Innovation That Matters

Out-of-print books, printed on demand

Publishing & Media

We’ve featured examples of printing on demand for consumers who’d like to publish their own books, through services like Blurb. Instead of letting them print their own work, renowned British publishing house Faber & Faber now lets readers order books that have gone out of print. Faber Finds is starting off with a selection of 100 titles that have fallen off the backlist, including works by prominent 20th century novelists P.H. Newby and Angus Wilson. The venture uses specially designed software to generate print-ready covers that will be unique for every title, without requiring the (expensive) intervention of graphic designers. For more on the development of their clever design system, read the developer’s notes. Sold at prices comparable to regular trade paperbacks—slightly higher in some cases—Faber Finds titles have a production and delivery time of up to two weeks, and consumers can place orders online or through their local bookstore. Faber Finds will be adding more titles soon, planning to offer as many as 1,000 in four genres: fiction, non-fiction, art and poetry. (In the Telegraph, the list’s editor points out: “There will be no room for celebrity memoirs, ‘chick lit’ or pornography, but, otherwise the watchword is inclusion.”) It’s an inspiring example of ‘old media’ using digital technology and online retail to profit from niche markets. As is, of course, detailed in Chris Anderson’s theory of the Long Tail: “In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.” More publishers to follow Faber & Faber’s lead? Spotted by: Matthew De Ville


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