“From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors” has an interview with Anny Rusk, publisher for IntoPrint Publishing. “Cynsations” has another such interview that covers a lot of the same ground. As its name might suggest, this small publishing house uses e-book and print-on-demand publishing to bring out-of-print books back into print. It was born of her business partners’ realization that digital technology meant there’s no need for a book to stay out of print.
Anny: John Campbell and Greg Luther realized that in the tech age there’s no such thing as an out-of-print book, just books that haven’t been read yet.
In addition, as readers, both Greg and John were frustrated by their inability to find certain out-of-print books. Upon further investigation, they realized that many out-of-print books still had readers who wanted to buy them, and that the authors of these books were losing out on untapped revenue. IntoPrint was created to help author and reader reconnect.
Whereas mainstream publishers often drop books that fall below a certain sales level, Rusk says, with e-books there’s no reason they have to stay that way. So IntoPrint contracts with authors to bring out-of-print, rights-reverted books back into print via e-books and print-on-demand.
Our authors receive a sliding-scale royalty based on net sales that starts at 50% and goes up depending upon units sold. There are no upfront charges for digital conversion or distribution, and we pay for marketing. Our contract has a five-year term, but if book sales fall below a lower limit, the author has the option to terminate the agreement before then.
They also do work with publicity and search-engine optimization and marketing to push the books. They aren’t set up to deal with new works—they don’t have the editorial department required to refine and revise them into a finished product—but their goal is to be able to get previously published works back on the market in 90 days or less.
It’s nice to see a publisher specifically focused on this kind of work, though it seems to me there’s nothing particularly special about it. If an author’s books go out of print and the rights revert, the author has all sorts of options for getting the book back into print. They could go with IntoPrint, or they could shop it to another publisher, or even self-publish it and keep even more of the profits themselves.
It’s also kind of amusing it’s being pitched as a benefit when I think about it, how much worry there was in past years that the e-book revolution might mean a book need never go “out of print” and so the rights might end up never reverting back to the author. While some publishers did try such rights grabs, by and large authors and agents simply readjusted the terms of contracts they signed to specify reversion when book and e-book sales fall below a certain level instead.
And regardless, it is nice that books don’t have to go out of print anymore for whatever reason. But the sad fact is that all too many of them still do, and some of those are the “orphan works” that have caused so much fuss when Google decided to scan them. Even IntoPrint can’t republish a work when its actual legal owner can’t be found.