New ABA Partnership to Provide Booksellers Access to POD

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This week, the American Booksellers Association announced a partnership with Applewood Books that will enable ABA member booksellers to publish out-of-print books on demand. The new program will provide participating booksellers with the ability to publish any title that is in the public domain or any book, such as a local interest title, whose rights have reverted to the author and to sell it at margins from 50 to 75 percent.

"This program represents a tremendous opportunity for independent booksellers to sell high-margin merchandise that will further tie their stores to local communities," said Len Vlahos, chief program officer for ABA. "Booksellers can now take a local interest title that is out of print, republish it through this program and sell it in their store -- providing their community access to local history they'd not be able to obtain otherwise."

Phil Zuckerman of Applewood Books, an established publisher of historic and public domain books from America's past, told BTW that partnering with indie booksellers was a natural, in part due to their knowledge of the market. "There is no doubt that booksellers know better about what sells," he said. "They understand what books would sell if consumers were able to get their hands on them, from both a national and local perspective. That's some pretty powerful intellectual muscle."

To participate, booksellers will sign a letter of agreement for each work and pay an advance fee of $250 for each title they choose to co-publish through the program. The work must be in the public domain or the rights to reprint the title must have been procured in writing. To prepare the title for printing, Applewood will digitize the work; create a cover design (booksellers can choose one of three templated designs at no extra charge or provide their own custom, production-ready art); assign an ISBN; provide bibliographic data; approve the title for manufacture; and more. Titles will be printed by Ingram's Lightning Source.

Among the key benefits of the program is that participating booksellers will have exclusive access to purchase any of the works that Applewood co-publishes for ABA members via a web portal which is scheduled to launch at the end of July. Moreover, the program provides participating booksellers with the option of allowing Applewood to distribute their works through its distribution channels throughout the world. When booksellers choose this option, Applewood will pay a royalty of 10 percent of net for any sales made: 7.5 percent will be paid to the store, and 2.5 percent will be paid to ABA for administering the program.

Vlahos stressed that, by partnering with Applewood Books, which has been in business since 1976, booksellers won't have the headache of navigating the complicated maze of out-of-print licensing and public domain publishing. "Applewood Books has over 30 years of experience in this field, and their unmatched know-how will help our members tap a new, and potentially very profitable, market," he said.

The partnership between ABA and Applewood Books was facilitated by Ingram's Lightning Source, which had been engaged in conversations with the association to find ways to help independent booksellers tap into the print-on-demand market.

Further details, a letter of agreement, and more will be made available on BookWeb by the end of July. In the meantime, booksellers with questions should contact Vlahos at [email protected]. --David Grogan