26 July 2006

Vanity publishing goes mad?

There is an interesting article in The New York Times. "Technology Rewrites the Book" is about one-off book printing. So anyone can create their own professional looking productions.

This raises a couple of points for science writers. Should all those awards for science books start to specify a minimum print run for entries? Or is it perfectly acceptable to give an award to a book that no one has read? (Did someone mention Hawking's runaway success here? That was one of the great unread books of all time.)

More interesting to some of us, though, is the possibility of keeping books in print. Thirty years ago, I wrote a book on energy technology in the wake of the "crisis" of the 1970s. It sold reasonably well and even went into a reprint. But eventually it reached its "sell by" date and became of purely historic interest.

That book, like many written around the time, still has lessons for those fresh to the whole energy caper. Would it be a good idea to put the thing back on the market? Printing a copy at a time makes this much easier. First, though, I have to scan the thing to create all that text.

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