Booksellers PTO Publishing Launches Beta Portal

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The Booksellers Print-to-Order (PTO) Publishing Program -- from the American Booksellers Association and Applewood Books -- has launched a beta version of its participating booksellers' online portal, the latest development in the initiative's rollout. The program, open to any ABA member in good standing, gives independent booksellers the ability to publish any titles in the public domain, or those whose rights have been secured from the author, and to sell them at margins from 50 to 75 percent.

"The beta launch of the online portal for the Booksellers PTO Program is a very big step," said Chief Program Officer Len Vlahos. "Using this tool, booksellers will be able to both efficiently work with Applewood on the production of their titles and, also, purchase the finished titles at a very competitive discount."

At the recent Northern California Independent Booksellers Association trade show, Monica McClanihan, owner of Willow Bridge Books in Oakhurst, California, and Dan Cullen, ABA senior director of editorial content, presented a program on Booksellers PTO, which outlined the title selection and production process for McClanihan's print-on-demand title, Adventuring in California, an illustrated travelogue of three stories of journeys through Yosemite first published in 1921.

McClanihan explained what factored into her decision to select Adventuring in California and described the production process with Applewood, including fine-tuning the jacket design for the new edition. She noted that the PDF of the cover as first conceived featured "a photograph of two old gentlemen sitting on a porch with long beards down to their laps. And I just thought it was so inconsistent -- they looked like they had done their adventuring a long, long time ago." Looking at the image, McClanihan said, "right away, I knew that would not be a good cover for my store," adding that "here was a chance for me to put my imprint on a book that eventually is going to have my logo on it." She chose three alternative photos and, then, worked with Applewood on selecting a more appropriate final image.

Works published by the Booksellers PTO Program must be in the public domain or the rights to reprint must have been procured in writing. To prepare a title for printing, Applewood Books will digitize the work; create a cover design (booksellers will be able to choose one of three templated designs at no extra charge or they can provide their own custom, production-ready art); assign an ISBN; provide bibliographic data; approve the title for manufacture; and more. Books to be digitized will not be harmed in the process, and they may include photos. Titles will be printed by Ingram Lightning Source, which was instrumental in facilitating the Booksellers PTO Program.

Emphasizing the appeal of a local title, McClanihan said, "I plan on taking it to historical societies and to museums, and actually finding outlets for it all over the county where I live and do business."

Applewood Books' Phil Zuckerman told BTW that "[McClanihan's plan] is a clear example of the insight that local booksellers have about the titles that local customers would purchase if they could only get their hands on them."

Under the program, participating booksellers also have the option of allowing Applewood to distribute their works through its worldwide distribution channels. Booksellers who choose this option will be paid a royalty of 7.5 percent of net for any sales made. "I would like my bookstore to become known not just as the local bookstore but also a bookstore that is in the publishing business ... and [that is] getting books out into the big, wide world," said McClanihan.

Booksellers with questions about any aspect of the Booksellers PTO Program should contact Vlahos at len@bookweb.org or (800) 637-0037, ext. 6650. Signed letters of agreement should be mailed to: Len Vlahos, American Booksellers Association, 200 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, New York 10591.