Thursday, June 11, 2009
Another way to take money from bad writers might actually be a good deal for good writers.
At the recent BookExpo in New York, Publishers Weekly distributed a special report on Print On Demand.
In it was an ad with this headline: "SHOULD YOU REALLY PUBLISH EVERYONE?"
The rest of the ad says:
"Every author who submits a book to you for publication or author representation can be a source of revenue.
So, why turn anyone away?
There is no need to risk your capital or your agency's reputation.
With Unibook, you can help all authors publish their books. Risk-FREE!"
Unibook, formed just last year as WWAOW (pronounced "wow" and standing for Worldwide Association of Writers) is part of Peleman Industries, a 70-year-old book binder and printing products maker. The company is based in Belgium and has a US operation in Georgia.
WWAOW was touted as "a revolutionary online service that opens the market to everyone to publish their own high-quality books on demand for only $79 for five books."
WWAOW functioned like a typical POD vanity press, paying a "royalty percentage of up to 20 percent of the book’s retail value."
This year WWAOW was renamed Unibook, offering “on demand book printing, binding and fulfillment service for the broad business and consumer market. Through a network of printing partners in Europe, the US, and Japan, books and publications become available online around the world."
Along with the new name, the operation has a new source of customers. The ad and the website encourage literary agents and publishers to steer authors of normally unpublishable crap to Unibook. Unibook will presumably publish anything that doesn't advocate child rape or the violent overthrow of the government, and they'll send back some of the revenue to agents and publishers who refer business to them.
Although the literary quality may be dubious, I have no reason to doubt the physical quality of the printing and binding. The $79 charge for five books is attractive, especially since there is no setup fee, and (at least for a while) no charge for a proof. This service may be a good deal for a writer who needs a quick small batch of books, perhaps as "advance reader copies" for book reviewers, or to circulate to editors, proofreaders and friends to comment on.
The UniBook system doesn't make sense if you hope to achieve mass sales online or through stores. There is no distribution other than from the UniBook website, or whatever channel an author can establish.
Royalties are paid through PayPal, not by check or bank deposit.
I'm going to try them out and I'll let you know how the books turn out.