_, and in more or less academic publications like the British 
Costume Society journal; and these publications don't review subsidy 
press books either.

POD publishers are considered highly appropriate for hobby books: Family 
memoirs, and so on. It's just that publications oriented to reviewing 
books intended for sale, don't review hobby books.

Lavolta Press

   It has really changed the print-on-demand
> industry for people who just want to "put something out there"  
> without being a vanity press (no author contributions are required  
> towards printing costs, although you do have to pay for an ISBN and  
> any optional extra services you may desire).
> I can see that if one *wants* to set up a small publishing house that  
> is one thing, but if this discussion arose as I think it did over the  
> ISBN issue there are certainly other ways around that...Lulu isn't  
> alone any more but it comes highly recommended by a number of people  
> I know including some who work in book publishing.
> --Brygyt
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