Brass Cannon Books is making presigned copies of Francis Hamit’s thriller, Meltdown, available on the Espresso Book Machine as a 256-page trade paperback.
“Unlike a regular book signing,” said Hamit, “This one will last more than two months rather than two hours, which should give anyone who wants one a chance to get a virtually signed edition.”
The Espresso Book Machine prints and binds trade paperback books in a few minutes while the customer watches. It is featured at some large independent bookstores and university libraries in the USA and Canada
The EBM edition of Meltdown features a signature and inscription page opposite the title page.
Due to a recent illness Francis isn’t doing many personal appearances at this time.
Hamit adds, “We think this is the future of publishing. The EBM is expensive right now, but publishing this way saves a lot of costs of inventory and transportation, and the quality of the final product is identical to the more conventionally printed books we have published. There will be far less waste. It’s a better solution ecologically because there will also be no remainders. And we make a profit on every copy we sell.”
The book can also be ordered from the On Demand Media website.
It is also in e-book form on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo, as well as other PDF outlets worldwide.
If you’re curious, here is a video demonstation of the Espresso Book Machine:
Nothing like a book signed by a machine to show one’s personal connection with the author… “I almost as good as met the writer, once,” you can brag to all your friends.
“It’s a better solution ecologically because there will also be no remainders. And we make a profit on every copy we sell.””
Remainders are just an inexpensive way for a reader to purchase a book and give the author a test run. They’re usually priced below either trde paper or mass market pricing.
I’ve heard of some publishers who with certain bestselling authors actually make money (not a lot, but some is better than none) with selling the nonselling stock since the unit costs of each book is so low.
It’s unclear from what you received from Hamitt if he’s personally signing the books, and if so does he own an Espresso Machine or is making arrangements with a local bookseller who does have one or … or ….
@Michael: Taral’s comment covers what I think is happening — the autograph is published at the time the book is printed.
I honestly don’t see any difference between this purported “autograph” and having a facsimile of the author’s signature printed on the title page of all copies, in a conventional printing plant, to then be shipped to a distributor.
I wouldn’t try and convince you of it, but I was interested in the marketing approach as a way to gain attention for in-store print-on-demand.
Okay, the signature and inscription is scanned in. Not the same as me signing them personally, but I just saw a Facebook post by a famous writer where he said that he was sitting at his publisher’s distributor, signing copies to be shipped to bookstores. Not that much different. I once saw Joesph Wambaugh sign 400 copies of a book in an hour at an ABA convention. And I signed 200 in 35 minutes at a SIGGRAPH conference when my Virtual Reality book came out 20 years ago. (Gad!)
Here’s the thing: Books are only cheap to print if you do 10,000 or more by web offset. Small presses like mine go with Print on Demand (POD) technology now. The cost per unit is around four dollars. Distribution and the retail profit and shipping is about 70% of the list price. Not much left over for your starving writer. MELTDOWN is infinitely available as an e-book in three different formats all over the world. For the moment, print is very dead. Not moving at all, so we’ve made less than a hundred in print. The Espresso Book Machine gets us into stores that would not otherwise stock the book and there are no returns to eat away at our margins. And if anyone is really finicky about the signature, bring your copy to me and I will sign it again, on the title page. The EBM is the ultimate expression of the e-book. You get one you can read without a device. I think that’s pretty cool.
As for remainders, author hate them. No royalties and they compete against us for sales. They devalue our brand. Half of every print run becomes remainders because that’s how the system is set up. Think about the waste of resources involved. Paper,, energy for printing them and fuel for transportation back and forth. It’s not a good ecological solution.
The final “Wheel of Time” book – “A Memory of Light” – co-authored by Brandon Sanderson has Robert Jordan’s signature printed on the title page. Any book dealer that listed it as “Signed by Robert Jordan” would be – if lucky – laughed out of the business.
Anyway, the Espresso Machine has great potential. A few years ago the World Bank Bookstore had one – they were an early test subject. The idea was to have these machines in their offices around the world where they could print books/booklets and the like as needed. No need to have shelves of browning paper of material that wasn’t needed.
Here’s another conundrum of modern publishing; if everyone wants e-books why have a print edition at all? Nostalgia? Nope. Reviewers insist on a bound, printed text. Most of them will not read onscreen because it’s not as comfortable as curling up with a good book. But we’ve gotten very selective about sending out printed review copies. Most of them end up in as used book store or charity thrift shop, listed on Amazon Marketplace and competing against us for sales at prices below the cost of printing them. About five percent of them result in a review. Most of the reviews are good, even great, but a few are just irritating, because it is obvious that the reviewer has not bothered to read the entire book, and in one of two instances, simply rewrote our press release. I used to be a paid reviewer and I understand the pressures, but this is simply dishonest. The best reviewers now are the book bloggers, who are in it for the love of books.
I’m all in favour of every author getting rich as Midas from his work — but they won’t get that way from selling retail, hardcover copies to me. Alas, my version of Amazon or Indigo is the Salvation Army … otherwise I’d buy almost no books at all.
Tarel: We do not, in the current environment, think we’ll make a lot of sales on our print editions. We make them so we can get reviews because most reviewers refuse to download and read e-books. Trust us on this. It was “no thanks”. It’s not that much harder to make a regular print edition for those who do want it. We do that with print-on-demand technology and the copies off the Espresso Book Machine are the same quality as the ones from Lightning Source. Same price, too. There are additional costs for getting the cover reformatted, but that’s all. And the reach is pretty good. 51 outlets in the USA and Canada And the same book is on offer Australia because there are two there. Frankly, Tarel, I’m a little sick of everyone expecting to get my work for free or cheap. You don’t have to buy it or read it, but if you do, then expect to pay a fair price. BTW there are always lots of used copies around, from which we get no payment. Using EspressNet will reduce the number of those, but not eliminate them entirely.
One of the interesting things about PoD printing is that if one deals with the right folks there’s no need to actually ship stuff around the world. And one can avoid the headaches of shipping stuff across the border, say to Canada. Or the other way from Canada to the US.
” if everyone wants e-books why have a print edition at all?”
If I am the Marie of Roumania, why don’t I have a crown? It’s an equally valid question, because in both cases, the premise is invalid. Not everyone wants e-books.
“Reviewers insist on a bound, printed text. Most of them will not read onscreen because it’s not as comfortable as curling up with a good book.”
Reviewers are not the only ones.
Thank You Morris. I assume you’ll be ordering our books?
I don’t know why you’d assume that. I’m not familiar with your writing, and one of the critical flaws of publish-on-demand technology is the absence of a book to pick up and browse through in a bookstore.
Morris: They are all on Amazon Kindle and B& N Nook, and you can read the first few pages for free. I wish that I could get them on bookstore shelves to be browsed and bought, but B&N and Amazon have this nasty trick they pull for new titles. They advertise pre-orders as 33% off list or thereabouts. Since, as you pointed out, I’m not a big brand name yet, this actually hurts us because none of the independent bookstores want to match those discounts and the margin left over won’t cover shipping them back if they fail to sell. So, in the future we plan to use the EspressNet system, which is in large independents like Tattered Cover, Powells, and Politics and Prose to circumvent this tactic. E-books will be available in the other stores, but not print editions of those titles. Everyone wants e-books anyway and print just isn’t selling very well. Those that want it will have to seek it out. Sorry for any inconvenience, but we really can’t afford returns. We get charged fees on top of the discount both ways. This is why the list price is so high on print books. You get what you pay for.
“Everyone wants e-books anyway”
Well, lots and lots of folks do, but certainly not everyone.
An example from one author:
And a followup: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/01/23/the-ebook-path-to-riches-possibly-steeper-than-assumed/
eBooks are here to stay, they’re an important part of publishing these days.
Francis Hamit may be “virtually signing” print-on-demand copies of his book, but having just picked up the copy of _Memory_of_Light_ that the library was holding for my son, after we finally reached the top of the waitlist, I see what looks like Robert Jordan’s signature on the title page. Posthumous signing would seem to be one level beyond “virtual” signing.
Well, the “signed” MEMORY OF LIGHT isn’t being sold as such – it’s just there on the title page. My Edgar Pangborn reprints have his signature stamped in gold on the front boards.
I have been told of one used bookstore had MEMORY OF LIGHT in their collectible section since it was, ahem, signed by Jordan. They apparently were somewhat peeved being told that Jordan was long dead.