SE: Do a lot of them sell, or is it more a growing market?
J: Yes, yeah they do. Sort of. I think self-published authors tend to read other self-published authors a little bit more. They recognize the work that is involved and at least one to get more ideas for the next book, but it really depends on the next book. Text books always sell pretty well.
SE: That is because the professors always make their books mandatory reading.
J: Sometimes yes. We get a lot of memoir, a lot of family history, sites, a lot of non-fiction. Poetry seems to be taking off quite a bit, which is very exciting. That is always interesting to see how people lay out the pages, because poetry is not just what you are reading, but how you are reading it as well. We only print black and white interiors with color covers, so the art books are pretty slim. We do print black and white photography and drawings, things like that. Always black and white.
SE: How is this different from publishing it on Create A Space or other similar sites?
J: What people enjoy about the Book Machine is that they come into the bookstore and talk to a person. They can look at samples firsthand. Also, the Book Machine’s have a network around the world, so we can get books printed anywhere. If someone comes in and self-publishes a book with us- Express Net, which is sort of a blanket network. If they sell a book in Australia, someone can just walk in and get a book at their local store in Australia. So they do not have to worry about shipping or currency exchange.
SE: Woah. I did not realize that it has an international market, because I feel that the benefit of Amazon is that you can sell it online to any market.
J: The nice thing about the Book Machine is that you can order it online, but that we print it on-demand. One copy, maybe a few more on the shelf, but other than that we do not have an inventory. We do not have to have a hundred copies of the books stored somewhere, we are not worried about moving them. It is all about demand. If someone wants one, we print them a brand new one and we can ship it anywhere in the world.
SE: Do you think that in terms of selling a self-published book, is it all up to the author how the book sells?
J: From where we are at, we do not have a marketing team for the writers, so it is up to the authors to do all of their promotion. We promote their books on our website, but we do not push them on Instagram or plan readings.
SE: Do you think self-publishing is a good idea for starting writers?
J: I have had good feedback from writers who are just starting out. I think it helps them to see the pages in a physical format and feel the dimensions and the weight of your book. It is a big step to take and it is not a huge commitment to self-publish your book like this. The only contract you have to sign is that you are not plagiarizing anything, and if you are, I am not held accountable for it. There is no pressure. They can take it anywhere they want to. Once they get it in printed form they can go through it and take it to other publishing houses, I think it is just a good step. It takes the weight off of the first stepping-stone. There is a lot of work involved in writing a book and the biggest thing is putting it out there and making it actually an object. It takes a lot of the stress out of that next step.
SE: So for starting writers, it works for more as a middle step, or transition phase?
J: It is just nice to see your baby getting born. It is a pretty simple process, they give us the book, and they can use any program they want to design their book, as long as it comes in a certain format. We do offer interior design services, but you do not have to. If you want to type it all on Word, save it the way you want to save it, and send it to us – we will print it.
SE: So do you think this form of self-publishing is the new direction?
J: I feel that it is a new direction. The book is never going to go away, and once people were afraid, but now that is over. I think on-demand books follow suit with the benefits of the digital form. One of the biggest draws to the Book Machine, is that you can store all of the books on a tiny little box. And that is the good thing about these books, is that they are on-demand. You buy a copy when you need it. You do not need to buy storage space, you just need one. If you want to spend 100 copies of your book, you do not have to print 100 copies and try to sell them, you can print them one at a time and send them here to go buy it.
Jacob was really helpful. The concept of on-demand publishing is part of the digital and technological process of the book, and is truly revolutionizing book publishing. There is no need for thousand book prints and storing them in warehouses where eventually they are sent to Amazon for discount prices. You can print a beautiful baby book when and where you need it.
Samantha Emily Evans