Bringing Out-of-Print Books Back to Life

September 2004
by Danny O. Snow

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Now that new production methods offer the option of tiny print runs, it’s relatively easy for publishers to resurrect out-of-print books by using print-on-demand (POD), digital short-run printing, or even traditional offset. Of course, the fact that something is technologically possible doesn’t mean that it’s financially profitable, but when the books have enduring appeal for readers–even if the numbers are modest–and when the publishers create and implement intelligent marketing plans, the trend toward using short print runs to give books new lives is a healthy one.

To Change or Not to Change

Some republished books strive to faithfully preserve the original. Some include updates or other revisions designed for modern sensibilities. Both strategies can be effective, depending on the publisher’s target audience and editorial objectives.

Patria Press (in Indianapolis) is systematically rereleasing the venerable Bobbs-Merrill Childhood of Famous Americans series, from Amelia Earhart, Young Air Pioneer to William Henry Harrison, Young Tippecanoe, with updated text and book designs suitable for today’s schools and libraries. Meanwhile, Black Classic Press (in Baltimore) has republished dozens of titles, such as 100 Years of Lynching (originally issued by Lancer Publishing in 1963), and has preserved their look and feel. (Patria Press, by the way, uses traditional offset printing, whereas Bla…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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